Territorial system of the state

From Encyklopedia Administracji Publicznej

TERRITORIAL SYSTEM OF THE STATE – an appropriate division of the state into territorial units that serve to perform public functions. In addition to the form of government and the political regime, it is a part of the form of the state. In terms of the territorial system, one can distinguish unitary states (u.s.) and federations (fed.). There are also confederations. The state’s unitariness means that none of the areas of the state is endowed with the attribute of sovereignty. Sovereign power is located in a uniform (unitary) state in one of the nationwide institutions. Constitutional superiority in the u.s. is located in the centre, and the existence of any system of local authority depends on the centre’s approval. The → devolution, at least in its legislative aspect, at its most allows for the decentralisation in the u.s., almost approaching the transformation into a fed. The vast majority of modern states have a unitary form. U.s. can take a more or less centralised form. There are very centralised states in which there is neither autonomy nor self-government. In the model of centralised state power, all power is concentrated in central state authorities who govern through their appointed plenipotentiaries (local administration as a regional representation of the central government). Nowadays, there are rare examples of the extremely implemented model of centralised authority. The territory of a federal state in terms of politics and administration is not a uniform whole: it consists of territories of fed. entities deprived of the right to participate fully in international relations and, as a rule, without the right to secede (these are, for example, länder – Germany, cantons – Switzerland, states – USA, India, Nigeria, Mexico). Fed. entities dispose of the constitutional and legislative authority, i.e. they have the right to adopt their own constitution and adopt, within the division of competences, laws in force on their own territory; in accordance with the principle of subordination, these acts should comply with the fed. legislation. Federal legislative bodies may also issue special legal acts for individual members of the fed. Components of the fed. may have their own legal and judicial system. The union (federal) parliament is bicameral: the interests of the fed. entities are represented by the second or higher chamber (e.g. the Senate in the USA or Bundesrat in Germany). There are two rules for representing a component (fed. entity): 1. the principle of equal representation, e.g. in the USA, two senators from each of the 50 states; 2. the principle of a diversified representation depending on the number of people, e.g. in Australia and Canada. In fed. there is a dual citizenship. Every citizen, in most countries (e.g. Germany, Austria, USA, Switzerland), is a citizen of the federation (fed.) and its relevant component (fed. entity). There is a division of competence between fed. and its components, and the systemic practice of various federal countries points to three kinds of solutions in this area: 1. dualistic federalism (USA, Mexico, Brazil), where the constitution of the federal state establishes the sphere of exclusive competence of the union by pointing out problems for which only the federal authorities may issue normative acts, all other issues not reserved by the constitution are the competence of the fed. entities (as the Tenth Amendment to the American constitution states: the powers not delegated to the federal authorities “are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people”); 2. the principle of exclusive competence of the union and the sphere of the so-called competitive competences (Austria, Germany); 3. a three-part system of differentiating competences (India), consisting in distinguishing exclusive competences of the union, exclusive competences of components of the union and common competences of federal authorities and authorities of the fed. entity. Thus, the essence of the fed. is the existence of two relatively autonomous levels of government: the fed. level and the level of fed. entities. The responsibilities and competences of each level of authority are defined in a codified or written constitution. Relations between the centre and the peripheries are therefore shaped by a formal legal framework. The autonomy of every level is usually guaranteed by the fact that none of them is able to unilaterally adopt amendments to the constitution (for example, amendments to the US Constitution require the support of 2/3 of both houses of Congress and 3/4 of 50 state legislatures). There is a constitutional arbitrator, because the constitutional provisions are interpreted by the Supreme Court, which is therefore an arbitrator in the situation of a dispute between the federal and state level (the fed. entity). The judicial power in the federal state, by designating areas of jurisdiction for each level, can determine the functioning of federalism in practice, inevitably engaging in the political process. Centralisation, which appeared in all fed. in the 20th century, was sanctioned every time by the courts. The main feature of fed. is the concept of the division of sovereignty. Each fed. however, is unique because relations between federal (national) authorities and state (regional, fed. entities) are determined not only by constitutional principles, but also by a number of political, historical, geographical, cultural and social factors. Some aspects that contribute to the creation of the fed. are: 1. historical reasons – fed. created through the unification of a number of existing political communities, which however wanted to preserve their separate identity and, to some extent, autonomy (the USA); 2. the existence of an external threat or a desire to play a more active role in international relations (Germany); 3. the size of the territory (e.g. Russia, Australia, Mexico, Brazil, many of the world’s large and populous countries are fed. except for the People’s Republic of China and Japan); 4. cultural and ethnic heterogeneity (e.g. Nigeria, India, Canada). A federation is a federal state, a confederation on the other hand is a union of the states. Federation and confederation are complex states. Fed. is currently the most common form of a complex state. Fed. are usually formed as a result of limiting the rights of member states in the confederation, incorporation of territories, a voluntary agreement between states, or the deconcentration of a unified state (e.g. Belgium). The confederation is a union of sovereign states that maintain their international personality, set up to implement specific intentions. In earlier times, personal unions were quite a widespread form of confederation. The real union, in turn, was a form close to fed. [J.G. Otto]

Literature: M. Bankowicz, J.W. Tkaczyński, Oblicza współczesnego państwa [Faces of the modern state], Toruń 2003 ■ A. Heywood, Politologia [Political science], Warszawa 2006 ■ Społeczeństwo i polityka. Podstawy nauk politycznych [Society and politics. The basics of political science], ed. K.A. Wojtaszczyk, W. Jakubowski, Warszawa 2007.