COMMUNE, the smallest administrative division of France, corresponding in its main features to the municipal borough of England. Communes constitute legal corporations of elaborate organization, capable of holding property, contracting debts, and appearing as persons in court. The chief magistrate of a commune is the moire, who is assisted by one or more adjoints, and a deliberative assembly, called the conseil municipal, or municipal council, As an agent of the national Government, he is charged with the local promulgation and execution of the general laws and decrees of the country ; and as a member of the municipality he has to attend to the police, the revenue, and the public works of the commune, and, in general, to act as representative of the corporation. In communes that either rank as the administrative centres of a department, arrondissement, or canton, or have a population of more than 3000, the moire is nominated by the central Government ; in those which are not thus distinguished, the appointment lies with the prefect of the department. Suspension from office may be inflicted by the prefect ; but deposition can only proceed from the Government. An adjoint may be intrusted by the moire with the discharge of any of his functions ; and as the maire's representative he may preside over the conseil municipal even if he be not otherwise a member of the body. The councillors are elected by the votes of the communal electors ; and like the moire and time adjoints, they hold office for a term of five years. The decisions of the council in regard to the local budget and various other matters are subject to revision and amendment by the prefect of the department.
See Leber, Hist. critique die pouvoir municipal, 1828; Reynouard, Hist. du droit municipal, 1829; Dupin, Hist. de l administration locale, 1829; Champagnac, Du passe, du present, ct de l'avenir de l'organ. manic. en France, 1843 ; Gorges, Organisation de la commune en France, 1848.