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Voivodships

In Poland a there’s a three tier division in public administration, divided as follows: voivodships – regions (16), powiats – districts (379) and gminas – local authorities (2,478).

The national administration is divided into government administration and self governing bodies. The government administration is the gathering of the administrative organs directed by the council of ministers. The self governing administration is that bureaucracy organised either locally or regionally.

Gminas (local authorities)

The gmina is the basic legal entity and administrative body in Poland, which carries out public tasks for itself and is responsible itself. To the gmina’s sphere of responsibilities belong all the public matters of a local significance. A gmina’s executive organs are the gmina council and the “wójt” (the mayor or town president). There are 2,478 gminas present in Poland.

A mayor fulfils the executive role in a town’s gmina, in which the seat of power is to be found in a town located within the gmina. The mayor stands at the head of a gmina council. A “wójt” fulfils the executive role in a rural gmina, standing at the head of the gmina council. 

Powiats (districts)

The powiat is a district self governing authority located within its own territory, which has a legal standing and is the basic entity for territorial divisions. According to the law, powiats are allocated to towns with populations in excess of 100,000 residents, together with the towns that have ceased being capitals in the reformed voivodships. A powiat embraces the whole area bordering with a gmina (a land powiat), or an urban area (town with powiat laws). A powiat’s executive organs are the council and powiat management board. Currently in Poland there are 379 powiats, including 314 rural powiats and 65 towns with powiat rights.

A “starosta” fulfils the most important role in the powiat and is elected to the office by the powiat’s council. He’s the leader of the powiat management board, he directs its tasks and represents the powiat externally. The “starosta” fulfils the role of the administrative first contact and who takes decisions in individual matters in the field of local public administration.
The town’s president fulfils the executive role in towns of above 100,000 residents and also is at the head of the powiat management board.

Voivodships (regions)

The voivodship is a body of government administration. It’s the largest territorial division of administration in the country. On the basis of an act of July 1998, a basic three tier division of administration was established and 16 new voivodships were set up. The voivodship’s have a legal status. At the head of a voivodship there is a voivoda. The voivoda is a representative of the Council of Ministers in a voivodship, in charge of joint government administration and also fulfils the role of the overseeing officer for the territorial self governing bodies.

The voivodship Marshall fulfils the role of the most important figure representing the voivodship. This person is elected by a majority vote of the voivodship’s “parliament”. As the board president he organisers the tasks and directs the ongoing matters of the voivodship, representing it externally. The director of the Marshall’s office is superior to the office’s staff and the director of the self governing bodies in the voivodship. The Marshall’s Office is a self governing organisation in the voivodship and is a body assisting the execution of tasks designated by the Marshall, the board and the voivodship’s elected members.

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