Who Is Granted the Right to Self- Government in Lithuania and who Implements This Right and how?

Algirdas Astrauskas

Abstract


There are many research papers on local self-government from 1990s till present in Lithuania. However, according to the author, there is a lack of research papers where the Lithuanian local self-government system would be analysed systematically. The author has published several articles in the academic journal Public Policy and Administration. In this article, the author, by way of creative analogy, presents his approach as to who is granted the right to (local) self-government and who enjoys this right (i.e., what is the subject of the right to (local) self-government) as well as explains who, in his opinion, enforces the right to (local) self-government and how.
Summarizing the results, the author presents the following conclusions:
1. Interpreting the first paragraph of Article 119 of the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania “The right to self-government shall be guaranteed to administrative units of the territory of the State, which are provided for by law. It shall be implemented through corresponding municipal councils”, the following questions remain unanswered: what subject is guaranteed (granted) the right to (local) self-government? Is a municipal council really the only local authority through which the right to (local) self-government is implemented?
2. The systematic analysis of provisions on guaranteeing (granting) and implementing the right to (local) self-government, established in the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania, rulings and decisions of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Lithuania, the Republic of Lithuania Law on Local Self-Government, and the European Charter of Local Self-Government, suggests that: (a) three subjects may be considered as the subjects of the right to (local) self-government in Lithuania; (b) the developers of the constitutional doctrine of (local) self-government chose the territorial (local) community as the subject of the right to (local) self-government by applying analogy (the Constitution stipulates that sovereignty belongs to the Nation); (c) by making the subject of the right to (local) self-government equal to the Nation State (sovereign that has the supreme power in the state), the developers of the doctrine applied the analogy in respect of the implementation of the right to (local) selfgovernment: they essentially saw the implementation of the right to (local) self-government and exercise of the supreme power in the municipality as the same, the latter being exercised through the representative municipal (self-government) institution.
3. It is stated that in Lithuania, which belongs to the countries with the continental legal system and where the theory of dual local self-government is followed for interpreting the origin of local municipalities and the nature and content of local self-government, the right to independently deal with local matters (or otherwise, right to (local) self-government in a wider sense) is guaranteed (granted) to the local municipality, an organised territorial social body that is composed of permanent residents in a territorial administrative unit established by law, that has the status of a public legal person and that has the competence established (defined) by the state.
4. Guaranteeing (granting) the right to self-government to the residents of the territorial administrative unit is a process lasting for a defined time rather than a single action of the state. During the process, major qualitative changes take place in the life of residents (to be accurate, in their communication and their governing) of the territorial administrative unit, and some decisions adopted and actions taken on the national level give shape to a territorial, organised social body (local municipality) that has a legal status and the competence defined by the state.
5. Creatively applying the analogy, it may be asserted that: a) the right to self-government (right to (local) self-government in a broader sense) belonging to a local municipality is the right of a territorial organised community (local municipality) and the real power to exist (act) as a legally independent, self-governing and autonomous social body; in this case, the subject of the right to (local) self-government (in a broader sense) is a local municipality, and (b) the right to self-government (right to (local) self-government in a narrower sense) belonging to a municipal community is the right of a municipal community as of a special local municipal structural element to directly or through a municipal council (representative body of a local municipality) exercise, in the ways prescribed, the supreme power in the local municipality when dealing with local (public) matters within the competence of the local municipality; in this case, the subject of the right to (local) self-government (in a narrower sense ) is a municipal community.

Keywords


self-government right; municipal community; municipality; local self-government; implementation of self-government right

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References


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.13165/VPA-14-13-4-10

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"Public Policy and Administration" ISSN online 2029-2872 / ISSN print 1648-2603