Territorial self-government as a pillar of the democratic state – reflections on the idea of local self-government in the light of the self-governing traditions of the Second Republic of Poland
Territorial self-government has been widely analyzed in Polish literature of the interwar period. At that time, its three theories were formulated: naturalistic, state and political. The first one contrasted the self-government with the state, stressing that municipality is historically older than the latter and, as a result, independent; it is the state that derives its powers from the municipality, and not conversely. The second theory advanced a thesis that state power is exercised by state authorities, including through local communities with a separate legal status. Self-governance was thus to be expressed in the idea of decentralizing public authority. Although it identified self-government with state administration, the third theory demanded that self-governmental powers be exercised by independent officials, regarding their independence as a guarantee of effective exercise of the powers attributed to self-government. Investigations made at that time into the essence, nature, and form of self-government remained valid until the present day, determining democratic values as the basis for territorial self-government’s status in the current Constitution of Poland.