Regional and Local Government
The territory of Poland is administered through a system of forty-nine districts established in 1975 to replace the previous system of twenty-two districts. In addition, three city councils- -Warsaw, Lodz, and Kraków--enjoy special administrative status. Each district is managed by a government-appointed wojewoda (typically a professional administrator) and a district assembly whose members are chosen by the popularly elected local government units, the community (gmina; pl., gminy) councils. Both the district and community levels of government enjoy far greater autonomy than they did under the highly centralized communist system of administration.
According to the amended constitution in use in mid-1992, local self-rule is the basic organizational form of public life in the community. The community possesses legal status and acts on behalf of the public interest in accordance with the law. The residents of the community directly elect a standing council of their peers to a four-year term by universal secret ballot. A community or town of fewer than 40,000 residents elects council members in single-seat districts on a simple majority basis. Cities with more than 40,000 people use multiseat districts, and seats are allocated on a proportional basis. The executive organ of the community is the municipal government (zarz d), which consists of a "chief officer" (wojt; pl., wojtowie) or mayor, his or her deputies, and other members. Communities may form intercommunity unions to coordinate projects of mutual interest.
Community councils in a given district elect delegates from their membership to a self-governing regional council (sejmik samorzadowy), which approves formation of intercommunity unions and works closely with district authorities through mandatory reports moving in both directions. The prime minister and district authorities monitor community activity, but they may interfere only in instances of obvious incompetence or violation of law.
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