Local government reform

From Encyklopedia Administracji Publicznej

LOCAL GOVERNMENT REFORM (in Poland) – implemented after 1989 in two stages – systemic transformations concerning the system of bodies of authority and territorial division of the state. The first stage was done in 1990 – the restoration of local government at the municipal level; the second stage of 1998 – the expansion of local government through the creation of the county self-government and the voivodship self-government. The local government reform of 1990 consisted in changing the character of the municipal system. There was a fundamental change at that time, though not always perceived by citizens. For the local government to exist, the local community must be able to and also know how and be willing to manage its own affairs (→ local community). And that means that a system is need that gives the right options, but there must also be a conscious civic community that wants to participate in public life and is able to make the right decisions together. The development of local government institutions and the introduction of new units of this local government meant a very significant change in the structure of public authority in the state. After this change, a significant strengthening of the state’s capacity for efficient functioning was expected. Also, far-reaching practical consequences were expected, which allowed to complete the cycle of political transformations in accordance with constitutional norms and modern tendencies in the organisation of the state apparatus. The term “local government reform” is not very precise, because it is not the local government that is the subject of the reform, but the state is reformed with the help of local government. The disadvantages of this term can easily be noticed, considering the realities – the introduction of the county self-government and the voivodship self-government cannot be considered as reforming this self-government, because it did not exist before 1st January 1999. The term “local government reform” also cannot refer to basic local-government units (municipalities), because their system has not changed since the reactivation of municipal self-government in Poland. L.g.r. was very strongly associated with the expectations of increase in the efficiency of the state apparatus in the effective undertaking of restructuring and modernization projects. It was and is treated as a necessary condition for the preparation of state institutions to initiate reforms of specific areas of public authorities’ activity – schooling and education, transport and public roads, health care, social care, popularization and development of cultural heritage, environmental protection, modernization of rural areas, prevention of unemployment, professional activation. The objectives of the local government reform were: to create an efficient, competent public administration that acts economically, whose local-governmental part would take over the responsibility for the vast majority of public services performed in whole or in part, free of charge, and the governmental part will limit its state administration functions to responsibilities of governance in the state which will greatly strengthen its ability to take up challenges in matters strategically important for the whole country; the use of territorial decentralization (i.e. decentralization resulting from the development of local government institutions) to transform the state into a system organised in accordance with the → principle of subsidiarity; transparency of public administration activities by providing citizens with broad access to information on the activities of both parts of the administration; strengthening civil public finance control through public finance law reform functionally linked to the decentralization of public authority and to create as a result of decentralization a more cost-effective and more efficiently functioning system of public finances; creation of voivodship self-government as strong subjects of regional development policy, entitled to formulate and implement their own priorities of this policy (→ decentralisation; local government) [ B. Marczewska ].

Literature: B. Dolnicki, Samorząd terytorialny [Local government], Warszawa 2012 ■ H. Izdebski, Samorząd terytorialny. Podstawy ustroju i działalności [Local government. The fundamentals of the system and activity], Warszawa 2014.