Deeply Rooted but Still Striving for a Role: The Portuguese Freguesias Under Reform

  • Antonio F. Tavares
  • Filipe Teles
Part of the Governance and Public Management book series (GPM)


This chapter aims to contribute to the debate about sub-municipal units (SMUs) in Europe by presenting and discussing the characteristics of Portuguese freguesias. These parishes stand out as a special case in the European landscape, since all municipalities have SMUs that have evolved to become full-fledged, lower-tier local government units. We argue that these SMUs are—de facto—a division of the municipal territory into small units of governance and of democratic representation, significantly under the discretionary authority of the municipality’s government. The chapter describes their historical evolution, legal framework, and organization, as well as competencies, services, and finances. A special attention is given to the recent territorial reform that reduced their number significantly. The analysis is—finally—focused on the future of SMUs in Portugal.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Antonio F. Tavares
    • 1
  • Filipe Teles
    • 2
  1. 1.Research Center in Political Science/School of Economics and ManagementUniversity of MinhoBragaPortugal
  2. 2.Department of Social, Political and Territorial Sciences University of AveiroAveiroPortugal

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