Creeping regionalization of the unitary state

Authored by: Paweł Swianiewicz

Routledge Handbook of Regionalism and Federalism

Print publication date:  May  2013
Online publication date:  July  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415566216
eBook ISBN: 9780203395974
Adobe ISBN: 9781136727627


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The history of Polish regions as territorial units goes back to the end of the 13th century, when Poland was being unified after a period of division. From the 16th to the 18th centuries the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was divided into large territorial units: 22 regions of the Polish Crown and 10 regions of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. This division was quite stable for over 200 years. The regional governor (wojewoda) was a member of the Senate (upper house of the Parliament) although he was nominated by the King, but the dignity of the office derived from the fact that the function was allocated to the members of powerful aristocratic families dominating in the given region. In the 17th and 18th centuries the central power of the King was weakening while the regions were becoming increasingly centrifugal forces, which eventually led to the disintegration of the state. This negative historical experience is still referred to in contemporary discussions on decentralization.

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