With this prior push, the councilors Miguel Ángel Gallardo and José Luis Quintana hope to get the Council of Ministers to approve, “if possible”, holding a referendum for the first quarter of 2022 . For the merger to succeed, at least 66% of the inhabitants of the two towns must be in favor of the union.
Although it is not the only association that has occurred in recent years -two Galician municipalities, Oza-Cesuras and Cerdedo-Cotobade, were born in 2013 and 2017 respectively-, it is the first of the century to bring together large towns : their union will unseat Mérida as the third largest city in Extremadura, with more than 63,000 inhabitants.
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The few kilometers that separate both towns are almost urbanized, so the physical border will not be an obstacle for a merger supported by a study by the University of Extremadura.
It is expected that more investments will reach the area, more aid for large cities and that it will be established as a point of job creation.
With this precedent, will there be more associations of this magnitude in the future? Why have so few been produced in recent years? What is the panorama at the European level?
In our country there are 8,131 municipalities, according to the latest data from the National Institute of Statistics INE 84% of them have fewer than 5,000 inhabitants and almost one in two – 49% – have fewer than 500 residents.
Joaquín Recaño, a professor at the Autonomous University of Barcelona, believes that these figures are worrying: “Many of [these municipalities] do not have any kind of rationality in which [they] are,” he declares.
The researcher, a member of the Center for Demographic Studies of the Department of Geography of the UAB, assures that the issue of mergers is a “melon” that nobody wants to open .
“To organize the territory, it would be much better if municipalities were added together and managed, on the other hand, the issue of services,” he sums up.
As a mechanism to reduce the number of municipalities , in 2013 the Government of Mariano Rajoy promoted Law 27/2013 of Rationalization and Sustainability of the Local Administration or LRSAL , which gave free rein to mergers in exchange for increases in the financing of the localities and grant preferences. But these advantages do not seem to have been enough to encourage these unions in our country.
The following graph shows the size of the municipalities by communities according to the data from the census as of January 1, 2020. Castilla y León is the region with the most smaller towns , followed at a long distance by Castilla-La Mancha and Catalonia.