The Relationship between Municipality Size and Notions of Democracy among Czech Mayors

Dr. Daniel Cermak

We can find 6,258 municipalities with the average population of 1,682 inhabitants and the median of 426 inhabitants in the Czech Republic at the present. The context of different municipal sizes is an important topic in the Czech Republic because of the high degree of fragmentation of the municipal system. The location of a municipality on urban-suburban-rural gradient is also important. For instance, a location of a small village in a suburban area affects the attitudes, opportunities, and network placement of its mayor in a different way compared to a location in a rural area. This paper presents who the mayors are and their understanding of democracy, especially which concept of democracy they prefer – liberal democracy or participatory democracy.
We use representative data from a survey conducted among Czech mayors in the years 2015 and 2016 (N=506). Mayors representing municipalities of different sizes, from small villages with less than 200 inhabitants to cities with more than 50.000 inhabitants, are included in our sample.
Our main aim is to show the impact of the context of municipal size as well as the position of municipality on urban-suburban-rural gradient on mayors’ understanding of democracy.
With respect to the above mentioned contextual effects, three key hypotheses are tested:
1) Socio-demographic characteristics (age, sex, education) of mayors vary in relation with size and location.
2) Mayors’ notions of democracy vary in relation with size, location, and socio-demographic characteristics.
3) Mayors’ perception of various democratic procedures, e. g. referendum or participatory budgeting, varies in relation with size and location as well.