The ‘right to the city’ has become a popular claim in the last years, raising questions about its meaning and implications. Thus, besides the problematic around the definition of what this right really means, I consider relevant to ask if it is possible to implement it today. Therefore, this paper aims to analyse challenges and limitations for the implementation of right to the city within the institutions of the current political systems.
This paper utilises Lefebvre’s conceptualisation as base to analyse the government action of two municipal platforms which won mayoralties in the Spanish elections of May 2015 and which claim to defend the right to the city: Barcelona en Comú and Marea Atlántica.
Due to the limitations of this paper, the focus is set only on two pivotal aspects for exercising the right to the city: participation and appropriation. By researching how the government action of these platforms tries to implement participation and appropriation, this paper finds some limitations and challenges for institutionalising the right to the city. Thus, the analysis finds that, despite the increasing in the involvement of the citizens, the participation is far from the self-management model proposed by Lefebvre. On the other hand, appropriation finds even more problems not only of the private spacewhich is almost inexistentbut for the reappropriation of public space, which has to be done mainly through the purchase of these spaceswith the consequent transfer of public capital to private actors. In conclusion, these limitations show important constrains imposed specially by governmental scales and the legal framework for a full implementation of the right to the city. Furthermore, these tensions are a consequence of the main challenge found by these platforms in the institutional implementation of the right: the confrontation between two legitimacy logics, which dispute the hegemony over the political action.