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World Mayors and politics

Belgian Mayors (2016)
British Mayors (2016)
Canadian Mayors (2016)
French Mayors (2016)
German mayors (2017)
Italian mayors (2016)
Japanese mayors 2016
Polish mayors (2016)
Spanish mayors (2016)
US mayors (2017)

German local government
Indian local government
Ireland local government
Italian local government
Russian local government
UK local government
US local government

City Mayors Foundation

Sanctuary cities pledge to continue
to protect undocumented immigrants

Society: The US Justice Department recently sent our letters to nine so-called Sanctuary Cities, including New York, Chicago, New Orleans and Philadelphia, warning them of the withdrawal of federal funding unless they publically participated in finding and deporting undocumented immigrants. Sanctuary cities in the US offer a degree of safety to immigrants without work or residency permits. Leaders of sanctuary cities want to reduce the fear of deportation and possible family break-up, so that such residents will be more willing to report crimes, use health and social services, and enrol their children in school. MORE

World mayors, their
parties and politics

Local government & politics: Well into the second decade of this century, the global pattern of urbanization remains wedded to governance by mayors and city leaders of differing political colours. In this biennial survey of urban political allegiances (since 2009), City Mayors examines the role of partisan politics in how mayors are chosen to lead the world's largest cities, even in what is occasionally termed an anti-political era. Europe recorded a number of minor upsets to the established order since the last survey, but the bigger story here is perhaps the clean sweep witnessed in Latin America of parties of the centre-right. MORE

German local government
and mayors of largest cities

Government: Germany is a country made up of thousands of towns and cities, all with directly elected mayors. A city (Großstadt) is officially defined as an administration unit with a population greater than 100,000. As of 2013, there are 76 cities in Germany. Only four cities, Berlin, Hamburg, München (Munich) and Köln (Cologne), are Millionenstädte - cities with a population of more than one million. Nine cities have a population of more than 500,000 people. The mayors’ terms of office vary between five and nine years, depending on the state. Each municipal council is headed by an elected mayor, known as Bürgermeister  - or Oberbürgermeister (lord mayor) in most larger cities. Extended and updated March 2017

US local government and
mayors of largest cities

Government: There are 19,429 municipal governments in the United States. Many small towns use the council-manager system (most counties are run this way) and those that don’t, have a weak mayor-council system. Almost all large US cities have strong mayor systems. Towns with populations of 5,000 or less (varies between states) are not allowed to incorporate and are overseen by the county government. Mayors, and the city council, are directly elected. MORE

Italian local government
and mayors of largest cities

Government: Mayors play a central role in Italian national life and are a settled feature of the political system. The more than 8,000 communes are each headed by a mayor (sindaco) and elected council (consiglio communal) of between 15 and 80 members. From the capital Rome to the smallest village, Italian communes coexist on an equal basis, although the mayors of Rome and Milan can be seen as national political figures in their own right. They also enjoy high levels of allegiance from their local populations, making their boundaries hard to amend or reform. MORE

French local government
and mayors of largest cities

Government: Mainland France consists of 36,569 municipalities (communes) in 22 regions. In addition there are 212 communes in French overseas territories. Council elections are held every six years. The last one was held in March 2014. The first task of a newly constituted council is to elect a mayor, whose term of office is six years. If a mayor is appointed to another post in government, a deputy performs his/her duties. A mayor’s responsibilities include: Civil registration, culture, economy, education, environment, public order, roads, social welfare, urban planning. MORE

More public involvement in law
enforcement needed to ease strain
between police and US communities

Society: If a city in the United States wants to build a road, it will have to follow strict design and construction standards regarding pavement depth and materials, lane width, and traffic speed, among other regulations. City codes typically also regulate such actions as sidewalk vendors and property maintenance. Often, local urban planning and economic development proposals require public hearings. Local policing, however, is rarely regulated in the same way. MORE

Spanish local government
and mayors of largest cities

Government: Spanish local government is considered the tier closest to citizens. It is most directly concerned with the daily life of people. Spain is divided into Municipalities (Municipios), with the exception of the Royal Bardenas, in Navarre, a territory declared a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO. The governance of the municipalities belongs to the City Council. It is a collegiate organ that leads the municipal administration.  The City Council is made up of Councillors, elected by popular vote. The number of councillors may vary according to the number of residents, from five to 25. In the municipal elections, all European Union citizens, regardless of nationality, may vote and stand for office. MORE

American cities save money
by replacing obsolete urban
infrastructure with green spaces

Environment: What do urban agriculture, the dark sky movement, and low-impact storm water management have in common in the United States? Very often these sustainable development practices involve the decommissioning of public infrastructure. And the impetus to implement these techniques often has more to do with saving money than saving the environment. MORE

