Henry Bäck, Annick Magnier and Hubert Heinelt There are various images of the political leader in Europe’s cities and towns. There is the time-honoured ceremonial mayor watching over the keys of the city. But there also is the political boss ruthlessly governing his/her ‘subjects’. We might also offer the streamlined university educated professional or the - ecutive committee leader promoted to a primus inter pares after long service in a political party. With this book we aim to describe and analyse the selection, daily life, networks and values of local top political leaders in seventeen European co- tries. The empirical basis for the investigation into town halls across Europe is a survey conducted mainly in 2003 and 2004 with mayors and corresponding top local political leaders. The data covering responses from more than 2,700 lead- 1 ers constitute a unique and rich material allowing descriptions and analyses pursuing a number of lines of inquiry.