|Category||Second-level administrative division|
The municipalities or municipios of El Salvador correspond to the second level administrative division in the Republic of El Salvador which divide its departments. El Salvador contains 262 municipalities.
The Municipal Code emitted in the January 31, 1986 and which now regulates the municipalities establishes the Municipio as the primary unit of political administration in the state organization, established in a determined territory which belongs to it, with political autonomy.
San Salvador, founded in 1525 by Pedro de Alvarado, is the first municipality established in Central America. The Spanish organized the cabildos and ayuntamientos in the cities.
In the first Constitution of the State of El Salvador, the limits of each municipality were established. On September 4, 1832, the Reglament of Political Governors, Municipalities and Mayors was emitted. This reglament established limits and jurisdictions for the Departments and regulated the municipalities and the position of Mayors. According to the reglament, the municipal councils were organized according to the following criteria:
|200 to 500||1||2||1|
|1000 to 2000||2||6||2|
|2000 to 4000||2||8||2|
To become a member of the municipal council the requirements were: citizenship, 25 years of age, of "known morality", and being a neighbor of the territory or region of the municipality. The municipalities that were capitals of partidos (districts) had to establish Juntas de sanidad (boards of sanitation) composed of the First Alcalde, the parroquial priest, one Regidor, those trained in or practicing medicine or surgery and one neighbor named by the municipal council. The municipality was in charge of the statistics and public works of its jurisdiction.
On December 9, 1854, the government decreed various changes for the governance of municipalities. The number of members of the municipal councils was reformed in the following way: there would be 1 Alcalde and 1 Síndico for each population and the number of regidores would be determined according to the following criteria:
This decree also established the Juzgado de Paz (Justice of the Peace) which separated judicial matters from the political government of the municipalities. These were established with the following numbers:
On November 12, 1861, the government of president Gerardo Barrios decreed the Reglamento de Gobernadores, Jefes de Partido, Concejos Municipales, Alcaldes y Jueces de Paz. This bylaw had the purpose of remediating the confusions caused by the various and diverse laws emitted for the regulation of municipalities and to regulate the attributions of Jefes de Partido (District Chiefs) and to ensure the collection and legal investment of municipal funds.
On February 15, 1866, during the administration of president Francisco Dueñas, the House of Senators issued the Código Político y Municipal (Political and Municipal Code), it entered into validity after its publication in the official newspaper El Constitucional on April 4, 1867. this code replaced the Reglament of 1861 which was considered to be in disharmony with the laws that assured the independence of municipal and judicial functionaries and contained "dispositions which were too complicated and impracticable in the management and counting of municipal funds." According to the Code, the municipal councils were proportioned with 1 Alcalde and 1 Síndico with:
The Constitution of 1886 established the character of popular elections in the municipal government. On May 8, 1897, the National Assembly emitted a Law of the Municipal Branch which was sanctioned by the executive office in May 16. On April 28, 1908 another Law of the Municipal Branch was issued. The Constitution of 1939 passed the election of local governments to the executive office, but in the constitutional reforms made in 1945 and in the Constitution of 1950, political autonomy was returned to the municipalities.
According to Chapter I, Title IV of the Municipal Code, the requirements for the creation of a municipality are:
The creation, fusion or incorporation of municipalities corresponds to the Legislative Assembly.
The municipal government is exerted by a Consejo Municipal (Municipal Council), which has the characteristics of deliberative and normative. It is integrated by an Alcalde (Mayor), one Sindico (Legal representative) and a number of proprietary Regidores (Council members) that is proportionate to the population and 4 auxiliary Regidores.
The proportion of the amount of Regidores is:
Members of the municipal councils must be both at least 21 and residents of the municipality.
Directly elected, municipal officials serve three-year terms and may be re-elected. Municipios are not all of equal size but are required to have a population of at least 10,000. Boundaries are determined by the Legislative Assembly.
The powers of local government are those given by the central government. Because department governors are appointed by the president, their independence is questionable. Despite their status as elected representatives, the powers of municipal officeholders are also limited in certain key areas. The most glaring example is taxation.
Although the municipal councils are allowed to suggest local taxes and tax rates, only the Legislative Assembly has the power to levy the taxes. Therefore, all funds used by the councils are appropriated and disbursed by the assembly, but such funds are earmarked in the budget and are not incorporated into the central government's general fund.
Among the duties relegated to the municipal councils under the Salvadoran Municipal Code is the holding of town meetings (cabildos abiertos) at least once every three months.
The council is enjoined from acting against the majority opinion expressed at the town meetings. The municipal councils also grant legal recognition (personalidad juridica) to communal associations in their municipios. The councils are required to meet periodically with representatives of the communal associations and to consult with them on the appointment of representatives to advisory and other local commissions. The councils also issue local ordinances and regulations.
Municipalities are subdivided into one urban area which is the municipal capital and various cantons which compromise its rural population. Cantons are composed of Caseríos.