Sejmik


Sejmik

A sejmik (diminutive of the Polish word "sejm", meaning a type of parliament) was a regional assembly in the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, and earlier in the Kingdom of Poland. Sejmiks existed until the end of the Commonwealth in 1795 following the partitions of Poland. In modern Poland, since 1999, the term "sejmik" (in full "sejmik województwa") has been revived as the name for the elected council of each of the 16 voivodeships or regions (see voivodeship sejmik).

History

Sejmiks arose from the 1454 Nieszawa Statutes, granted to the nobility by King Casimir IV Jagiellon. These also led in 1493 to the national Sejm.

In the 16th century, the leading force at sejmiks was the middle nobility; later this passed to the magnates ("magnaci"). Lithuanian sejmiks (Lithuanian - seimelis, pl. seimeliai) in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania were dominated much more by the magnates than those which were subject to the Crown of Poland proper. Sejmiks attained the peak of their importance at the turn of the 17th and 18th centuries, when they often set their own time-limits — that is, extended their authorized periods of operation. Such abuses were suppressed by acts of the one-day Silent Sejm (Polish: "sejm niemy") of 1717.

Features

Sejmiks were usually held on a large, open field. There were three kinds of sejmik:

* General (Polish: "generalny", Latin "conventiones generales"), held in western Poland (Greater Poland, Polish: "Wielkopolska") at Koło, in southern Poland (Little Poland, Polish: "Małopolska") at Nowe Miasto Korczyn, in Masovia (Polish: "Mazowsze") at Warsaw, in Red Ruthenia at Sadowa Wisznia, and in Lithuania at Volkovysk. The General Sejmiks were composed of delegates elected at the provincial sejmiks. Their goal was to agree on a position for the Sejm Walny (General Sejm) and issue instructions for the deputies on how they were supposed to vote during the General Sejm.

* Provincial or Territorial (Polish: "ziemski", Latin "conventiones particulares, conventiones terrestrae") (in every voivodeship). Their importance was greatest in the 15th century, and diminished with the formation of the General Sejm. Since then they were relegated to dealing with local matters, and electing deputies to the General Sejms.

* County (powiat) (Polish: "powiatowy").

They could meet for special purposes:

* Pre-sejm (Polish: "przedsejmowe") sejmiks elected 1 to 6 deputies ("poslowie") (depending on the size and importance of the given sejmik's territory) to the "ordinary" General Sejm (Polish: "Sejm Walny") that was held every two years for six weeks, and to any "extraordinary" General Sejm that might be called at any time in an emergency, to sit for two weeks. Sometimes pre-sejm sejmiks were referred to as electoral. In some cases, a sejmik could be called for two voivodeships - in that case it could elect more than 6 deputies.

* Electoral (Polish: "elekcyjne") sejmiks elected higher voivodeship officials.

* Relational (Polish: "relacyjne") sejmiks heard the reports of deputies returned from the General Sejm, usually presenting the law ("konstytucje sejmowe") decreed by the Sejm.

* Deputational (Polish: "deputackie") sejmiks elected deputies ("deputaci") to tribunals (Crown Tribunal and Lithuanian Tribunal) from the times of King Stefan Batory onwards.

* Administrative (or economic, Polish: "gospodarcze") sejmiks oversaw voivodeship self-government.

Sejmiks were called by the king or the governor (voivode) of the province (voivodeship). The king, or his representative, decreed the important matters that the sejmiks should debate in a letter, called a royal legation (Polish "legacja królewska"). All the nobility ("szlachta") residing in a voivodeship were eligible to participate in sejmiks (and only the nobility from the given territory, this was confirmed by the nihil novi constitution); other estates sent only delegations in an advisory capacity. A sejmik could be disrupted with a liberum veto, which eventuality was guarded against by the formation (as at sejms) of a confederation, which compelled majority voting.

Each sejmik elected a sejmik marshal ("marszałek sejmiku": presiding officer of the sejmik, similar to the marshal of the sejm at national Sejms). This term has also been revived since 1999, but it now refers to the chairman of the voivodeship executive board rather than the presiding officer of the sejmik itself.

Deputies

See also

* The States
* Confederated sejm
* Liberum veto
* May Constitution of Poland (adopted 3 May 1791)
* Voivodeships of Poland


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