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The Burgomaster's Family, possibly painted by Gerard Donck c. 1640 'The Burgomaster's Family', Dutch oil on canvas painting, c. 1640, Honolulu Academy of Arts.jpg
The Burgomaster's Family, possibly painted by Gerard Donck c.1640
Manneken Pis dressed as a burgomaster from the Seven Noble Houses of Brussels. Manneken Pis en costume des Lignages de Bruxelles.jpg
Manneken Pis dressed as a burgomaster from the Seven Noble Houses of Brussels.

Burgomaster (alternatively spelled burgermeister, literally "master of the town, master of the borough, master of the fortress, master of the citizens") is the English form of various terms in or derived from Germanic languages for the chief magistrate or executive of a city or town. The name in English was derived from the Dutch burgemeester.


In some cases, burgomaster was the title of the head of state and head of government of a sovereign (or partially or de facto sovereign) city-state, sometimes combined with other titles, such as Hamburg's First Mayor and President of the Senate). Contemporary titles are commonly translated into English as mayor .

Historical use

Caption of a Burgermeisteramt from 1505 (burgomaster Erhart Huck of Bozen, South Tyrol) HS 140 fol 53v BMraitung Erhart Hugkh 1505.jpg
Caption of a Bürgermeisteramt from 1505 (burgomaster Erhart Huck of Bozen, South Tyrol)

Contemporary use

By jurisdiction

Arnold von Brauweiler, a German burgomaster, known in German as Burgermeister Bartholomaus Bruyn (I) - Burgomaster Arnold von Brauweiler - WGA03660.jpg
Arnold von Brauweiler, a German burgomaster, known in German as Bürgermeister
Session of the council of the community Oude IJsselstreek, eastern Netherlands: mayor Steven de Vreeze (right) as chairman of the council. 2015-04-02 raadsvergadering oij 08.JPG
Session of the council of the community Oude IJsselstreek, eastern Netherlands: mayor Steven de Vreeze (right) as chairman of the council.

Low Countries

In the Netherlands and Belgium, the mayor (Dutch : burgemeester or French : bourgmestre) is an appointed government position, whose main responsibility is chairing the executive and legislative councils of a municipality.

In the Netherlands, mayors chair both the council of mayor and aldermen and the municipal council. [9] They are members of the council of mayor and aldermen (Dutch : college van burgemeester en wethouders, B&W) and have their own portfolios, always including safety and public order. They also have a representative role for the municipal government, both to its civilians and to other authorities on the local, regional and national level.

A large majority of mayors are members of a political party. This can be the majority party in the municipal council, but there are many exceptions on this. However, the mayors are expected to exercise their office in a non-partisan way.

The mayor is appointed by the national government (the Crown) for a renewable six-year term. In the past, mayors for important cities were often chosen after negotiations (behind the scenes) between the national parties. This appointment procedure has been criticised because it was seen by some as undemocratic. Especially the party D66 had a direct election of the mayor as one of the main objectives in its platform. In the early 2000s, proposals for change were discussed in the national parliament. However, opponents of the status quo were divided between two alternatives: direct election of the mayor by the people or appointment by the municipal council. A constitutional change to direct election gained a majority in both chambers but failed to pass the final vote in the Senate in March 2005.

In the meantime, although the law remained the same, the practice changed. Nowadays, when a vacancy occurs, a special committee of the municipal council interviews (behind closed doors) candidates, which are pre-selected by the provincial governor (the King's Commissioner). After advice by the committee, the council express its preferences to the Minister of the Interior, who almost always follows this recommendation.

Related Research Articles

In many countries, a mayor is the highest-ranking official in a municipal government such as that of a city or a town. Worldwide, there is a wide variance in local laws and customs regarding the powers and responsibilities of a mayor as well as the means by which a mayor is elected or otherwise mandated. Depending on the system chosen, a mayor may be the chief executive officer of the municipal government, may simply chair a multi-member governing body with little or no independent power, or may play a solely ceremonial role. A mayor's duties and responsibilities may be to appoint and oversee municipal managers and employees, provide basic governmental services to constituents, and execute the laws and ordinances passed by a municipal governing body. Options for selection of a mayor include direct election by the public, or selection by an elected governing council or board.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Saint-Josse-ten-Noode</span> Municipality of the Brussels-Capital Region, Belgium

