Third Republic

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As of December 29, 1989[a].

Flag of Poland

The emblem of Poland

Anthem: Dabrowski’s Mazurka


Constitution of the Polish People’s Republic (1990-1997)Small Constitution (1992-1997)Constitution of the Republic of Poland (since 1997)

Official language




Political system

republic (parliamentary democracy)

Type of state

unitary state

Head of state

President of the Republic of Poland Andrzej Duda

Speaker of the SejmMarshal of the Senate

Elżbieta WitekTomasz Grodzki

Head of government

Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki

Deputy Prime Ministers

Piotr GlińskiJacek SasinHenryk KowalczykMariusz Błaszczak

Area – total

312,679[c][3][4] km²

Population (2014) – total – population density – nations and ethnic groups

38,483,957[5]123 persons/km²Polish: 97.1%[d]Silesians[e]: 2,2%[d]

GDP (2014) – total – per capita

552.2 billion[6] USD14,329[6] USD

GDP (PPS) (2014) – total – per capita

941.4 billion[6] international dollars24,428[6] international dollars.


Zloty (zloty, PLN)

Dominant religion

Roman Catholicism

Time zone

UTC +1 – winterUTC +2 – summer

ISO 3166 code


Internet domain


Car code


Aircraft code

SN and SP

Phone code


Multimedia in Wikimedia Commons

News in Wikinews

Quotations in Wikicitats

Wikislator entry

Third Republic (III RP) – used in the Constitution of the Republic of Poland (1997)[7] to refer to the Polish state after the fundamental political changes that have taken place since 1989. The basic constitutional name of the state is the Republic of Poland.

The meaning of this term is a break with the system of the Polish People’s Republic (so-called people’s democracy) and a direct reference to the traditions of the First and Second Republics. The symbol of the Third Republic is, among other things, the crowned eagle restored in the Polish emblem after the People’s Republic, modeled on the pre-war one.

Table of contents

1 History and politics

1.1 The establishment of the Third Republic

1.2 The years 1990-1997: The continuation of systemic transformation

1.2.1 Hyperinflation 1.2.2 Economic reform

1.3 Years 1997-2004: Poland before accession to the European Union 1.4 Years 2004-2015: Poland’s first years in the European Union 1.5 From 2015: Poland under the rule of the United Right

2 Economy

2.1 The economy in 1989. 2.2 The Balcerowicz Plan 2.3 The economy in 1991-2004 2.4 Poland’s economy in the EU

2.5 Ownership transformation

2.5.1 Privatization 2.5.2 Reprivatization

3 Education 4 Military 5 State-church relations 6 Notes 7 Footnotes 8 Bibliography

History and politics[edit | edit code].

Rise of the Third Republic[edit | edit code].

Separate article: Systemic transformation in Poland.

Poland’s steadily deteriorating economic situation, combined with the lack of prospects for real improvement, led to a deepening crisis. The government, pinned to the wall after a failed attempt to strengthen its position through a 1987 referendum, was forced to raise prices by 40 percent. This sparked immediate protests, quickly sweeping across the country. On April 25, 1988, protests erupted in Bydgoszcz, quickly spread to Gdansk and Nowa Huta, as well as many other cities. The wave of strikes gave new breath to Solidarity, which had been stuck in a stalemate since its delegalization, now its leaders were at the forefront of the protests. The brutal suppression of the Nowa Huta strike and the brief arrest of Solidarity leaders did not change this. The strike lasted until the end of May and forced the authorities to enter talks. Gorbachev’s visit in July, encouraging the authorities to legalize Solidarity and enter into talks, as well as the subsequent August wave of strikes, which ended with an unsuccessful demonstration of the force of the ZOMO and the Militia, removed any illusions from party leaders that it was possible to calm the situation without making a deal with Solidarity leaders.

