Municipal Council (Germany)

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City council meeting in Mannheim

The council is the main organ of a municipality whose municipal constitution, the council constitution is based.


The municipal council represents the municipality's citizens (municipal representative body) and is elected for four, five or six years , depending on the local constitution of the state .

The designation is different in the various German states and also within them depending on the size and status of the municipality. In particular, the following terms can be found - very different depending on the form of municipal constitutional law :

  • House of Representatives (Berlin, also state parliament there)
  • Citizenship (Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg, there at the same time state parliament, as well as Hanseatic cities in Schleswig-Holstein and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, but not in the state of Bremen, which is made up of two municipalities, in which citizenship only refers to the state parliament )
  • Local council (including in Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg)
  • Municipal representation (in Schleswig-Holstein, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania - exception: the municipal constitutions of the states of Brandenburg and Hesse are not based on the council constitution, but rather on the municipal constitution )
  • Market town council (in market towns )
  • Local council (in local parishes in Rhineland-Palatinate )
  • City Council / City Council (in North Rhine-Westphalia and Lower Saxony)
  • Council meeting
  • City citizenship (in the municipality of Bremen)
  • City Council (in some countries in cities; in countries with a magistrate constitution , city ​​council is the name for an alderman who is a member of the magistrate )
  • City council assembly (City of Bremerhaven and in Hesse, partly in North Rhine-Westphalia and Brandenburg)
  • City representation (in cities in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and Schleswig-Holstein)
  • Verbandsgemeinderat (in association communities in Rhineland-Palatinate or Saxony-Anhalt )

The members of these committees are also often called the local council or city council (e.g. city councilor Alois Müller). In Bavaria, the legal, albeit completely unusual, designation is “community council member” or “city council member” in contrast to the members of the district assembly and the district assembly (both also municipal bodies) who call themselves “district councils” and “district councils”. The members of the city council are called accordinglyCity councilors.

Chairman of the Local Board is depending on the country, either the popularly elected civil or mayor or a self-chosen from the Board Chairman, who may also have a special title, eg. B. Mayor , City Council Chairman , Council President , President of the citizenry , civil ruler or civil Worthalter .

In parishes and student communities there is a municipal council, which usually parish council, parish council or presbytery is (cf.. Parish line ).

Assignment to the executive

Despite the superficial similarities to a parliament , the municipal council is not part of the legislature , but of the executive branch . The representations in the city-states of Berlin and Hamburg are an exception to this . In the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen , the citizenship of the Bremen state (legislature) is different from the municipal citizenship of the city of Bremen (executive).

This is due to the fact that in Germany laws can only be enacted by the state (i.e. the federal government or the federal states). As a regional body , municipalities belong to the state in the broader sense, but not to the state in the narrower sense. " Law " is also set in the municipal council , but only in the form of statutes , that is, legal norms that are below laws in the norm hierarchy . Since the municipal council, despite its parliamentary character and corresponding public perception, cannot pass any laws in the actual sense, it is considered an executive body and not a legislative one from a constitutional point of view. Just like the judiciary , there can only be legislative organs at the state, i.e. at the state and federal level.

Status and tasks

The council meeting of the Flensburg town hall takes place once a year in the naval school Mürwik . (Photo 2015)

The municipal council is an organ of the municipality and the political representation of the municipality's citizens. The municipal council is not an authority in the institutional sense, since the municipality as a whole is the authority. It decides on the administration of the municipality, as far as matters of the local community (own sphere of activity) or matters which the law assigns to the municipalities to be carried out on behalf of the state (transferred sphere of activity / commissioned matters) are affected (general responsibility of the municipality) and not the mayor ( called Lord Mayor in independent cities and large district towns ) is responsible (authority of the municipal council). The municipality council decides within the task area of ​​the municipality on matters that do not arise continuously and are of fundamental importance or contain significant obligations for the municipality.

The municipal council is not responsible for matters that are entrusted to the mayor, municipal senate or municipal council committee to deal with them independently. The municipal council monitors the mayor and the municipal administration, in particular the implementation of its resolutions. The mayor is responsible for supervising the employees of the municipality; The municipal council determines the nature and extent of this responsibility in the rules of procedure. The mayor carries out the resolutions of the municipal council. The resolutions gain external impact when they are implemented by the (Lord) Mayor. The resolutions are not administrative acts , but represent an internal decision-making process. An exception to this are resolutions that do not require an implementation act, for example a street renaming.


The local council / city council consists of the chairman, who is the mayor (or lord mayor) in many federal states, and the elected councilors. The size of the municipal council / city council is determined by the respective municipal ordinances and is essentially based on the population of the municipality. It varies between 6 and over 90 members. A distinction is made between voluntary community council members and, in Bavaria, also professional community council members. The voluntary council members receive an allowance.

The municipal council is determined in elections in accordance with the regulations of the respective municipal electoral law by the citizens in which political parties and electoral communities participate; within the European Union here also have EU citizens the active and passive voting rights .

Special in Bavaria

In larger municipalities, the municipal council can elect additional professional council members. You are a local electoral officer . You have no voting rights in the municipal council, but only exercise an advisory function. The professional municipal councilors often use designations such as “Referent” or “Rat” (e.g. district administration officer, environmental officer, town planning officer, town school board, etc.). The salary of professional municipal councilors is determined by law or ordinance of the federal states.

