Evolution of Lithuaniain local self-government system from 1990 till nowadays

Algirdas Astrauskas


1. Lithuania is a country that has deep roots of local self–government. This forms the historical heritage of Lithuanian local self-government. This heritage lies in the nation’s memory and continues to influence the local-governmental awareness of Lithuanian people and public policy makers. This heritage has been having an impact on the development of the local self-governmental system in Lithuania since 1990.
2. The period from 1990 to this day is an interesting, meaningful and significant period for the evolution of local self-government in Lithuania. During this period, after 50 years of being only a supplement to the central state government and an obedient executor of the
state policy shaped by it, the local governmental system, varied with sham local democracy elements, has been transformed into a modern, Western–type democratic local self– governmental system.
3. The events that have taken place during this period and the nature of these events provide reasonable grounds to divide the period from 1990 to the present day into three stages with regards to the evolution of local self–government : a) 1990–1995, b) 1995–2000
and c) since 2000.
4. The first stage (1990–1995) was difficult, complex and contradictory. During the first stage the evolution process of the local self-governmental system took place in two directions: 1) abrogating the old (Soviet, socialist) local governmental system and creating a new (democratic, Western-type) local self-governmental system in compliance with the provisions of the Law on the Fundamentals on Local Government adopted on the 12th of February 1990 and 2) learning from the past mistakes; analysing the experience accumulated by other countries; searching and selecting a local self–government organization model which would be most suitable for Lithuania as well as of the country (a group of countries) the best practice of which could be used in a creative manner.
5. During the first stage (1990–1995) for some reasons, the development of a new (democratic, Western-type) local self-governmental system in Lithuania was not consistent and as successful as it sought to. Lithuania was “gradually” returning to the former times of
the centralized management. Fortunately, the return to the former times was stopped by the Constitution of the Republic of Lithuania which was adopted by the people’s referendum of 25 October 1992 and entered into force on 6 November 1992.
6. Although during the first stage (1990–1995) various local self-government theories, local self-government organization models and best practices of other countries in that area were consistently examined, it was decided that at that stage it was most relevant to focus on
the British model of organization of local self–government based on the state theory of local government and to adapt many of its elements.
7. The second stage of the evolution of the Lithuanian local self-governmental system (1995–2000) – was the period when Lithuania completely established a modern, Western-type democratic local self-governmental system and when it was decided to change the reference points of the Lithuanian local self-governmental system (the theory of local self-government, a local self-government organization model, the country (a group of countries) the best practice of which would be used. During the second stage a lot of interesting events (changes) took place. However, during the second stage of the Lithuanian local self–governmental
system development not every action was as successful as expected.
8. The third local self-government development stage in Lithuania began at the end of 2000, when a revised version of the Law on Local Self-Government came into force, mand continues to this day. In this third stage, although a lot has been achieved in the field of local self-government, but there are quite a few problems. This is also indicated by Recommendation No 321 for Lithuania adopted by the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe, which identified the main problem areas and indicated possible ways to address them.


local municipality, local self-government in Lithuania

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.13165/VPA-15-14-4-09

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