Local self-government is the responsibility of the towns and municipalities, the rural districts and the Regional Association of Saarbrücken. Since the reform of administrative districts in 1974, 52 independent municipalities have been formed in Saarland. There are also six local authority associations: the Saarbrücken regional association, which was formed from the Saarbrücken municipal authority in 2008 through legislation reforming local government, and the five rural districts of Merzig-Wadern, Saarlouis, Neunkirchen, Saarpfalz-Kreis and St. Wendel. The town and municipal executive bodies are the town/ unicipal councils in conjunction with the mayors. By contrast, the ritural districts have three executive bodies, district assemblies, district committees, and district chief executives.
Although it is also a local authority association and consequently comparable to the rural districts, the organisational structure of the Saarbrücken regional authority is different: the executive is the director of the regional authority. He/she is supported by the regional assembly (similar to the district assemblies in rural districts), the regional assembly committee (equivalent to the rural district committee), and the cooperative council, which was developed from the planning council of the former municipal authority and is where the municipalities belonging to the regional assembly are represented. The town/municipal councils, the district assemblies and the regional assembly have a decision-making and monitoring role, whereas the mayors, the district chief executives and the director of the regional authority are executive bodies. Finally, the cooperative council takes decisions concerning cooperation-related tasks within the regional authority's sphere of responsibility.