Local trajectories of Czechoslovak state-building in small towns of Eastern Slovakia, 1918–1923
In the Eastern part of daily Slovakia the establishment and the consolidation of the new Czechoslovak Republic was hardly an easy project, particularly in the case of urban societies. Local political elites stood for the integrity of the Kingdom of Hungary and the Slovak intelligentsia had no political or cultural institutions at the time of the transition in the geographical area composed of Abov-Turňa/Abaúj-Torna, Šariš/Sáros and Spiš/Szepes which are the narrower field of investigation. However, in most places the new pro-Czechoslovak elite emerged from the administrative structures of the old regime and played a decisive role in the political transition, especially in the first years after the creation of Czechoslovakia.
This paper aims to examine how local political elites participated in the process of post-imperial transition and the ways in which they faced the creation of the new state. By comparing archival sources, election and census results, I intend to investigate changes and contingencies in the composition of the political elite of multiethnic towns of the region, as well as the different strategies of the municipal and regional elites after 1918. The first part of the study provides a brief overview on the ethnic transformation of the urban populations after the creation of Czechoslovakia. Furthermore, it compares the pre-war and post-war municipal leaderships with special attention to the changes in 1919, when the political elite was nominated by the Czechoslovak authorities. Finally, the second half of the study analysis the results of the first Czechoslovak local elections of 1923. Following recent researches on imperial legacy of the successors states of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, I would like to argue that continuity between pre-war and post-war elites played a specific, albeit temporary role in the state transition also at a local level.