Mayor-council government
The mayor–council government system, sometimes called the mayor–commission government system, is one of the two most common forms of local government
Government refers to the legislators, administrators, and arbitrators in the administrative bureaucracy who control a state at a given time, and to the system of government by which they are organized...

 for municipalities. It is the one most frequently adopted in large cities, although the other form, council-manager government
Council-manager government
The council–manager government form is one of two predominant forms of municipal government in the United States; the other common form of local government is the mayor-council government form, which characteristically occurs in large cities...

, is the typical local government form of more municipalities.

Characterized by having a mayor who is elected by the voters, the mayor
In many countries, a Mayor is the highest ranking officer in the municipal government of a town or a large urban city....

City council
A city council or town council is the legislative body that governs a city, town, municipality or local government area.-Australia & NZ:Because of the differences in legislation between the States, the exact definition of a City Council varies...

 variant may be broken down into two main variations depending on the relationship between the legislative and executive branches, becoming a weak mayor or a strong mayor based upon the powers of the office. These forms are used principally in modern representative
Representative democracy
Representative democracy is a form of government founded on the principle of elected individuals representing the people, as opposed to autocracy and direct democracy...

 municipal governments in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, but also are used in some other countries.

Weak-mayor form

In a weak-mayor-council system, the council is both a legislaticy; they serve as ex officio members of boards; and they prepare the budget. With this, mayoral powers are "weak" because they lack effective executive power and restriction on the ability to appoint and remove officials, and lack veto powers.

Charles Adrian and Charles Press explain, "The weak-mayor plan is a product of Jacksonian democracy
Jacksonian democracy
Jacksonian democracy is the political movement toward greater democracy for the common man typified by American politician Andrew Jackson and his supporters. Jackson's policies followed the era of Jeffersonian democracy which dominated the previous political era. The Democratic-Republican Party of...

. It comes from the belief that if politicians have few powers and many checks, then they can do relatively little damage."

This elected, weak mayor form of government may be found in small towns in the United States that do not use the more popular council–manager form used in most municipalities that are not considered large or major cities.

In the Indian sub-continent, the British government introduced a weak-mayor system with a provincial government-appointed commissioner in the municipal corporations as the executive functionary who had the same power of a district officer vis-a-vis other local authorities.

Strong-mayor form

The strong-mayor form of mayor–council government usually consists of an executive branch
Executive (government)
Executive branch of Government is the part of government that has sole authority and responsibility for the daily administration of the state bureaucracy. The division of power into separate branches of government is central to the idea of the separation of powers.In many countries, the term...

, a mayor elected by voters, and a unicameral council as the legislative branch. .

In the strong-mayor form the elected mayor is given almost total administrative authority and a clear, wide range of political independence, with the power to appoint and dismiss department heads without council approval and little, or no public input. In this system, the strong-mayor prepares and administers the city budget, although that budget often must be approved by the council. Abuses in this form led to the development of the council–manager form of local government and its adoption widely throughout the United States.

In some strong-mayor governments, the mayor will appoint a chief administrative officer
Chief administrative officer
A chief administrative officer is responsible for administrative management of private, public or governmental corporations. The CAO is one of the highest ranking members of an organization, managing daily operations and usually reporting directly to the chief executive officer. In some companies,...

 who will supervise department heads, prepare the budget, and coordinate departments. This officer is sometimes called a city manager
City manager
A city manager is an official appointed as the administrative manager of a city, in a council-manager form of city government. Local officials serving in this position are sometimes referred to as the chief executive officer or chief administrative officer in some municipalities...

; while the term used in the equally popular council–manager government, the manager is responsible only to the mayor in this variant.

Most major and large American cities use the strong-mayor form of the mayor–council system, however, the middle size and small American cities use the council-manager system.

Pakistan after its devolution plan has had a variant of the strong-mayor system since 2001. In India, West Bengal has introduced a cabinet-type system of executive, called mayor/chairperson-in-council, in its local governments during 1980–1991, that resembles the strong-mayor system, except that the mayor may be removed through a vote of no-confidence by the elected council in the British model of government.
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