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The author examines the role of the municipality in the Swiss constitutional order and describes its main characteristics as an expression of democracy and a producer of services which contributes to the development of the canton. Both these aims are often unful-filled: the extremely small demographic size of the average Swiss municipality does not permit a rational level of finances and services or effective democratic participation. As a result, some municipalities have formed conventions and consortia, although these have been strongly opposed. The author analyses the reasons for this opposition and also the legal bases and procedures for mergers. The events surrounding the merger of the municipalities in the Capriasca Valley in Canton Ticino are emblematic of the dynamics of the process. The project drawn up in 1998 envisaged a reduction of the number of municipalities from 245 to 86, but the advantages of merging the Capriasca municipalities had already been emphasised three years previously. However, the process encountered numerous obstacles, beginning with the rejection of the plan expressed by the two municipalities in a referendum, which led to the first modern example of a partly coerced merger. The tendency towards mergers is by now general, and it is a necessary condition for numerous municipalities to overcome their financial difficulties in the solidarist perspective of the federal framework, thereby regaining their active role in local reality.