Samorząd zawodowy i gospodarczy w Polsce po 1989 roku
Professional and economic self-governing bodies in Poland after 1989
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One of the greatest achievements of the socio-political transformation process in Poland is the profound decentralization of public governance. In administrative law, decentralization is perceived as a system with a larger number of independent hubs, vested with competences in terms of public law, and a single center. Therefore, decentralization is a process of delegating certain public functions which formerly were reserved for the central government to groups of citizens organized in corporations. Although local government exemplifies decentralization it is not a one-dimensional no- tion that refers exclusively to territorial relations. In the system of representation specialized self-government bodies, formed with different criteria, play a highly significant role represen- ting the interests of various groups. They are divided into self-governing bodies focused on the economy and the professions. Formal and legal homogeneity, though, does not translate into the appropriate political position of these two forms of self-governing bodies in Poland. While the professional self-governing body is clearly an association governed by public law, the so-called economic self-governing body is based on concepts that emphasize the volunta- ry nature of the ties between entrepreneurs, associated in chambers of commerce. The differences in their legal status and the resulting powers bear no influence on the fact that both economic and professional self-governing bodies are now facing equally serious threats in Poland. In both cases these are related to how the state approaches the extra-territo- rial form of decentralization. We can speak of different motivations here. The state, or rather the state administration, is excessively interested in the professional self-governing bodies and is curbing the autonomy they have traditionally been vested with. The situation is quite different with respect to the economic self-governing bodies, where the public authorities are scarcely interested in becoming involved in supporting them. It should be realized then, that the success of Polish decentralization reform will only be complete when all forms of self-government develop harmoniously irrespective of the rela- tions between their members, whose empowerment will serve democracy and strengthen civic society.
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