Wójt is a Polish senior civil administrative officer and the highest representative of the government of a rural gmina, i.e., of a commune (gmina) comprising only villages. (Heads of towns and cities are called "burgomaster" (Polish: burmistrz) or "president".)

History and etymologyEdit

 
Trial before the wójt by Józef Chełmoński (1873), National Museum in Warsaw

The word wójt is derived from Latin advocatus via Geman 'Vogt'.[1]

In medieval Poland, a wójt (advocatus in documents written in Latin) was a hereditary (later elected) head of a town (under the overlordship of the town's owner – the king, church, or noble) or other area of settlement, which was established on or transferred to the Magdeburg rights, as well as the head of the local court. It this respect, a wójt was the head of the territory called "wójtship [pl]" (Polish: wójtostwo; Lithuanian: vajtija, vaitystė; Latin: advocatia). In private towns wójts were appointed by the owner or elected by the community.

From this title quite a few surnames were derived: Wójtowicz/Voytovych, Starovoit, Starovoytov, Voytenko, Voitiuk, Voytov, etc. (not to be confused with those derived from "Wojtek", a dimuinutive of "Wojciech").

Wójt in modern timesEdit

In modern Poland the elected position of wójt of a rural gmina [pl] (in an urban gmina [pl] the equivalent positions are burmistrz and town president [pl]) is an element of the local government of the lowest level, and it is defined by the Polish law about gmina self-government. [2]

The position of wójt is not the same as the position of the chairman of the gmina council (przewodniczący rady gminy). Wójt is the executive function of gmina (the title for the executive position is "burmistrz" if the administration is located in a gmina town and "town president" in towns with population over 100,000) (Article 26). These positions (and of their deputies) can he held only by Polish citizens and cannot be shared with the same position in another gmina ans with a number of other administrative positions. [2]

Relations of wójt and gmina councilEdit

The gmina council (rada gminy) controls the activities of wójt, determines the renumeration of wójt, directions of his activities, accepts his report on his activities, handles complaints about wójt, and may consider termination of wójt's tenure. A wójt suggests the candidate for the position of gmina treasurer, for rada to accept. [2]

Wójt performs major actions (major purchases, credits, handling rada bonds, etc.) related to the community property according to the principles set by rada. [2]

Wójt has rights to call for a session of rada.[2]

Wójt or his representative has an obligation to reasonably promptly address questions and requests formally submitted by rada members.[2]

Wójt cannot assign any contractual work to a rada member of his gmina.[2]

Anti-corruption regulationEdit

Neither wójt nor wójt's deputies nor persons cohabiting with wójt or wojt's deputies (the same as for other rada administration) can be part of management or own over 10% of shares of commercial businesses based in the gmina and have to submit declarations of their property. These declarations are public, with the exception of some specifics (addresses, etc.) They cannot accept any property gifts (including acquiring undervalued property) for 3 years after the termination of their functions. [2]

ActivitiesEdit

Major categories of wójt's activities include:[2]

  • preparing draft resolutions of the gmina council and of development programs
  • suggesting the ways of implementation of council resolutions
  • management of gmina property and budget
  • hiring and dismissing heads of gmina organizational units

Wójt manages running affairs of the gmina and represents the gmina on the outside and performs these duties with the help of the gmina office (urząd gminy), which wójt heads. It these affairs wójt reports exclusively to the gmina council.[2]

Wójt has to inform the residents of gmina on draft budget and its uses and social and economic policiew of gmina (Article 61).[2]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit