Municipalities of Denmark
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Denmark is divided into five regions, which contain 98 municipalities (Danish: kommuner, sing.: kommune). This structure was established per an administrative reform (Danish, Strukturreformen) of the whole public sector of Denmark, effective 1 July 2005 (council elections 15 November 2005), which abolished the counties (amter;singular amt) and created five regions (regioner;singular region) which unlike the counties (1970-2006) (Danish (singular) amtskommune literally County Municipality) are not municipalities. The 270 municipalities were consolidated into 98 larger units, most of which have at least 20,000 inhabitants.
67 of the present municipalities are mergers as a result of the administrative reform, with Ærø being allowed to merge already 1 January 2006, and one municipality, Bornholm Regional Municipality being a merger from 1 January 2003, that is 68 merged municipalities in all. The 30 remaining municipalities have not merged.
Before the merger on Bornholm there were 275 municipalities in Denmark, and 14 counties. Two sui generis municipalities, namely Copenhagen and Frederiksberg, were never a part of a county, but were counties in their own right.
For growth in population numbers, see Regions of Denmark.
Many of the responsibilities of the former counties were taken over by the 98 existing municipalities. With the increased responsibilities, the income tax that each of the 98 municipalities levies was raised by 3 percentage points from 1 January 2007. This tax had once been a part of the tax levied by the now former counties.
The Capital Region has 29 municipalities, Southern Denmark 22, Central Denmark 19, Zealand 17 and North Denmark 11. Use the Municipalities of Denmark template at the bottom of this page to access the pages of the municipalities.
The existing coat of arms of the municipalities.
The average land area of a Danish municipality is 432.59 km2, 167.08 square miles.
Legal foundation of municipalities
2,522 municipal councillors (and 205 regional councillors) were elected on Tuesday 15 November 2005 being the first councils elected since the new reform. 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 on 1 January 2003 of the five municipalities and the county, there was one single municipal council with 27 municipal councillors. They were reduced to 23 from 1 January 2018. After 1 January 2007, when Bornholm Regional Municipality lost its (short-lived;4 years 2003 until 2006) county privileges, there is talk of a reduction to 19 municipal councillors, the guidelines for a municipality with over 20,000 inhabitants being a maximum of 31 and minimum of 19 municipal councillors and the guidelines for a municipality with less than 20,000 inhabitants being a maximum of 31 and minimum of 9 municipal councillors. These guidelines replaced the old guidelines with the council elections in 2005 after the laws initiating the structural reform were passed in parliament. Many newly formed municipalities have chosen to have a maximum number of councillors so that all parts of the new municipalities and the small political parties have a chance of representation in the new councils; Copenhagen Municipality has 55 municipal councillors, and populous municipalities such as Århus and Aalborg have 31 each, and Odense has 29. Gentofte (from 17 to 19 cllrs in elections 2009), Glostrup (from 17 to 19 cllrs in 2009), and Hørsholm (from 15 to 19 cllrs in 2005) are examples of municipalities that have increased the number of councillors because of the new guidelines.
Council elections are held on the third Tuesday of November every four years. The previous were held on 21 November 2017.
The newly formed 5 regional and 66 municipal councils acted as transitional merger committees (sammenlægningsudvalg) in 2006 with the responsibility of arranging the mergers (singular sammenlægning) of the old counties and municipalities into 5 and 66 new entities respectively. The 238 municipal councils and 13 county councils that were to be merged and replaced/abolished just continued their work one extra year beyond the fixed four-year term of office they were elected for (2002–2005) until 2006, and then ceased to exist. 32 municipalities including those of the recently formed Ærø Municipality (which was included in the reform) and Bornholm Regional Municipality (which was not merged as a result of the reform, merger decided locally by voters already 29 May 2001 and made effective from 1 January 2003) remained unchanged and were not merged with other municipalities.
Local elections have also been held in uneven years earlier, but immediately before 1 January 1979, when the fiscal year in the public sector was changed from 1 April until 31 March into 1 January until 31 December, local elections were held in March and the elected councillors took their seats the following month, 1 April. Elections were held in even years (a few examples given here): March 1966, March 1970, March 1974, March 1978. Term of office for local politicians elected in 1978 was 1 April 1978 until 31 December 1981. Local elections were held in November 1981 for the 4-year term of office (1 January) 1982- (31 December) 1985. November 1985 local elections were for the following 4-year term of office (1986-1989), etc. The election pages can be accessed from the templates at the bottom of each election page.
Number of municipal councillors elected and term of office:
- Elections November 2005: 2006/07-2009:2,522
- Elections November 2009: 2010-2013:2,468
- Elections November 2013: 2014-2017:2,444
- Elections November 2017: 2018-2021:2,432
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|Municipalities distributed according to number of inhabitants|
|Inhabitants||Number of municipalities|
1 April 1970
1 April 1974
1 January 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|
Some municipalities in Copenhagen County merged after the municipal reform of 1 April 1970. Sengeløse municipality merged with Høje-Taastrup Municipality, and Store Magleby parish merged with Dragør parish to form the new Dragør Municipality 1 April 1974. The voters of Sengeløse - which was created a municipality 1 April 1970 but only existed until 31 March 1974, being deemed too small in population - and Store Magleby parish were almost exclusively owner-occupiers, who voted center-rightwing in elections for the municipal council, whereas Høje-Taastrup Municipality and Dragør parish consisted of mainly tenants who rented their apartments and who voted center-leftwing, so heated debates took place before the mergers, because the center-rightwing voters in the merged municipalities would be in minority at the elections. (Since 1 January 1962 only two mayors of Høje-Taastrup have been Social Democrats, namely Per Søndergaard from 1978 until 1981 (four years), and Anders Bak (1948-2006) from 1986 until 2005 (20 years);Michael Ziegler, Conservative People's Party, has been mayor from 1 January 2006). 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[where?], 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. Also on 1 April 1974, Avedøre, which was part of Glostrup Municipality, was conjoined with Hvidovre Municipality. This combination was logical, as Avedøre borders Hvidovre, but is separated from Glostrup. The reform was initiated from 1958 by the Interior Minister Søren Olesen, (1891-1973), a member of the Justice Party of Denmark, and mostly during the 1960s, the number of municipalities was reduced voluntarily from its maximum number of 1345 (with more than 13,000 councillors) - of which 1257 parish municipalities (800 of which had no staff employed except the mayor and treasurer/supervisor of the administration (Danish kæmner - a term last used - until 1996 - in Sindal, today a part of Hjørring Municipality), both employed part-time) and 88, including Copenhagen and Frederiksberg, market city municipalities - in 1965 to the 1098 municipalities (with more than 11,000 councillors) 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[who?]) 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 abolishing the 13 counties and setting up 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 16 June 2005 effective by departmental order (Danish ministeriel bekendtgørelse) 1 July 2005 with almost all the mergers of the municipalities taking place 1 January 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), electoral wards, and parishes in the Church of Denmark also needed to be updated after the municipal reform.
The reason for the reform was to save manpower by letting the citizens (Danish (plural) borgere, (singular) borger), and enterprises (Danish (plural) virksomheder, (singular) virksomhed) do self-service via the internet portals of the public sector concerning taxes, hospital visits, welfare payments, etc., and - amidst falling population numbers - give the new municipalities greater financial and professional sustainability. In short: fewer people, fewer municipalities. Also, Denmark (i.e. Denmark proper (Danish Egentlige Danmark), not the Unity of the Realm (Danish Rigsfællesskabet)) is the smallest in area of the Nordic countries, and 98 municipalities and 5 regions are enough for such a small country.
Presented in a report put forward as a proposal by the government in April 2004, a political majority with 94 seats (out of 179 seats) behind the reform was reached 24 June 2004. The report on the structural reform of the public sector was first presented 9 January 2004 by the commission which was set up by the government 1 October 2002. The laws behind the mergers were subjected to a hearing from 1 December 2004 to collect opinions - for or against or to modify the laws - from organisations and individuals. Presented in February 2005 to the Folketing, the lawmakers finally approved the last of the 50 bills needed for the mergers by voting for the bills 16 June 2005. Half of the bills received support from more political parties than the three parties with the political majority of 94 seats. Then the mergers were specified and approved in a departmental order (Danish ministeriel bekendtgørelse) signed 29 June 2005 by Lars Løkke Rasmussen, then minister of the interior and health and the approval being effective from 1 July 2005. As a curiosity, all of Billund Airport, then partly located in Give Municipality, became a part of Billund Municipality (Danish Wikipedia Billund Kommune), and any future expansion of the airport will become a part of Billund Municipality.
The then 271 municipalities and 13 counties were all part of the reform, with Ærø Municipality being allowed by the government to be formed already Sunday 1 January 2006 after a referendum on the island had decided to merge the two municipalities on the island to form one municipality, in the process bringing the number of municipalities down to 270. Three sui generis municipalities who were also counties lost their county privileges and became part of the Capital Region of Denmark, although one of these three municipalities, Bornholm, which was created 1 January 2003 after the merger of its county with the 5 municipalities was approved in a law by the Folketing 19 March 2002 - thereby abolishing one of the 14 counties in the process - because of its remote location 150 km (93 mi) southeast of Copenhagen retains some regional functions and is thus called a Regional Municipality - it performs some tasks that are only performed by the regions in the rest of Denmark. From 1 January 2018 Fanø Municipality will also handle a task on the island which was formerly the responsibility of the Region of Southern Denmark, namely public mass transit.
List of municipalities
Until 31 December 2006 Denmark was divided into 13 counties, and 270 municipalities.
Municipal organisations and enterprises
- NUTS statistical regions of Denmark
- ISO 3166-2:DK
- First-level NUTS of the European Union
- Referendum on merger of Holstebro and Struer municipalities 3 December 2015 (merger turned down by voters)(Danish)
- The administrative reform in Estonia 1 November 2017 (Estonian)
- Municipal reform in Norway (final by 2020)(Norwegian)
- Regional reform in Norway(Norwegian)
- Regional health corporation (merged health and hospital regions) (Norwegian)
- Reform (merger) of police districts 2015 (Norwegian)
- (in Danish) Erik Harder: Dansk kommunestyre i grundtræk. 4. udgave. København 1985. Forlaget Kommuneinformation. ISBN 87-7316-211-6. Number of municipalities through the times, etc.
- (in Danish) Ove Hansen: Sådan styres kommunen. 1. udgave. 1. oplag. 1978. AOF's Forlag og Forlaget Fremad. ISBN 87-7403-131-7. Number of councillors, etc.
- (in Danish)Eniro map with 98 named municipalities
- (in Danish)Printable map of municipalities (Krak) (outline of municipality visible but does not print out)
- (in 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.