fvom the late 19th century onwards the local landowner stratum came to dominate both the Church and local government in the village; close overlap between the social elite, village officials and Church representatives developed. Until 1945, the means for the peasantry - in practice the landowner stratum - to participate in public affairs was through the local government. Although villages enjoyed a degree of autonomy, the scope of village administration was increasingly limited from the 1900s onwards. In form and function, however, local administration was an important and integral part of village life.