After talks with Interior Minister Czeslaw Kiszczak, Lech Walesa, at the price of legalizing Solidarity, decided to end the strikes. This decision was met with resistance from both the protesters and the Inter-Union Solidarity Committee and the National Executive Commission of Solidarity.

It is usually assumed that the vote by the so-called “Contract Sejm” to restore the name of the Polish state, the Republic of Poland,[8] and the emblem in the form of the crowned eagle, which has been in effect since December 29, 1989, marked the symbolic beginning of the so-called Third Republic.

According to other opinions, various facts are taken as the beginning of the Third Republic:

June 4, 1989 elections[9]; the appointment of Tadeusz Mazowiecki’s government; the handover of the presidential insignia of the Second Republic by the President in Exile, Ryszard Kaczorowski, to President Lech Walesa, who was sworn in on the same day, elected in free presidential elections; and the beginning of the first-term Sejm (November 25, 1991), elected in the first fully free elections after the war, when the continuity of the undemocratic structures of the People’s Republic was thus broken.

The Polish Constitution of April 1997 included the name Third Republic in its preamble[7].

In April 1998, the Senate passed a resolution on legal continuity between the Second and Third Polish Republics[10].

Years 1990-1997: Continuation of systemic transformation[edit | edit code].

In 1990, the Civic Militia and the Security Service ended their activities, replaced by the Police and the Office of State Protection, respectively (existing officers were allowed to start working in the new services provided they passed a verification procedure)[11]. In the same year, local self-government (at the commune level) was restored in Poland – the first local elections were held on May 27, 1990[12].

The first fully equal, free, universal, secret presidential elections in Poland took place in November 1990. Until then, Poland’s presidents had been elected by the National Assembly. In 1990, there was still no final decision on whether Poland’s future political system would be based on a parliamentary-cabinet system or a presidential system.

Separate article: Presidential elections in Poland in 1990.

The election campaign was turbulent, recent friends from Solidarity were quite hostile to each other during the election. In addition, there was public dissatisfaction with the effects of the changes that had taken place in the economy. In 1990, the Balcerowicz Plan came into force, under which a number of anti-inflationary measures were taken and the process of changing the ownership structure in the economy began. The Balcerowicz Plan was mainly aimed at leveling hyperinflation and marketizing the economy on the model of Western countries.

Hyperinflation[edit | edit code].

Hyperinflation was the main problem: “Inflation was like an expanding fire that had to be extinguished, or at least suppressed, in order to be able to carry out a change in the economic system,” – L. Balcerowicz commented. So the situation was serious, according to the broad opinion of experts from the IMF and the World Bank, the scale of hyperinflation could not be curbed by the method of gradually reducing the rate of growth, as in Hungary, because the scale of inflation in Poland was too large – in Hungary we saw an annual price increase of several tens of percent, while in Poland this result was achieved within a month. To this end, as of Jan. 1, 1990, the government introduced progressive taxation of above-normal wage increases in state-owned enterprises. Interest rates on credit were raised to the expected rate of inflation, and subsidies from the NBP were reduced. Above all, a fixed exchange rate was established for the zloty, which was equivalent to 9.5k. per dollar. Unnecessary employment in state enterprises was reduced, also coal and fuel subsidies were cut.

The methods adopted temporarily led to economic destabilization – an increase in unemployment (at the end of 1990, 1 million unemployed[13]), a decrease in supply (industrial production sold decreased by 23% in 1990[14]), an increase in prices, a decrease in real wages and many other negative effects called by L. Balcerowicz “controlled shock.” Despite all the inconveniences, Balcerowicz’s methods worked: in January 1990, prices were still rising by 76%, but already in February by 24%, and in March by 6%[15].

Economic reform[edit | edit code].