Celebrating migration
Protecting refugees

World Mayor 2016: The 2016 World Mayor Prize will be awarded to a mayor and city that have shown the compassion, courage and foresight to welcome migrants and refugees. The City Mayors Foundation, the organisers of the World Mayor Project, is looking for mayors who have recognised that people, whatever their origin or background, are the most worthy capital the world has to offer. The mayors who will be considered for the World Mayor Prize will have demonstrated that their cities have integrated past migrants and used their skills and knowledge to socially, culturally and economically diversify and enrich society. At a time when there are some 60 million refugees worldwide, mayors to be considered for the World Mayor Prize will also have shown compassion, courage and ability. Compassion for people who travelled great distances to be safe. Courage to fight prejudice. Ability to leverage the value and potential each man offers society. MORE

Tokyo’s first female governor
promises to end financial sleaze

Politics: Put-upon voters in Tokyo went to the polls last weekend to elect a new Governor and overwhelmingly chose their first female city leader, former cabinet minister Yuriko Koike. Koike, who enjoyed a commanding lead in polls through the campaign, was chosen to succeed Yoichi Masuzoe, who resigned in June after his financial scandal engulfed preparations for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Koike was elected as an independent following a bruising campaign against her own Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), which instead ran former interior minister Hiroya Masuda. MORE

Japanese local government
and mayors of largest cities

Government: Japan, the world’s third-largest economy by GDP and 10th largest population, is a unitary state, governed at national level by a Prime Minister and Cabinet largely chosen from the bi-cameral National Diet. The two-tier local government system in Japan is composed of 47 prefectural governments (roughly akin to a county), each headed by a directly-elected Governor (elected on a four-year term) and 1,719 municipalities, each headed by a directly-elected Mayor (elected likewise). MORE

Polish local government
and mayors of largest cities

Government: Since 1999, Poland has been divided into provinces, counties and municipalities. The country has currently 16 provinces, 379 counties, including 65 cities with county status, and 2,479 communes or municipalities. Some 61 per cent of Poland's population of 38.6 million live in cities. The country's capital Warsaw is home to 1.7 million people, while there are four other cities with populations of more than 500,000. Eleven cities have populations of between 200,000 and half a million. MORE

Belgian local government
and mayors of largest cities

Government: Municipal governments in Belgium are vigorous political entities with significant powers and a history of independence dating from medieval times. Many national politicians originate from municipal political bases; and many often double as mayor or alderman in their hometowns in addition to their federal and regional political positions. MORE

Canadian local government
and mayors of largest cities

Government: In Canada cities and towns are considered creatures of provincial and territorial governments, existing by provincial and territorial legislation. Provinces and territories can create,
modify, or eliminate a municipality as they see fit such as amalgamations and the creation of regional governments. They also dictate the limits of the powers of municipal governments. Municipalities are broadly categorized as ‘Upper tier’ municipalities and ‘Lower Tier’ municipalities. There are also cities, which are large enough to function as independent municipalities. These include the City of Toronto and the City of Ottawa. MORE

World’s most violent cities
are in Latin America,
South Africa and the USA

Security: Latin America's cities are the most dangerous in the world. Drug trafficking, gang wars, political instability, corruption, and poverty are the main causes of the continent’s extreme urban violence. Residents of cities in Venezuela, Brazil, Mexico and Colombia are particularly at risk of being caught up in battles between warring gangs. Outside Latin America, US cities like St Louis and Baltimore as well as the South African cities of Cape Town and Johannesburg have also witnessed an increased number of homicides. MORE

English local government
and directly elected mayors

Government: All but 16 of the 326 councils in England are led by a Council Leader elected by their fellow councillors. Since 2002 a small number, as well as Greater London, have been led by mayors elected directly by local voters. Most of the elected mayors in England have responsibility for all local services, with two district council mayors responsible for only environment, planning and housing. All 17 elected mayors are elected on four year terms by the instant run-off Supplementary Vote. There are no elected mayors in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland. View complete update following May 2016 elections

Albania strengthens
democracy by reforming
local government

Government: Less than a year ago, Albania had one of the most centralized governments in the world. Now, local governments are the most important service providers. The intergovernmental system has been upended by design, and momentous political, financial, institutional, and territorial changes are being managed simultaneously by new mayors, new city councils, and new laws governing municipal administration. From now on, the performance of Albania’s entire public sector likely will be determined by what happens at the local level. MORE

