local community

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Local authorities (territorial and sovereign bodies under public law ), which usually represent the smallest spatial-administrative, i.e. political-geographical administrative unit in the public-administrative structure of states , are referred to as municipality or political municipality (also municipality ) . This corresponds to the LAU-2 level of the European Union .

Types of communes and forms of settlement

As a community level or local level is referred to the policy level , which is assigned to the area of a local authority. In Germany, the districts also belong to the municipal level . In some states the term is classified in the LAU-2 , in other states as LAU-1 . The terms local level and community level are therefore often not synonymous . It should be noted that in Germany every city ​​is a municipality, but not every municipality is a city. Today cities often have only one single privilege compared to other municipalities, and that is to be able to call themselves “city”. In some German states only certain cities ( independent cities and cities with a special status ) can receive advantages over other municipalities. Among the municipalities in some states including markets and spots , local authorities with an own official status. Settlement forms without official status are villages , peasant communities or hamlets (and those districts that are not considered to be urban districts in the legal sense), such as B. Kiez.

Politics and administration in municipalities

In local elections in the Federal Republic of Germany, in the course of local self-government, not only city and municipal councils are appointed to represent the local population , but also the members of district assemblies and (in larger cities and city ​​states ) representatives of the city districts and often also ( mayors ) and District councilors elected.

The municipal administration is the entirety of all organs, offices and authorities of the municipality. In the German-speaking area, the building of the administrative headquarters is called town hall , town hall, parish hall or municipal office in different regions .

Average number of inhabitants per municipality in some countries

Country Municipalities
Residents Population / municipality
Germany 11,114 80,716,000 7,263 2014
France 36,681 64.204.247 1,750 2013
Greece 325 10,815,197 33,278 2011
Netherlands 443 16,730,632 37,767 2014
Austria 2,354 8,507,786 3,614 2013
Sweden 290 9,573,466 33,012 2013
Switzerland 2,408 8,609,000 3,575 2013


In the late 11th century, a movement began in the western part of the Holy Roman Empire , which is referred to in the sources with the terms coniuratio or communio . In Le Mans in 1070 a "conspiracy they called the Commune" spread. Later, in 1077 , the citizens of Cambrai invoked a "commune" that had been planned for a long time. They took advantage of the absence of the episcopal city lord. They swore among themselves by oath to deny the bishop entry to the city if he did not recognize the new confederation. It is true that this first commune was put down and dissolved again; nevertheless, the struggle of the citizens of Cambrai for military sovereignty , jurisdiction and urban self-government continued into the 20s of the 13th century.

But there were also communal movements in other cities in the German-speaking area. So in 1074 in Cologne against the Archbishop of Cologne and in 1073 in Worms . In both cases it was a matter of achieving greater freedoms from the feudal city lord, especially from the clergy. The city lord exercised the judicial and administrative powers in the city with his servants and officials, he had power over the fortifications of the city, exercised market and customs rights and received income from them. Very often the land of the city also belonged to the lord of the city, so that taxes had to be paid for its use for buildings and economic activities. Furthermore, many citizens were in a personal relationship of dependence on the city lord.

According to sources, the wealthy merchants in particular criticized the city lords' lust for power. The complex reasons led to the fact that not only the merchants and craftsmen revolted, but also subservient peasants, ministerials and dependent servants who had fled to the city joined the struggle for the commune.

In Switzerland , a pronounced has due to missing or weak central powers communalism developed. To this day, the Swiss community is regarded as the starting point for political self-government and self-determination. Swiss municipalities enjoy a high degree of autonomy, including tax autonomy. The historian Peter Jósika describes the system of local self-determination practiced in Switzerland as a model for overcoming nationalistic and centralized political structures and for building a future united “Europe of the Regions” .

Legal situation by state


Triangle with the federal government at the top, including in layers the federal states, optional administrative districts, (rural) districts, optional municipal associations and municipalities.  The strict stratification is broken up by city-states and district-free cities, which perform tasks of several strata.Bund Bundesländer/Flächenländer Bundesländer/Stadtstaaten (Regierungsbezirke) (Land-)Kreise Gemeindeverbände (Gemeindeverbandsangehörige/Kreisangehörige Gemeinden) (Gemeindeverbandsfreie) Kreisangehörige Gemeinden Kreisfreie Städte
Vertical state structure of Germany

In Germany, the simple expression “municipality” is usually used for places or cities as a political municipality or local municipality, but this also includes other regionally specific municipality forms. The municipal ordinances are decided by the federal states . Intermunicipal cooperations that require their own legal personality take place within the framework of a community association .

In Germany, the municipality is classified in the LAU-2 level (the former NUTS5), while the administrative communities are classified in LAU-1 .


In Austria, the simple term municipality is mostly used , but it also includes other regionally specific municipality forms. All municipalities in Austria are classified under LAU-2. The LAU-1 level is not used.


The term political municipality ( German  municipality , French commune , bourgeoisie , Italian comune , Rhaeto-Romanic vischnauncas ) is used much more frequently, more bindingly and officially in Switzerland due to the more intensive presence of the names of other types of municipality. It can also be understood there to mean the entirety of all residents of a political municipality who are entitled to vote ; the term 'community' then denotes the electoral community or the electorate .

Community terms in Switzerland:


Since 1808, Liechtenstein has been divided into eleven political communities , or communities for short . They form the lower level in the two-level state administration structure.


The lower level of the Belgian administrative system is represented by the 589 municipalities in Belgium . As in Germany, these are LAU-2 units, formerly NUTS-5. Below this level, the municipalities that were independent until the municipal merger in 1977 are now referred to as sub-municipalities .

Other countries

See also


Web links

Wiktionary: Municipality  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wiktionary: Commune  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Jean-Charles-Léonard Simonde de Sismondi: Histoire des Français. Treuttel et Würtz, 1823, p. 406. ( limited preview in Google book search)
  2. Peter Josika: A Europe of Regions - What Switzerland can do, Europe can too . IL-Verlag, Basel 2014, ISBN 978-3-906240-10-7 . ( Abstract ( Memento from March 11, 2016 in the Internet Archive ))