After inflation was brought under control, Tadeusz Mazowiecki’s government took a number of steps toward transforming the economy into a market economy. The state still controlled a very large sector of the economy and owned a sizable portion of businesses. To this end, privatization of state-owned enterprises was launched, the system of central control was abolished, the tax system was reformed, and the securities market was organized – limiting the power of the state at the expense of individual entities or local governments. The recession hit industry and transport the hardest, and did not occur in agriculture and construction services. There are departments that showed strong growth over the two years: trade, communications and services. In addition, the recession occurred only in the state sector, the private sector showed strong growth. Thus, one should accept the conclusion that departments that were overdeveloped shrank and neglected ones expanded, and this was a natural consequence of the transition from a shortage economy to a market economy[16].

Lech Walesa President of Poland from 1990 to 1995

Tadeusz Mazowiecki First President of the Council of Ministers in 1989-1991

Lech Walesa’s campaign goal was to defeat Tadeusz Mazowiecki, but no one, including his entourage, expected such a sensational outcome as the first round of elections. Tadeusz Mazowiecki was defeated by an unknown candidate, Stanislaw Tyminski, who directed his campaign primarily at voters disillusioned with the effects of the post-1989 changes and, like Lech Walesa, made many dubious promises to voters.

In the first round they received:

Electoral Committee

Party affiliation

Votes in the first round

% of votes in the first round

Lech Walesa

Non-partisan(NSZZ “Solidarity”)

6 569 889


Stanislaw Tyminski

Libertarian Party of Canada(non-partisan in Poland)

3 797 605


Tadeusz Mazowiecki

Non-partisan(candidate of Civic Movement Democratic Action and Democratic Right Forum)

2 973 364


Włodzimierz Cimoszewicz

non-partisan(candidate of the Social Democracy of the Republic of Poland)

1 514 025


Roman Bartoszcze


1 176 175


Leszek Moczulski


411 516


Turnout in the first round was 60%. The sum of the votes cast for Tadeusz Mazowiecki, Włodzimierz Cimoszewicz, Roman Bartoszcze and Stanisław Tymiński accounted for 36.94% of the validly cast votes. The second round, with a lower turnout (about 53.39%), brought victory to Lech Walesa, who received more than 74.25% of the validly cast votes[17].

After Lech Walesa was sworn in as president of Poland, Ryszard Kaczorowski, the last president in exile, officially handed him the insignia of the president of the Second Republic, which for many people was a symbol of the continuity of the Republic and the end of the period of the absence of a democratic system in Poland. These included a seal stamp, a flag, as well as state documents and the original 1935 Constitution[18].

The 1990 elections also marked a reversal of international alliances for Poland, and in domestic politics: the continuation of the economic policy initiated by Leszek Balcerowicz, and the beginning of the careers of many politicians, including brothers Lech and Jaroslaw Kaczynski, Mieczyslaw Wachowski and Piotr Kolodziejczyk.

They also determined the division of Solidarity into two main currents: liberal and national-Catholic, and were a turning point for the post-communist left. In January 1990, the Polish United Workers’ Party was dissolved, and the Social Democracy of the Republic of Poland, formed by some of its members, began to systematically gain public confidence.

Jan Krzysztof Bielecki President of the Council of Ministers in 1991

Separate article: Parliamentary elections in Poland in 1991.

Jan Olszewski Chairman of the Council of Ministers in 1991-1992

Hanna Suchocka President of the Council of Ministers in 1992-1993

Poland’s first fully democratic and free parliamentary elections after World War II were held on October 27, 1991. With voter turnout (43.2%), representatives of 29 out of 111 participating groups won parliamentary seats[19]. The results of the latter were as follows:

Election Committee Share of votes Number of parliamentary seats obtained Number of senatorial seats obtained

Democratic Union




Democratic Left Alliance




Electoral Catholic Action




Polish People’s Party – Program Alliance




Confederation of Independent Poland




Civic Center Alliance




Liberal Democratic Congress




People’s Agreement




NSZZ “Solidarity”




Polish Party of Friends of Beer



Christian Democracy



Union of Realpolitik



“Solidarity of Labor”



Democratic Party



German minority



Such a wide dispersion of seats caused problems in forming a stable parliamentary majority and government. After two months of consultations, the first fully free coalition government was formed with Jan Olszewski (PC) as prime minister. Wieslaw Chrzanowski (ZChN) became Speaker of the Sejm, and August Chełkowski (NSZZ “Solidarity”) became Speaker of the Senate. These elections completed the process of forming democratic authorities in Poland. At the same time, they indicated the growing strength of groupings originating from the communist era: the SLD and PSL.

