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Denmark is divided into five regions and 98 municipalities (Danish: kommuner, sing.: kommune). This was established per an administrative reform, effective January 1, 2007 which replaced the counties (amter) with five regions (regioner). The 270 municipalities were consolidated into 98 larger units, most of which have at least 20,000 inhabitants. The reason was to give the new municipalities greater financial and professional sustainability. Many of the responsibilities of the former counties were taken over by the enlarged municipalities. 32 of the former municipalities did not merge into larger units, either because they already had merged or had a population larger than 20,000 or because they signed a cooperation agreement with a larger municipality.
Legal foundation of municipalities
The Constitution of Denmark states: "Article 82. The right of municipalities to manage their own affairs independently, under State supervision, shall be laid down by statute."
The 2,522 municipal councillors (and 205 regional councillors) were elected Tuesday, November 15, 2005. In 1997 there were 4,685 municipal and 374 county councillors in the then 275 municipalities and 14 counties. As an example of the reduction in the number of councillors, Bornholm then had a total of 122 councillors in five municipalities and one county (15 county councillors). After the merger January 1, 2003 of the five municipalities and the county, there was one single municipal council with 27 municipal councillors. After January 1, 2007, when Bornholm Regional Municipality lost its (short-lived) county privileges, there is talk of a reduction to 19 municipal councillors, the guidelines for a municipality with between 10,000 and 49,999 inhabitants being a maximum of 21 municipal councillors. The guidelines for municipalities with fewer than 3,500 inhabitants is a maximum of 13 (minimum 5) and with between 3,500 and 9,999 inhabitants a maximum of 17 councillors. The guidelines for over 50,000 inhabitants is a maximum of 25 councillors with the exception of especially populous municipalities; Copenhagen Municipality has 55 municipal councillors, and populous municipalities such as Århus and Aalborg have 31 each, and Odense has 29.
Council elections are held on the third Tuesday of November every four years. The previous were held November 17, 2009 and the next are due to be held November 19, 2013.
The newly formed 5 regional and 66 municipal councils acted as transitional merger committees (sammenlægningsudvalg) in 2006 with the responsibility of arranging the mergers of the old counties and municipalities into 5 and 66 new entities respectively. The councils that were to be merged and replaced/abolished just continued their work one extra year beyond the fixed four year term they were elected for (2002–2005) until 2006, and then ceased to exist.
|Municipalities distributed according to number of inhabitants|
|Inhabitants||Number of municipalities|
April 1, 1970
April 1, 1974
January 1, 2007
|> 150 000||1||4||4|
|100 000–150 000||3||1||2|
|40 000–100 000||10||18||50|
|20 000–40 000||22||25||35|
|15 000–20 000||13||24||0|
|10 000–15 000||22||41||3|
|3 000–10 000||206||160||3|
|< 3 000||821||2||1|
Copenhagen County was not included in the municipal reform of 1 April 1970. Not until 1 April 1974, when Sengeløse municipality after heated debates merged with Høje-Taastrup Municipality, and Store Magleby parish merged with Dragør parish to form the new Dragør Municipality, was Copenhagen County part of the municipal reform, though the county oddly enough never has included Copenhagen Municipality (or Frederiksberg Municipality), but only made use of its name. This is probably because the capital municipality was extremely populous. Thus the number of municipalities was 277 from 1 April 1970 to 1 April 1974, from that date dropping to 275. This is almost never mentioned, instead only the remarks "since 1970 there was a reduction to 275 municipalities in Denmark" being mentioned, which is obviously not factually precise, since the (date and) year should be (1 April) 1974, exactly four (4) years later. Still, the reform is called "The municipal reform of 1970", because the decisive changes happened 1 April 1970, when 1098 municipalities were reduced to 277. The reform was initiated from 1958 by the Interior Minister Søren Olesen, and mostly during the 1960s, the number of municipalities was reduced voluntarily from 1386 to the 1098 municipalities being merged 1 April 1970 to form 277 municipalities.
The 275 municipalities existed from 1 April 1974 until 31 December 2002, when the five municipalities on Bornholm merged with the county to form Bornholm regional municipality, in the process abolishing the county and thereby reducing the number of counties to 13. This brought the number of municipalities down to 271 from 1 January 2003. Marstal municipality and Ærøskøbing municipality, both on the island of Ærø, were allowed by the Danish government to merge from 1 January 2006 to form Ærø municipality, thus bringing the number of municipalities down to 270 that were finally reduced by mergers from 1 January 2007 to form 98 municipalities. This merger was part of the 2007 municipal reform, decided in a final agreement after the national election of 2005, and thus it is sometimes mentioned (by politicians) that "271 municipalities merged from 1 January 2007 to form 98 municipalities", which is obviously wrong.
A parliamentary majority (elected in 2001) backing the reform was secured already 24 June 2004 when the Danish People's Party (then 22 seats) said it would support an agreement with the government coalition of Venstre (then 56 seats) and the Conservative People's Party (then 16 seats), thus securing 94 seats (90 needed for a majority in the 179 seat Folketing). The final agreement from 2005 included more parties.
Until 1978 the fiscal year from 1 April to 31 March was in use in the public sector since a law was passed in 1849. As a consequence of a law passed by the Folketing in 1976, from 1 January 1979 the fiscal year is concurrent with the calendar year. Many reforms and laws passed prior to 1979 therefore have effect from 1 April.
Municipal Reform of 2007
The Municipal Reform of 2007 is the name given to the agreement of merging many municipalities, as well as replacing the 13 counties with five regions, which was ratified by the parties Venstre, Conservative People's Party, Danish People's Party, Social Democratic Party and Det Radikale Venstre on June 16, 2005 effective as of January 1, 2007. The reform replaced the structure of municipalities and counties introduced with the reform of 1970.
Since the counties weren't the only structure based on the municipal layout of Denmark, other related changes were necessary as well. Thus, police districts (reduced from 54 to 12), court districts (reduced from 82 to 24), and electoral wards also needed to be updated after the municipal reform.
List of municipalities
Until December 31, 2006, Denmark was divided into 13 counties, and 270 municipalities.
- (Danish) Erik Harder: Dansk kommunestyre i grundtræk. 4. udgave. København 1985. Forlaget Kommuneinformation. Template:ISBNlink Number of municipalities through the times, etc.
- (Danish) Ove Hansen: Sådan styres kommunen. 1. udgave. 1. oplag. 1978. AOF's Forlag og Forlaget Fremad. Template:ISBNlink Number of councillors, etc.
- (Danish)Eniro map with 98 named municipalities
- (Danish)Printable map of municipalities (Krak) (outline of municipality visible but does not print out)
- (Danish)Maps (pdf) of local Government administration 1660-2007.Vælg et årstal:Select a year
- Ministry of the Interior and Health:Structural reform with report from the Commission on Administrative Structure etc.
Template:Municipalities of Denmark
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