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Alcalde (German: Alkalde ) is the Spanish official title of the mayor of a city. Parish leaders in other localities are called Alcalde pedáneo in Spain .

In German usage , the title is used in German and Spanish spelling, especially in operas and films as a non-translation from Spanish, for example in Die Macht des Schicksals by Giuseppe Verdi and in Der Corregidor by Hugo Wolf . In former Spanish colonies in Latin America , the local chief judge is still called the Alcalde Mayor today; so z. B. in Colombia , Venezuela or Panama .

Just as “Richter” occurs as a surname in German, “Alcalde” occurs as a family name in Spanish-speaking countries .

Historical term

The historical roots of the term go back to the Middle Ages. The name Alcalde comes from the Arabicالقاضي / al-qāḍī  / 'the judge'. In the 11th century, the kings of northern Spain created the establishment of the Alkalden, as a judge for the administration of justice in the cities. These alkali were appointed directly by the king. One of the first rights of the free cities was to choose their own alkali from among the citizens. The first city councils ( consejos municipales , cabildos or ayuntamientos ) were formed in Spain in the 15th and 16th centuries . The decision-making power passed from the citizens' assembly to the representation of the citizens. These representations consisted on the one hand of the Regidores or Concejales , the citizens' representatives, but also of the city officials, e.g. B. the Alguacil , the chief of police or law enforcement officers , the Escribanos , the town clerks and also the Alcalde , the elected judge. The alkali presided over these meetings. So the official title changed from the actual activity of the judge to the activity as chairman of the city council and thus also of the city administration. In Spain today the alcalde has no judicial functions whatsoever.

Alcalde in what is now Spain

The Constitution of the Kingdom of Spain from 1978 guarantees the local self-government in the article 140th The same article stipulates that the members of the municipality council are elected by the citizens of the municipality in a general, equal, free, direct and secret ballot and that the mayor is elected by the members of the municipality council or directly by the citizens. Local elections in Spain take place every four years.

Details on the election of the mayor are regulated in Art. 196 of the Ley Orgánica del Régimen Electoral General (LOREG). The mayor is then elected in the constituent meeting of the municipal council. There is only one ballot. Only municipal council members who were on the first place on the list of their party or electoral group in the election to the municipal council (ie the "top candidates") can run for election. If an applicant achieves an absolute majority of the legal number of members of the municipal council, he is elected mayor. If there is no absolute majority, the top candidate on the list with the most votes in the election for the municipal council will be appointed mayor.

Example : Municipal council consisting of 13 members. In the election to the local council, the A party received the most votes. Distribution of seats: A-Party 5, B-Party 4, C-Party 2, D-Party 2.
Variant 1 : B, C and D parties support the top candidate of the B party in the election of the mayor, who thus has eight votes, which means that he is elected.
Variant 2 : The top candidate of the B party is only supported by the C party in the election of mayor. He thus receives six votes. The council members of the A and D parties each elect their own top candidate, so that they receive five (A) and two (D) votes. The top candidate of the B party received the most votes. However, since he did not achieve an absolute majority, the top candidate of the A-party becomes mayor, as this was the strongest force in the election to the local council.

Only in municipalities in which there is no municipal council, but whose function is performed by the residents' assembly ( Concejo abierto ), the mayor is elected directly by the population on the day of the general municipal elections.

In Law 7/1985, of April 2nd, which regulates the basis of local government in Spain, Article 21 defines the tasks of the Alcalden. These are among others:

  • He heads the city administration
  • He represents the city administration
  • He chairs the meetings of the city council
  • He directs, monitors and initiates the city's services and works.
  • He arranges the public information
  • He is responsible for the city budget
  • He is the disciplinary superior of the city officials
  • He is the head of the local police force
  • He leads the necessary relief measures in the event of a disaster
  • He appoints his deputies


  • La Constitución Española de 1978
  • Ley 7/1985, de 2 de April, Reguladora de las Bases del Régimen Local.

Web links

Wiktionary: alcalde  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Alcalde Mayor in the former Spanish New Mexico ( Memento of November 2, 2006 in the Internet Archive ) (English; PDF; 165 kB)