1989 volume 7(4) pages 423 – 444
doi:10.1068/c070423

Cite as:
Regulski J, 1989, "Polish local government in transition" Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy 7(4) 423 – 444

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Polish local government in transition

J Regulski

Received 30 November 1988; in revised form 21 April 1989

Abstract. Poland is undergoing important political changes. The evolution of legal, political, and financial resources of local government since 1950 is discussed in this paper. In the last section are presented the Solidarity programme and governmental response at the historic 'Round Table' talks between the ruling Communist Party and the Polish opposition, which opened the way to the opposition's magnificent victory in the parliamentary elections in June 1989. In 1950 a very centralized organization of the state was imposed. But the postwar history shows expansions and limitations of local government power. These shifts and their causation are analyzed. The poor quality of the urban fabric, the need of social support for the ruling party, and important economic tasks of local government call for decentralization. Its implementation requires overcoming the barriers, which result from resistance by political and bureaucratic structures, bad economic situation, and lack of public interest in local democracy. Recently a decentralization policy is being implemented. Many legal openings have been made, but the political organization is still very centralized. It is argued that a deconcentration of tasks and means cannot be effective without changes in political structures. Therefore Solidarity asks for full self-government at the communal level, but the ruling Party has strong reservations against this.

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