In Bavaria, the number of voluntary municipal council members and the assignments of the offices of professional municipal council members (temporary municipal electoral officers) to the respective salary groups (salary groups according to the Federal Salary Act) are as follows:

honorary council members professional councilors
district communities Independent cities and large district cities
Residents Members Residents Salary Residents Salary
up to 1,000 8th - - up to 30,000 A14 / A15
1,001 to 2,000 12
2,001 to 3,000 14th
3,001 to 5,000 16
5,001 to 10,000 20th
10,001 to 15,000 24 10,001 to 15,000 A13 / A14
15,001 to 20,000 15,001 to 30,000 A14 / A15
20,001 to 30,000 30th
30,001 to 50,000 40 more than 30,000 A 14 / A 15 30,001 to 50,000 A 16 / B 2
50,001 to 100,000 44 50,001 to 100,000 B 2 / B 3
100,001 to 200,000 50 100,001 to 200,000 B 3 / B 4
augsburg 60 augsburg B 4 / B 5
Nuremberg 70 Nuremberg B 5 / B 6
Munich 80 Munich B 6 / B 7

Course of business

The municipal council decides in meetings (compulsory meeting). Decisions in the circulation procedure or by obtaining votes in person or by telephone are not permitted. The reason for the compulsory meeting is to be seen in the need for joint consultation, which is an important prerequisite for an error-free formation of the will.

Proper summons of all council members

All members of the parish council must be properly invited. The chairman convenes the municipal council with an appropriate period of notice, stating the agenda. The municipal council's rules of procedure contain provisions on the form and deadline for summons. A convocation also takes place at the request of a part of the members of the municipal council detailed in the municipal code of the federal states, stating the subject of the discussion. If a council member is not summoned, the resolution is ineffective, unless the council member has appeared despite the missing summons and does not complain about the missing summons (implied waiver of summons). A missing summons is not negligible for the simple reason that his vote did not affect the decision of the municipal council. Under certain circumstances, he could have changed the mindset with convincing arguments during the consultation.

Majority present and entitled to vote

For its quorum , the majority of its members (excluding the professional council members) must also be present and be entitled to vote. For the majority, the actual strength of the municipal council is to be used. Members who resigned due to their departure, resignation or death, or members who were excluded from the meeting due to measures taken by the police at the meeting, are therefore not included in the calculation of the majority concept. On the other hand, council members who cannot take part in the deliberation and voting due to personal involvement in the deliberation and decision-making matter will be considered. Under certain circumstances, the presence of the majority of the community council members can be dispensed with (e.g. second discussion on the same subject). The municipal council members are obliged to take part in the meetings that are assigned to them by the first mayor (Lord Mayor) according to the rules of procedure and to cast their votes. If, contrary to the regulation, a member of the municipal council abstains from voting or fails to attend meetings in violation of the regulations, the decision of the municipal council remains effective; it applies to the possibility of imposing a fine.

Decision and its form

The resolutions are generally passed in public session ( except: the general public or the legitimate interests of individuals oppose this) with a majority of votes. Minutes must be drawn up about the negotiations of the municipal council.

Preliminary advisory and decision-making committees or municipal senates

The municipal council can set up preliminary advisory committees to facilitate its tasks. For the purpose of a division of labor, he also has the option of transferring his competencies in individual matters or branches of business to community senates ( or: decision-making committees). The municipal senates act within their jurisdiction instead of the municipal council. The first mayor (Lord Mayor), his deputy or a certain number of members of the municipal council can usually request a review by the municipal council. Certain items are excluded from transfer to a municipal senate. Depending on the municipal code, this usually includes: statutes (without land use planning ) and ordinances ; Budget statute and budget; matters to be approved by the legal supervisory authority, etc. The composition of the senates is designed in the rules of procedure according to the strength of the parties and groups of voters in the municipal council. A municipal senate that is important in practice is the building senate, which only advises and decides on land use planning ( land use plan and development plan ) in large cities .

Committees and parliamentary groups are “auxiliary bodies” of the city council.

The municipal council can appoint so-called knowledgeable citizens or knowledgeable residents without voting rights to a committee, whereby their number may not exceed that of the ordinary council members. In practice, this happens at the suggestion of the political groups or the administration. This regulation must first be introduced by the municipal code. Such persons can also exercise voting rights in Berlin. They are called citizens' deputies there . The “knowledgeable residents” in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and the “civil committee members” in Schleswig-Holstein also have voting rights in these committees.


If a resolution to be taken holds a council member or a member of a defined group of people related to him "an immediate advantage or disadvantage", a conflict of interest is presumed to be avoided in the interest of the common good : The council member is described as biased and has the meeting closed leave, the necessary individual decision is made by the appropriate committee.

See also


  • Harald Hofmann , Rolf-Dieter Theisen: Local law in NRW. 13th completely revised edition. Bernhardt-Witten, Witten 2008, ISBN 978-3-933870-80-3 .
  • Yvonne Ott : The parliamentary character of municipal representation: a comparative legal study of the quality of state and municipal representative bodies. Nomos-Verl.-Ges., Baden-Baden 1994.

Individual evidence

  1. Handbook of communal science and practice 1: Fundamentals and communal constitution.
  2. Municipal Code for Baden-Württemberg (Municipal Code - GemO) in the version of July 24, 2000; § 18 Exclusion due to bias : "(5) Anyone who is not allowed to participate in the consultation and decision must leave the meeting." (Last accessed: December 4, 2015)
  3. Gemeindetag Baden-Wuerttemberg , BWGZ - The community newspaper , 11-12 | 2014, special edition for city, community and local councils , Bias catalog (last accessed: December 4, 2015)
  4. Municipal Code for Baden-Württemberg (Municipal Code - GemO) in the version of July 24, 2000; § 18 Exclusion due to bias (last accessed: December 4, 2015)
  5. Gemeindetag Baden-Wuerttemberg , BWGZ - The community newspaper , 11-12 | 2014, special issue for city, community and local councils , Irmtraud Bock, Bias - Exclusion from consultation and decision-making in the local council and local council (last accessed: December 4, 2015)