- The Finnish term kunta (“municipality”) is used for both towns and cities, which constitute the main elements of local government in Finland. Municipalities that consider themselves sufficiently urban can call themselves kaupunki (“cities”), but this does not change their legal situation in any way. Every four years, the inhabitants of a municipality elect a kunnanvaltuusto (“municipal council”) as the legislative branch of the municipal government, which then appoints a kunnanhallitus ("municipal board") to manage the current affairs of the municipality, i.e. acts as the town government's executive branch. The council also appoints a number of municipal committees called lautakunta (“boards”). The committees have limited decision-making powers in their area of responsibility. The memberships in these bodies are trustee positions. The corresponding bodies in cities are kaupunginvaltuusto (“city council”) and kaupunginhallitus (“city board”).
- The members of municipal and city councils are called town council(l)ors and city council(l)ors respectively. The council members are usually grouped into valtuustoryhmä (“political groups”), which are normally formed along the national political party lines. If there are any councilmen who are independent of political parties, they tend to form an "independent" valtuustoryhmä. The members of other municipal bodies are called simply jäsenet (“members”) of that body.
- The council appoints a mayor to run the day-to-day business of the municipality, serving as its "general manager". The mayor may have the status of public official, in which case the office is called kunnanjohtaja or kaupunginjohtaja or it may be considered a political position, in which case it is called pormestari. One of the most visible manifestations of this difference is that a pormestari chairs the meetings of the city board whereas a kunnanjohtaja and a kaupunginjohtaja do not.