Aarhus City Council (Aarhus Byråd) is also the municipal government. The city council consists of 31 members elected for four-year terms. Administratively the municipality is divided into six minor agencies which together constitute the magistrate led by a mayor and five aldermen as administrative directors. It is the only Danish city with a magistrate structure. The six departments of the city are the Mayor's Department, Social Affairs and Employment, Technical Services and Environment, Health and Care, Culture and Citizens Services and Children and Young People which handle all the day-to-day operations of the city.
Politically Aarhus leans left and the largest political party has historically been the Social Democratic Party which has also held the mayor's office for all terms with the notable exception of the 2001–2005 term when Louise Gade of Venstre became both the first female and non-Social Democratic mayor. The gender composition of the city council has risen steadily in favour of women through the 20th century and currently 9 of 31 members are women.
The first publicly elected mayor of Aarhus was appointed in 1919. In the 1970 Danish Municipal Reform the current Aarhus municipality was created by merging 20 municipalities. Aarhus was the seat of Aarhus County until the 2007 Danish municipal reform, which substituted the Danish counties with five regions and replaced Aarhus County with Central Denmark Region (Region Midtjylland), seated in Viborg.
Statistics Denmark defines towns or cities as areas with more than 200 residents in a continuous settlement with no more than 200 meters between residential structures. In 2015 there were 19 such areas in Aarhus Municipality, the largest being the city of Aarhus with some 260,000 inhabitants, while some 50,000 people lived in urban areas elsewhere in the municipality. The city of Aarhus is the second largest urban area in Denmark, the principal port on the east coast of Jutland, and the seat of Denmark's second-largest bishopric. In 2013 Beder and Malling was officially counted as a single urban area for the first time. Towns in the municipality are generally considered satellites of Aarhus.