Separate articles: Sejm of the Republic of Poland for the first term (1991-1993) and Senators for the second term of the Senate of the Republic of Poland (1991-1993).

After the 1991 elections on December 5, 1991, President Lech Walesa (after the failure of the mission to form a new government by presidential candidate Bronislaw Geremek) appointed Jan Olszewski as Prime Minister. Olszewski, discouraged by the impossibility of forming a permanent coalition, submitted his resignation, which, however, was not accepted by the president. Finally, after lengthy negotiations, a right-wing coalition government headed by Jan Olszewski was formed on December 23, 1991[20]. Jan Olszewski’s government remained in conflict with the president. This had to lead sooner or later to the fall of this cabinet. The reason for passing a vote of no confidence was the so-called Macierewicz list, a list of people who collaborated with the SB. The list included 64 names of incumbent ministers, officials and deputies[21]. In this situation, the president sent a motion to the Sejm for the immediate dismissal of the government. After a heated debate on the night of June 5, 1992, a vote of no confidence in Prime Minister Olszewski’s government was passed in the Sejm[22]. President Lech Walesa designated Waldemar Pawlak as prime minister, but the latter failed to form a government and resigned after 33 days[23]. In this situation, Hanna Suchocka became the new prime minister in July[24]. However, in 1993 the Sejm passed a vote of no confidence in her government[25]. Faced with these events, Polish President Lech Walesa, by virtue of his powers, decided to dissolve Parliament and call early elections[26].

Separate article: The Little Constitution of 1992.

The political and systemic changes that took place in Poland after 1989 required the enactment of a new constitution. This was not accomplished in 1989-1991 due to the fact that most of the groupings originating from Solidarity believed that the constitution should be voted on by a fully democratically elected parliament, which the Contract Sejm certainly was not. It was not until the Sejm of the 1991-1993 term that the Constitutional Commission was formed and took steps to resolve the issue. However, it only succeeded in passing the Small Constitution – the Constitutional Act of October 17, 1992 on Mutual Relations Between the Legislative and Executive Powers of the Republic of Poland and on Local Self-Government[27]. Under it, the provisions of the 1952 Constitution of the People’s Republic of Poland concerning the socialist system were repealed and new ones were introduced, providing the basis for the political system and market economy. It stipulated that “the organs of the State in terms of legislative power are the Sejm and the Senate of the Republic of Poland, in terms of executive power – the President of the Republic of Poland and the Council of Ministers, in terms of judicial power – independent courts.”

The early dissolution of parliament (1993) by President Lech Walesa prevented the completion of work on a new constitution and caused the task to be postponed to the new parliament.

Waldemar Pawlak Chairman of the Council of Ministers 1993-1995

Jozef Oleksy Chairman of the Council of Ministers in 1995-1996

Separate article: Poland’s 1993 parliamentary elections.

