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A municipality president (depending on the canton also known as municipality ( e) ammann , Stadtammann , (district) captain or city ​​president ) is the head of a Swiss political municipality elected by the voters of a municipality .

Cantonal terminology

In the canton of Friborg the official title is Ammann, in the canton of Aargau it is municipal mayor or mayor . Mayor was previously also in the cantons of Solothurn (until 1992), St. Gallen (until 2002) and Thurgau (until 2014), in older times also in other cantons, for example in Zurich until 1875. In Engelberg , the mayor is Talammann . In the canton of Grisons different names are used. In the Davos region, for example, which also forms a district of Graubünden, the mayor has the title of landammann, which is otherwise due to the district presidents .

In the French-speaking areas of the canton of Friborg and in the canton of Vaud it is called syndic, in the French-speaking areas of the canton of Bern , in the canton of Jura and in the canton of Geneva, Maire, and in the canton of Ticino, finally, Sindaco .

In the canton of Appenzell Innerrhoden , the president bears the title of district captain or captain for short , as the districts correspond to the political communities there . In the canton of Appenzell Outer Rhodes , the official title was captain of the late 20th century by mayor (in) replaced.

Mayor in another meaning

In the cantons of Zurich and Lucerne , the mayor or the mayor is not the same as the mayor or mayor. Rather, he is an organ of the administration of justice in Zurich for special tasks, in particular for civil law enforcement, and therefore acts, among other things, as a debt enforcement officer. In Lucerne, the municipal mayor is a member of the municipal executive, who is particularly responsible for finance.


The office of mayor came into being with the consolidation of communal autonomy in the High Middle Ages. The highest official was the Ammann , in the cities the Schultheiss , in some cases also a Vogt or Meier . Depending on the political system (city regime or rural canton), this function holder was appointed by the patriciate in the city cantons or elected by the country people. After the French invasion , the community system in the Helvetic Republic was completely restructured along the lines of the French model, and the concept of president was reintroduced. This reorganization was partially reversed after the end of the Helvetic Republic from 1803, but continued by the newly founded cantons of Aargau, Thurgau, St. Gallen, Waadt and Ticino in 1803. After the end of the restoration phase and the liberal state upheavals of the 1830s, the principle of democratic election of the municipality head increasingly prevailed, with the traditional name of municipal administrator being transferred to the modern municipality president in some cantons .

The system of executive Council (collegial body that in many communities council is called) with a mayor at the top has in analogy to the cantonal government prevailed almost throughout Switzerland and is regulated by the cantonal community laws. The exception is the canton of Geneva, where in small communities with less than 3,000 inhabitants the Maire is the sole executive body and accordingly there is no municipal council.

Functions and tasks

The mayor is responsible for running his collegial authority, i.e. he is the head of the executive . He is also responsible for the implementation of the higher-level legislation of the Confederation and the cantons, where this falls to the municipalities, as well as all regulations issued by the municipality. Furthermore, in smaller communities, the mayor usually acts as chairman of the community assembly , the highest legislative body of a political community.

The election of the mayor takes place either by ballot box or election in the communal assembly or indirectly by the communal parliament. The term of office varies between two and five years. No rule without exception: in the canton of Friborg, the municipal council elected by the people is self-constituting, i.e. also elects the municipality president.

The mayor often has a strong position of power as he presides over the local council as well as the leadership of the community assembly and administration. The complexity and increasing variety of tasks in modern communities require a great deal of specialist knowledge, time commitment and personal commitment, which can often no longer be achieved by a militia president. There is therefore a tendency towards full office; Community president is increasingly becoming a profession.



  1. Law of September 25, 1980 on Municipalities , Art. 58.
  2. Law on Residential Communities of December 19, 1978 , Section 16.
  3. The term "Gemeindammann" [sic] was introduced with the municipal law of 1855, confirmed by the one of 1866 and finally replaced by the term "municipality president" with the municipal law of 1875. However, the two laws enacted in 1831 "on municipal administration" and "on municipal assemblies" already knew the term "municipality president" [sic]. For the respective laws, see the official collection of laws, resolutions and ordinances of the Swiss Federal State Zurich, published since 1803 , also online via the homepage of the Zurich State Archives.