Who Plans What for Whom Under the “Iron Law” of Megaprojects? The Discourse Analysis of the Belgrade Waterfront Project
Urban megaprojects exhibit various distortions: special regulations, budget overrun, additional funding sources, long-term timeframes, and ad-hoc actor networks. Coping with such challenges seems to be demanding even for the welfare states and advanced democracies built upon the governmental control of megaproject development. Therefore, it is interesting to observe the nature of urban governance of megaproject development in a transitional society facing immature institutional and regulatory frameworks. Against such background, this article examines the main forces behind the flagship project of contemporary Serbia—the Belgrade Waterfront megaproject. By collecting 38 articles from the daily press, the paper identifies relevant stakeholders and present their statements to depict their positions, interests, and specific value frameworks. Using the discourse analysis to interpret the statements, the paper offers the following results: first, recognition of conflicts and coalitions; second, elucidation of the decision-making flows, and third, identification of power structures in the mentioned project. In addition, valuable insights into the problematic contextual features, e.g., tycoon-initiated urban development, the politics-led planning process, and weak civil engagement mechanisms, are elucidated. Concluding lessons on how to curb the extra-nature of urban megaprojects appear relevant for similar socio-spatial settings.