Usually translated to English as either "commune" or "municipality": the basic unit of administrative division in Poland since 1974. There are three types of gminas:
- Urban, usually consisting one town or city
- Mixed (urban-rular)
Presently, there are 2459 gminas in Poland.
Government of each gmine consist legislative branch (Gmina/Town council) and executive (headed by Mayor for cities/towns/urban/some urban-rural gminas and Wójt for rural gminas).
Of course, gminas are split on smaller units, such as borough in cities/towns and "sołectwo" in rular areas (boroughs are headed by their own Mayors, while "sołetcwo" is headed by "sołtys"). Officeholders on sub-gmina level are elected at the same time as others.Powiat
The second-level unit, an equivalent and translated as "county". Powiats were abolished from 1975 in favor of more numerous, smaller Voicodeships made up of gminas. Presently, there are 379 Powiats, a number including larger cities with the same administrative status as land powiats. The Capital City of Warsaw is a prime example of city-powiat.
Like gmina, Powiat is being governed by a legislature (Powiat Council or, in case of city-counties, a city council) and executive (headed by Starosta or, in case of city-counties, Mayor).Voivodeship
The highest-level administrative unit, our equivalent of province.
Voivodeship government is a confusing issue, since it's being ruled jointly by elected, local authorities, and Voivode, appointed by Prime Minister. The Voivode is his direct representative, in charge of managing central government institutions at regional level (such as the police and fire services, passport offices, and various inspectorates).
Locally elected authorities consists legislative (Sejmik) and executive, headed by Marshall, which is the closest equivalent to Governor.
Since 1999, there are 16 Voivodeships (as opposed to 49 before).Executive elections
Before 2002, all Mayors and Wójts were elected indirectly, by their respective councils. Executives above county level (Starosta, Marshall) continues to be selected by the councils.