The commune is the smallest political unit in Switzerland. There were 2,760 in 2005 but their number is shrinking because some are merging. Some communes have autonomy concerning taxes and planning, for example, but the scope of their autonomy varies depending on the canton in which they are located. Around one-fifth have their own parliament; in the other four-fifths, decisions are taken by a process of direct democracy in a local assembly. Swiss nationality is first obtained by becoming a citizen of a canton. This place of origin is handed down from generation to generation and is independent of a person's commune of residence.
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