Smart cities – a delusion
of misplaced priorities

Development: According to a study by MIT Media Lab, in the future, cities will account for 90 per cent of the global population growth, 80 per cent of wealth creation and 60 per cent of total energy consumption. Developing better strategies is therefore imperative for improving the living environment in our existing cities. Expanding current metropolises by rational planning, and refurbishing infrastructure and amenities in existing cities can be intelligent and sustainable options but are highly challenging in the context of the meager fiscal and other resources and lack of political will. The policymakers are, instead, looking at creating ‘smart cities’ for the future! More

Singapore remains world’s
most expensive city, while Berlin
is one of Europe’s cheapest capitals

Most expensive cities 2016: Singapore retains its title as the world’s most expensive city for a third year in a row, but its lead over the next two cities in the ranking has nearly evaporated, reports the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU). Zurich and Hong Kong follow closely in joint second place, with Hong Kong climbing seven places up the ranking in the last 12 months. London, New York and Los Angeles also move up the ranking to 6th, 7th and 8th place, respectively, displacing Sydney, Melbourne and Oslo from the ten most expensive cities. German cities like Frankfurt and Hamburg have moved down the table, with Berlin being one of the cheapest capitals in Europe. MORE

Mass shootings occur
in the US almost every day

Gun violence in the US in 2015: Since the beginning of 2015 some 13,000 people have died and 26,000 were injured in gun-related incidents in the US. Research shows that almost 700 children and 2,500 teenagers were killed or injured in more than 50,000 incidents. The findings by the Washington-based Gun Violence Archive also reveal that since January 2015 mass shootings, involving four or more dead or wounded victims, took place almost every day. According to the research up to the end of November, there have been some 354 mass shootings in 220 cities in 47 US states. MORE

German mayors say their cities
are ready to receive refugees

Refugees in Germany and Europe: Mayors of Germany’s largest cities are confident that their communities can cope with the arrival of thousands of refugees this winter. The news magazine Der Spiegel asked the mayors of the 30 largest German cities, which are home to some 18 million people, whether they were prepared for the influx. Surprisingly, as the researchers found out, the mayors agree with Chancellor Angela Merkel, who famously said earlier this year that Germany could cope with the arrival of an estimated 800,000 refugees this year. Out of the 30 mayors questioned, only three considered themselves overwhelmed and spoke of a crisis. MORE

London wins gold
in index that measures
benefits of sporting events

Sporting cities: London occupies first place in an index that measures a range of economic and social impacts of major international sporting events on host cities. In the second edition of the Global Sports Cities Index published in November 2015. Rio de Janeiro is in second place followed by Moscow in third. Tokyo and Paris complete the top five.

American cities use knowledge
technology to reduce urban stress

Technology: “Platform” is one of the current trendy words in American English. It is a generic term for the operating system of a computer. But it is also a metaphor for a stage upon which a person or an organization can rise above the commonplace and engage with people in a meaningful way. In the United States, the current fashion in public administration is to view local government as a platform, and progressive mayors as leaders who can build that platform. Based not on the traditional means of citizen participation - volunteerism, voting, public meetings - government as platform relies on technology to engage people. Its point of departure is the idea that data are a vital resource, which can empower people by allowing them to create their own solutions. MORE

Mayors weigh up pros and cons
as drones take off across America

Society: When the City Council of Ferndale, Michigan, near Detroit, proposed a law in April 2015 banning the use of drones on public property in response to the privacy concerns of some city residents, a public outcry forced council members to withdraw the ordinance. Residents with privacy concerns were far outnumbered by residents who believed that restricting the use of drones would “crush the spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship that the drone era is ushering in,” in the words of one person who spoke to the Ferndale City Council at a public hearing about the proposed legislation. MORE

Songs written for
American cities

Culture: It is said there is a song for every city in America. While some songs never got much further than the city limits others became international hits. Gerard Kenny’s 1978 ode to his hometown ‘New York, New York - So Good They Named It Twice’ spelled the re-birth of America’s largest metropolis after it almost went bankrupt in 1975 and one year after a city-wide blackout shut it down for 25 hours. The song ‘If you're going to San Francisco, be sure to wear some flowers in your hair’ sung by Scott McKenzie in 1967 became the anthem for the worldwide flower power movement. MORE

Local government in Kosovo:
Elected mayors are the key

Government: Kosovo became the most recent territory in Europe to claim the status of nation state when it declared independence in 2008. The credibility of any democratic nation depends on the strength of the institutions it builds, notably its capacity to meet citizens’ demands for service delivery and accountability. To this end, Kosovo has embarked on a process of enhancing the performance capacity of government by decentralizing power from the national level to the municipal level. Decentralization is considered a tool to deliver results shaped by local needs and market realities, engage citizens in decision making, and bridge ethnic divisions. And directly-elected mayors assume a primary role in helping ensure accountability, transparency and responsibility. MORE

