Prague district explores concrete steps to independence
Prague’s district of Jižní Město is mostly known for its endless blocks of prefabricated flats. Recently, however, the district, nicknamed Jižák, has made national headlines after the local mayor suggested separating it from the rest of the capital – arguing that the move would give it greater control and allow improvements to take place.
For over a year now, the local town hall has been governed by a coalition named Hnutí pro Prahu 11. Its head, mayor Jiří Štyler, has sparked a heated public debate with the suggestion the district break off from the rest of Prague.
After the media picked up on the story, Mr Štyler denied using the word “separation”. However, admitted he was working on a plan that would enable Jižní Město to become an independent municipality with massively increased local powers:
Apart from receiving more funds, Mr Štyler says he would also like to have a stronger say on local urban planning issues and be able to make regulations that would react to the immediate needs of their citizens, such as rules on dogs, regulation of gambling, and changes to the parking system.
The Prague 11 mayor dismisses the arguments of the local opposition, who have denounced his proposals as populist. They also argue that if Jižní město became a municipality, it would have to pay for all the services that are now for free, such as public transport and energy. For his part, Mr Štyler says he is not alone in wishing to exert more independence from City Hall, arguing that at least five or six similar studies have been carried out in different Prague districts. He has also taken inspiration abroad:
However, experts say there are legal obstacles to the plan being carried out. They argue that for a district to separate from the rest of Prague it would have to be located on the very edge of the city, which is not the case of Jižní Město.