Because the municipal council of the 170-strong village is still not complete, the canton of Baselland appoints a governor.
Four times Kilchberg (BL) called for elections, four times it didn’t work out: one of the three seats in the municipal council is still vacant. The canton of Baselland therefore has no choice but to appoint a governor – as the third municipal councilor, so to speak.
What does “compulsory administration” mean?
The Historical Lexicon of Switzerland defines the provisional administration, also known as compulsory administration, of a municipality as follows: Municipalities are autonomous regional authorities, but are under the primary supervision of the cantonal or district authorities. In the event of gross mismanagement or persistent non-performance of municipal tasks, cantonal law generally provides that the administration can be fully or partially transferred to a cantonal authority. The constitutionally protected municipal autonomy is thus lost. In some cantons, parliament is responsible for ordering this measure, while in others the government decides.
Andreas Ladner: “Commissarial Administration”, in: Historical Encyclopedia of Switzerland (HLS), 2007
Christine Mangold will assume this role from January 1, 2023. The liberal has many years of experience in cantonal and municipal politics. However, she does not want to remain governor for long.
She is working towards a quick solution: “I want to show people that working on a municipal council is a great job,” says Mangold. She would therefore like to be replaced by a person who was regularly elected by the people of Kilchberg and who also accepts this election.
As governor of the canton, Mangold will take over the two departments of the vacant municipal council seat. At an hourly rate of 85 francs, she takes care of these tasks until the community has elected someone back to office.
Governor Christine Mangold
Because receivership is very rare, the canton of Baselland has not hired any people for this task, but the government council appoints suitable people on an ad hoc basis. The liberal Christine Mangold (born in 1955) was a member of the cantonal parliament from 1999 to 2009 and a member of the Gelterkinden municipal council for 24 years, where she was also mayor for a long time.
This partial compulsory administration is initially scheduled for one year. If the replacement election is successful, the governor can resign earlier, but if there is a longer vacancy, she can continue by new government decision.
Also affected: Zurich, Solothurn and Valais
The fact that municipalities are placed under forced administration by the respective canton is “extremely rare” in Switzerland, says the director of the Swiss Association of Municipalities, Christoph Niederberger. He doesn’t know exact figures; perhaps a handful of individual cases are known.
These include Turbenthal (ZH) 1888, Leukerbad (VS) 1998, Hersberg (BL) 2008 or Seewen (SO) 2022. The reasons for this harsh measure are always specific, also because different requirements apply to municipalities under cantonal law.
The militia principle is one reason for the difficulties. Volunteers are needed for the offices in the communities. According to Niederberger, accepting this task is not an obligation for eligible people.
Niederberger sees a possible solution in financial compensation. This is clearly regulated in the canton of St. Gallen, for example. There, municipal councils are full-time positions from a certain number of inhabitants, and in some cases the offices are advertised through job advertisements.
Another point is the division of tasks: In some places, the employed municipal clerks could relieve the militia politics a lot. However, Niederberger does not see the biggest problem in the lack of staff in local politics, but rather in the lack of skilled workers on the labor market for the administrations.
That’s why our militia system won’t collapse.
Such an individual case of receivership is not bad per se, because the procedure for this is regulated – with the receivership by the canton. According to Christoph Niederberger, everything continues to be orderly: “That’s not why our militia system collapses”.