Corrupt US mayors pose a
threat to decency in society

Politics: The preamble to the City Mayors’ Code of Ethics states that honest local government is the foundation of any nation that strives to provide its citizens with happiness, security and prosperity. It continues to say that corruption and misconduct by local government officials threaten fundamental decency in a society. America’s FBI, which warns that public corruption poses a fundamental threat to national security and the US way of life, has over the past four decades investigated hundreds of elected officials, who used their positions to enrich themselves. Among those convicted are leaders of some of the largest US cities, including Detroit, New Orleans or Baltimore, but also many mayors from small-town America. MORE

A second tier of US metro areas
is attracting mobile Americans

Society: America is known as a mobile society, and Americans move for many reasons: better jobs, better weather, lower housing costs, lower taxes, and so on. The trend to urbanization is national in scope, affecting every state and almost every region of the country. General population movements between regions have also been notable, of course, the most prominent being the shift from Rustbelt in the north to Sunbelt in the south. While the general population migrations receive most of the attention, a more particular shift appears to be occurring among metro areas. Approximately 15 second-tier metro areas have become ‘centers of gravity’, attracting people and capital from other metro areas. MORE

The largest US cities:
Nine cities with more than one million people
New York City and Los Angeles grow fastest

Population: The US has nine cities with populations topping one million. New York City, with more than eight million residents, is by far the largest US city. Los Angeles, in second place, has a population of just below four million people. Both Chicago and Houston have populations of more than two million. Other cities with more than one million citizens include Philadelphia, Phoenix and San Diego. | Introduction | Largest 1 - 100 | Largest 101 - 200 | Fastest growing | Fastest shrinking |

Megaregions are predicted to propel
US population and economic growth

Development: It’s a commonplace among urban planners and many policymakers that regions are the basic unit of economic competitiveness in the global economy. America 2050, part of the Regional Plan Association, reckons that America’s population growth and and even a larger share of the country’s economic expansion will occur in 11 megaregions. Yet nowhere in the industrialized world are regions given fewer resources and less power than in the United States. MORE

Flourishing cities
embrace immigrants

Society: Without migration homo sapiens would not dominate today’s world. Had our ancestors stayed in central Africa some 50,000 years ago, the human race would have developed very differently. The drive to spread out geographically, for whatever reason, is part of our make-up and is behind Man’s success story. Many recent scientific and technological advances - e.g. the telephone, the internet, space exploration - are the result of our need to move beyond local boundaries. Migration will remain a dominant feature of further human development, a fact recognised by many progressive city mayors from around the world. MORE

Directories of European
and North American cities

City Mayors' internet directories provide one-click access to the websites of European and North American cities. EUROPE | NORTH AMERICA

Urban population growth
between 1950 and 2030

Statistics: In 2008, the world reached an invisible but momentous milestone: For the first time in history, more than half its human population, 3.3 billion people, lived in urban areas. By 2030, this is expected to swell to more than five billion. Urbanisation has already surpassed the 90-per-cent mark, not only in city states like Singapore and Kuwait, but also in Belgium, Venezuela, Uruguay, Argentina, Israel and the UK. In the US, where for the past 100 years the majority of people have been living in cities, more than 82 per cent of the total population now reside in urban areas. MORE

Women in cities give much
but take far less than men

Society: Women in developing countries contribute significantly to the prosperity of cities but they are often the last to benefit. This becomes evident, a new report says, in notable gender gaps in labour and employment, pay, tenure rights, access to and accumulation of assets, personal security and safety and representation in formal structures of urban governance. The report Gender and the Prosperity of Cities recommends that cities formulate gender policies, strengthen accountability for gender equality and enhance strategies for the economic empowerment and livelihoods of women. MORE

The City Mayors Foundation was established in 2003 to promote, campaign for and facilitate good, open and strong local government

The 2016 World
Mayor Honours

1 Bart Somers, Mechelen, Belgium

2 Wolfgang G Müller, Lahr, Germany

3 Georgios Kaminis, Athens, Greece

4 Guisi Nicolini, Lampedusa, Italy

5 Richard Arnold, Schwäbisch Gmünd,

6 Mirjam van 't Veld, Amstelveen Netherlands

7 Spiros Galinos, Lesbos, Greece

8 Pavel Adamowicz, Gdansk, Poland

9 Damien Carême, Grande-Synthe, France

10 Henriette Reker, Cologne, Germany

City Mayors has instituted a Code of Ethics for city leaders who wish to perform their duties beyond all reproach