Konstytucyjne podstawy partycypacji społecznej i formy jej realizacji w samorządzie terytorialnym
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THE CONSTITUTIONAL GROUNDS FOR PUBLIC PARTICIPATION AND FORMS OF ITS IMPLEMENTATION IN LOCAL GOVERNANCE
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The article provides a review of constitutional grounds and forms of local democracy in Poland. The author points out the impact of the constitutional principles upon the shape of legislation concerning public participation in local decision-making. The most important role in this field is played by the principle of democratic state ruled by law (Article 2), the principle of supreme power of the nation and of representation (Article 4), the principle of subsidiarity (preamble of the Constitution, in conjunction with Article 16), the principle of decentralization of public power (Article 15), the principle of local governance (Article 16) and the principle of unitary state (Article 3). The author gives particular importance to the principle of participatory local governance (Article 16 para. 2 of the Constitution). He also claims that one could (and should) argue that local government participation in the exercise of public power is a precondition for the fulfilment of the democratic nature of the state. You only need to look at the constitutional provisions as a mechanism for the functioning of local democracy. The mechanism by which the residents of communes, counties and provinces have an equal right to participate in the management of public affairs, both through the election of local self-government bodies, and through direct decision-making (public participation). In the author’s view, this however requires a departure from the perception of local governance just as the effect of the administration building on the principle of decentralisation. In that area the author pointed out significant shortcomings that can be found on the basis of ordinary legislation (local enactments) and statutes of local government entities. It is particularly disappointing that the parliament, which is responsible for specification of constitutional norms, confines itself only to defining local governance as local democracy. But as concerns the activity of local government "lawmakers”, it is possible to discern a trend which can be described as "sceptical caution”. Local authorities are sensitive about the scope of their powers and, therefore, they are not willing to share them with citizens. According to the author, this negative trend can only be changed by the activity of the parliament (the Sejm and Senate) by way of "top-down” amendments of local enactments.
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