Political level

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In most countries, political levels are vertical structures, between which political competencies are divided.


The way in which competencies are divided up differs between central states and federal states . In general, there are three levels.

Upper level

For example the federal level , often simply called the federal government . In less federal states, it is the actual level of government.

Middle level

The regional level , which is represented in Germany and Austria by the states: Land in the Federal Republic of Germany, Federal State in the Republic of Austria. In Switzerland it is the cantons , in France in particular the départements and in the USA the federal states . Accordingly, it is also often referred to as the state or state level , or special canton level . In Germany, however, the so-called district level can be found as a subdivision and component of some territorial states .

Lower level

The municipal level , they generally comprises the municipalities as well as the parent structures below the state level, for example, include in Germany the districts or to Bayern although coextensive with the administrative districts, but of them to be discriminated districts . Colloquially, the districts speak of a special district level . In other countries too, in addition to the lower municipalities, there are also summarizing layers at this lower level.

Higher levels

In recent times, a fourth, even higher level of confederation or confederation is gaining in importance. In Europe , this includes in particular the European Union (EU) and the Council of Europe , but also the European Free Trade Association (EFTA). In relation to the EU in particular, one speaks of a European level . Internationally, the term local administrative unit - Germanized LAU level (local administrative unit) - is widespread, which makes the national customs of the political levels comparable.

See also