Saint-Josse-ten-Noode or Sint-Joost-ten-Node, often simply called Saint-Josse in French or Sint-Joost in Dutch, is one of the 19 municipalities of the Brussels-Capital Region, Belgium. Located in the north-eastern part of the region, it is bordered by the City of Brussels and Schaerbeek.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Municipalities of Belgium</span> Administrative divisions of Belgium

Belgium comprises 581 municipalities, 300 of them grouped into five provinces in Flanders and 262 others in five provinces in Wallonia, while the remaining 19 are in the Brussels Capital Region, which is not divided in provinces. In most cases, the municipalities are the smallest administrative subdivisions of Belgium, but in municipalities with more than 100,000 inhabitants, on the initiative of the local council, sub-municipal administrative entities with elected councils may be created. As such, only Antwerp, having over 500,000 inhabitants, became subdivided into nine districts. The Belgian arrondissements, an administrative level between province and municipality, or the lowest judicial level, are in English sometimes called districts as well.

A councillor is an elected representative for a local government council in some countries.

A minister-president or minister president is the head of government in a number of European countries or subnational governments with a parliamentary or semi-presidential system of government where they preside over the council of ministers. It is an alternative term for prime minister, premier, chief minister, or first minister and very similar to the title of president of the council of ministers.

Lord mayor is a title of a mayor of what is usually a major city in a Commonwealth realm, with special recognition bestowed by the sovereign. However, the title or an equivalent is present in other countries, including forms such as "high mayor". Aldermen usually elect the lord mayor from their ranks.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Johannes Hudde</span>

JohannesHudde was a burgomaster (mayor) of Amsterdam between 1672 – 1703, a mathematician and governor of the Dutch East India Company.

A schepen or échevin (French) or Schöffe (German) is a municipal officer in Belgium and formerly the Netherlands. It has been replaced by the wethouder in the Netherlands.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mayor of Frankfurt</span>

The Mayor of Frankfurt is the highest-ranking member of city government in Frankfurt, Germany. The mayor was traditionally elected by the city council. This system was replaced in 1995, and the position has been directly elected. Two people have won election since then: Petra Roth (CDU) and Peter Feldmann (SPD). Current mayor Nargess Eskandari-Grünberg (Green) assumed the office in November 2022 following a successful recall election against Feldmann.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Louise Schroeder</span> German politician

Louise Dorothea Schroeder was a German politician of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) party. She was among the 41 female members of the Weimar National Assembly, the Constituent Assembly of the Weimar Republic and subsequently remained a member of the Reichstag until 1933. An educator and activist central in the Arbeiterwohlfahrt movement, and she was under scrutiny of the Nazi Party during the 1930s and 1940s for her socialist positions. After the partition of Germany following World War II, she served as governing mayor of West Berlin in 1948. Until Franziska Giffey was sworn in in 2021, she was the only woman to have served as Mayor of Berlin.

Sovereign is a title that can be applied to the highest leader in various categories. The word is borrowed from Old French souverain, which is ultimately derived from the Latin superānus, meaning 'above'.

The government of Hamburg is divided into executive, legislative and judicial branches. Hamburg is a city-state and municipality, and thus its governance deals with several details of both state and local community politics. It takes place in two ranks – a citywide and state administration, and a local rank for the boroughs. The head of the city-state's government is the First Mayor and President of the Senate. A ministry is called Behörde (office) and a state minister is a Senator in Hamburg. The legislature is the state parliament, called Hamburgische Bürgerschaft, and the judicial branch is composed of the state supreme court and other courts. The seat of the government is Hamburg Rathaus. The President of the Hamburg Parliament is the highest official person of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg. This is a traditional difference to the other German states. The president is not allowed to exert any occupation of the executive.

