Conservative and Liberal Democrat councillors are staging a protest outside Leicester City Council on Friday, ahead of a special meeting to vote on the election of a city mayor.
The opposition councillors are calling for the council to hold a referendum on whether to have an elected mayor.
Labour says a referendum would cost £250,000 and take too long to organise before local elections next May.
A consultation would be held if the council votes in favour of the post.
Several Labour politicians, including Leicester South MP Sir Peter Soulsby and former city council leader Ross Willmott, have indicated they are willing to run for the post of mayor.
The protests by councillors calling for a referendum will take place outside Leicester Town Hall before tonight's meeting.
Conservative councillor Ross Grant said: "It's one of the things about democracy that there are times when you vote and that's a costly process, but it's so much better than any other system we've got. I prefer it to a system where Labour councillors are going to push this through."
Labour councillor Abdul Osman said the new role would be more democratic.
"Rather than have a leader elected by councillors, this would be a mayor elected by the people," he said.
The government is proposing a series of referenda on elected mayors in 12 of England's biggest cities outside London.
Under the proposals, referenda would be held in Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, Coventry, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Nottingham, Sheffield and Wakefield.
The details of the proposed powers of city mayors and the referendum timetable will be published in the government's Localism Bill later in November.