The next parliamentary elections in the Third Republic were held on September 19, 1993, based on a new law setting electoral thresholds for political parties (5%) and coalitions (8%). With a 53% turnout, the parliament included representatives of six political groups and the German minority (its election threshold did not apply). They were, in order: SLD with 20.41% of the vote (171 deputies and 37 senators), PSL with 15.40% of the vote (132 deputies and 36 senators), Democratic Union (Freedom Union) with 10.49% of the vote (74 deputies and 3 senators), Labor Union with 7.28% of the vote (41 deputies), KPN with 5.77% of the vote (22 deputies) Non-partisan Reform Support Bloc with 5.42% of the vote (16 deputies and 2 senators) and German Minority with 4 deputies[28]. The election results were a success for the post-communist groups, which concluded a coalition agreement and formed a government with Waldemar Pawlak (PSL) as prime minister[29]. This government lasted until February 1995 and was replaced by the government of Jozef Oleksy (SLD) and then Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz (SLD). Jozef Oleksy (SLD) became Speaker of the Sejm, later replaced by Jozef Zych (PSL), and Adam Struzik (PSL) became Speaker of the Senate[30].

In the subsequent presidential election, Aleksander Kwasniewski won (51.72%[31]).

Years 1997-2004: Poland before accession to the European Union[edit | edit code].

On April 2, 1997, the Second National Assembly passed the Constitution of the Republic of Poland,[32] which had been worked on since 1989. In its light, the political system of the Republic of Poland is based on the division and balance of legislative power (the Sejm and the Senate), executive power (the President of the Republic of Poland and the Council of Ministers) and judicial power (courts and tribunals). The basis of the economic system is a market economy based on freedom of economic activity and private property. On May 25, 1997, in a constitutional referendum, Poles approved the Constitution’s entry into force, with 52.71% voting in favor (turnout 42.86%)[33].

From July 5 to August 6, 1997, Central Europe was hit by a flood, also known as the flood of the millennium, in which 56 people died in southern and western Poland, and the damage was estimated at about US$3.5 billion[34]. The flooding, caused by waves of heavy rainfall, covered the Oder River basin, as well as the upper Vistula and Elbe rivers. Despite the dramatic situation in the upper Oder River basin (Klodzko, Wodzislaw Slaski, Raciborz) in the country, the magnitude of the flood wave’s aftermath was initially not expected. The situation was changed by the flooding of Opole and the imminent threat to Wroclaw. The government of Prime Minister Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz, criticized for inadequate and delayed measures to deal with the effects of the floods, released a budget reserve to help flood victims. President Aleksander Kwasniewski declared a one-day national mourning in Poland on July 18, 1997[35]. On August 27, 1997, a law was passed on the application of special tax arrangements in connection with the elimination of the effects of the July 1997 flood[36].

Leszek Balcerowicz – deputy prime minister of the AWS-UW coalition government

Marian Krzaklewski – leader of the AWS

Separate article: Parliamentary elections in Poland in 1997.

The parliamentary elections of September 21, 1997 ended with the success of Electoral Action Solidarity, which won 33.83% of the vote (202 deputies and 51 senators[37]). Other groupings that found their way into parliament were: SLD with 27.13% of the vote (164 deputies and 28 senators), UW with 13.37% of the vote (60 deputies and 8 senators), PSL with 7.31% of the vote (27 deputies and 3 senators), the Polish Reconstruction Movement with 5.56% of the vote (6 deputies and 5 senators), the German Minority with 2 deputy seats, and independent candidates with 5 senatorial seats[37]. The victory of Electoral Action Solidarity, which won 1/3 of the vote, confirms the Polish public’s acquisition of a new knowledge of democracy. It voted for large political groupings and rejected small ephemera that offered no hope of improving the political and economic situation. Election Action formed a government together with the Freedom Union. It was headed by Jerzy Buzek[38]. The UW later withdrew from the coalition[39]. However, the government lasted until the end of the term of the Sejm. The reason for this was that the UW, although formally out of coalition with the AWS, in exchange for Leszek Balcerowicz becoming president of the NBP, supported the draft budget for 2001 without bringing about the downfall of Jerzy Buzek’s cabinet[40].

Minister Bronislaw Geremek, who signed the NATO ratification documents

See more in the article Poland’s Foreign Policy, under Partnership for Peace and the Road to NATO.

