Local Bodies of State Authority

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Local Bodies of State Authority


in the socialist states, territorial representative bodies in charge of the management of economic, social, and cultural affairs and the protection of state and public order and of the rights of the citizens within corresponding administrative units.

The local bodies of state authority are called Soviets of working people’s deputies in the USSR; councils in Hungary; people’s councils in Bulgaria, Rumania, the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, and Albania; national councils in Poland; national committees in Czechoslovakia; assemblies and bodies of representation in the German Democratic Republic; national assemblies in the Korean People’s Democratic Republic; people’s skupštiny in Yugoslavia; and khuraly of people’s deputies in the Mongolian People’s Republic. Overall guidance of the development and activity of local authorities is exercised by higher bodies and in some socialist countries by the central governments as well.

The structure and activity of local authorities are based on the principles of socialist democracy; that is, the authorities are elected bodies that form, together with the higher authorities, part of a unified system of the country’s representative institutions. As a rule local authorities are elected directly by the population of their administrative territories. The elected representatives in the local bodies are accountable and responsible to the voters for their activity. These bodies are mass organizations of the working people, and a large number of volunteer activists participate in their work.

A cardinal characteristic of local authorities in the socialist countries, distinguishing them from local bodies of self-government (municipalities) in the bourgeois countries, is the wide range of their functions and competence. This range is an expression of the full power of the working people and the supremacy of representative institutions in the state mechanism of the socialist countries. The local bodies independently decide questions of local importance and participate in the implementation of state laws and general state measures; they have the right to discuss questions of general state importance and to submit recommendations. The competence of local authorities includes managing enterprises of local importance and communal, everyday, social, and cultural service organizations and institutions, maintaining public order, planning the local economy, and drawing up the local budget.

To carry out their tasks, the local authorities set up executive agencies of general competence (such as executive committees and presidiums) and agencies for individual branches of administration. The local bodies work by holding regular sessions, which decide the major questions concerning the development of a particular territory. The elected members of the local bodies participate in preparing questions for the sessions. They help in verifying and organizing the implementation of the adopted decisions, working through a system of permanent commissions; and they conduct work among the voters.

In view of the important role of local authorities in the mechanism of state administration and in the system of socialist democracy, the Communist parties of the socialist countries pursue a systematic policy of developing their functions, strengthening their material and financial base, promoting their independent initiative, and strengthening their ties with the population.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.