<i>Zar und Zimmermann</i>

Zar und Zimmermann is a comic opera in three acts, music by Albert Lortzing, libretto by the composer after Georg Christian Römer's Der Bürgermeister von Saardam, oder Die zwei Peter, itself based on the French play Le Bourgmestre de Saardam, ou Les deux Pierre by Mélésville, Jean-Toussaint Merle, and Eugène Centiran de Boirie. Ultimately, it goes back to the historical Grand Embassy of Peter the Great. Gaetano Donizetti had set the same story in his 1827 opera Il borgomastro di Saardam.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Municipal executive</span>

In the Netherlands, the municipal executive is the executive board of a municipality. It plays a central role in municipal politics in the Netherlands, similar to the communal college in Belgium. It consists of the mayor and the members of the municipal executive (aldermen).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Governing Mayor of Berlin</span>

The Governing Mayor of Berlin is the head of government, presiding over the Berlin Senate. As Berlin is an independent city as well as one of the constituent States of Germany, the office is the equivalent of the Ministers President of the other German states, except the states of Hamburg and Bremen, where the heads of government are called "First Mayor" and "President of the Senate and Mayor", respectively. The title Governing Mayor of Berlin is the equivalent of Lord Mayor in the meaning of an actual executive leader.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sybrand van Haersma Buma</span> Dutch politician

Sybrand van Haersma Buma is a Dutch politician serving as Mayor of Leeuwarden since 2019. Until 2019, he was a member of the House of Representatives from 2002 who also served as the parliamentary leader of the Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA) from 2010 and as the leader of his party from 2012.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Senate of Berlin</span> Government of Berlin

The Senate of Berlin is the executive body governing the city of Berlin, which at the same time is a state of Germany. According to the Constitution of Berlin the Senate consists of the Governing Mayor of Berlin and up to ten senators appointed by the governing mayor, two of whom are appointed (deputy) mayors. The Senate meets weekly at the Rotes Rathaus.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Tino Schwierzina</span> German politician (1927–2003)

Tino Antoni Schwierzina was a German lawyer and politician. Between May 1990 and January 1991 he served as the first and last freely elected mayor of East Berlin. His term of office was dominated by the fusion of the two halves of Berlin which had been politically divided since before 1949. By some criteria Tino Schwierzina was also the last mayor of East Berlin ahead of reunification.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Tim Renner</span> German music producer, journalist and author

Tim Renner is a German music producer, journalist and author. From 2001 to 2004, he was CEO and chairman of Universal Music GmbH in Germany. From 2014 till 2016 he was one of the secretaries of the city of Berlin for cultural affairs.


  1. Bishop, Joseph Torrey (1908). "The Burgermeister, Germany's Chief Municipal Magistrate". American Political Science Review. 2 (3): 396–410. doi:10.2307/1944809. hdl: 2027/hvd.hx3ee5 . ISSN   1537-5943. JSTOR   1944809. S2CID   143649993.
  2. "Curriculum Vitae Klaus Wowereit". Land Berlin, Der Regierende Bürgermeister, Senatskanzlei. Archived from the original on 30 March 2010. Retrieved 7 April 2010.
  3. cf. Article 56 sec. 2 of the "Constitution of the State of Berlin (part 4)". Land Berlin, Der Regierende Bürgermeister, Senatskanzlei. Archived from the original on 12 June 2011. Retrieved 7 April 2010.
  4. cf. Article 74 sec. 2 of the "Constitution of the State of Berlin (part 6)". Land Berlin, Der Regierende Bürgermeister, Senatskanzlei. Archived from the original on 12 June 2011. Retrieved 7 April 2010.
  5. Kochan, Iryna. "Іван Франко та іншомовні слова" [Ivan Franko and foreign-language words](PDF). Проблеми мовознаства: 294.
  6. Shaikouskaya, Anna. "Юліта Неплах-Сітніцка: Беларуская культура тут мае глыбокія карані" [Yulita Neplakh-Sitnitska: Belarusian culture here has deep roots]. Kamunikat (in Belarusian). Retrieved 26 July 2023.
  7. "Дырэктар беларускага ліцэю ў Бельску-Падляскім: "Цяжка адказаць, навошта вучню беларуская мова"" [Director of the Belarusian liceum in Bielsk Podlaski: "Hard to answer why one should learn Belarusian"]. Belsat (in Belarusian). 15 November 2021. Retrieved 26 July 2023.
  8. "Bùrméster". sloworz.org (in Polish). Retrieved 28 July 2023.
  9. A Dutch mayor does not vote in the municipal council.