On March 12, 1999, after many years of efforts and diplomatic efforts, Poland was admitted to NATO[41]. On October 8, 2000, Aleksander Kwasniewski won the presidential election for the second time, this time already in the first round, receiving 53.9% of the vote winning over, among others, Andrzej Olechowski (17.3% of the vote) and Marian Krzaklewski (15.57% of the vote)[42].

Prime Ministers Leszek Miller (2001-2004) and Marek Belka (2004-2005).

In the parliamentary elections of September 23, 2001, the SLD/UP coalition won with 41.04% of the vote. In addition, Civic Platform 12.68%, Self-Defense 10.2% Law and Justice 9.5%, League of Polish Families 7.97%, Polish People’s Party 8.98% entered the parliament. The defeat was suffered by AWS (5.6%) and Freedom Union (3.2%), which did not get into parliament[43]. The failure of the groups in power was due to dissatisfaction with the implementation of 4 reforms: health care, education, territorial division and social security, numerous cases of corruption and a marked increase in unemployment. The SLD/UP and PSL formed a government headed by Leszek Miller. Later, Leszek Miller removed the PSL from the coalition for failing to maintain coalition discipline in votes[44]. A minority government was formed. In June 2003, Leszek Miller asked the Sejm to give him a vote of confidence. The Sejm granted a vote of confidence to Prime Minister Leszek Miller[45].

On June 7 and 8, 2003, Poles approved Poland’s accession to the European Union in a referendum[46].

2004-2015: Poland’s first years in the European Union[edit | edit code].

President Aleksander Kwasniewski’s signing of the treaty on Poland’s accession to the European Union.

Separate article: Stages of Poland’s integration into the European Union.

On May 1, 2004, the Republic of Poland officially joined the EU. A day later, Leszek Miller’s government resigned[47]. On June 13, 2004, the first elections to the European Parliament were held[48].

In the 2005 parliamentary elections, held on September 25, Law and Justice won with 26.99% of the vote and 155 seats in the Sejm. It was closely followed by Civic Platform, which received 24.15% of the vote (133 seats).

After unsuccessful coalition talks between PO and PiS, Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz became prime minister[49].

The presidential election was won by Lech Kaczynski of PiS, defeating Donald Tusk of Civic Platform in the second round. The first round was held on October 9, 2005[50] and the second round was held on October 23, 2005[51]. On December 23, 2005, he was sworn in before the National Assembly as president, and in his first speech announced his activity in domestic and foreign policy.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Agriculture Andrzej Lepper in 2006-2007

The parliamentary elections of autumn 2005 failed to produce a majority government. It quickly became apparent that cooperation between the largest parties in the Sejm – PO and PiS – was impossible. A minority cabinet was formed, which could not govern efficiently. Attempts were made to create a backstop for the government through various types of agreements, including the most important one, the so-called Stability Pact. The pact did not stand the test of time; it was annulled after less than a month.

On May 5, 2006, a coalition was formed. The positions of deputy prime ministers were given to controversial politicians Roman Giertych and Andrzej Lepper[52]. After further crises, the ruling coalition fell apart and on September 7, 2007, the Sejm decided to shorten the term[53].

Donald Tusk prime minister from 2007 to 2014

The parliamentary elections held on October 21, 2007 were won by PO, with 41.51% of the vote, giving it 210 seats in the Sejm. Second place went to PiS, which won 32.11% of the vote, giving it 166 deputies. It was followed by the Left and Democrats coalition (SLD, SDPL, PD, UP), which won 13.2% of the vote – 53 seats. The PSL also entered the Sejm, receiving 8.91% of the vote, giving it 31 parliamentary seats[54]. Instead, the previous term’s co-ruling LPR and Self-Defense were not in the Sejm, failing to cross the 5 percent electoral threshold[55]. PO formed a government in coalition with the PSL. Donald Tusk became prime minister of the new government, and PSL chairman Waldemar Pawlak became deputy prime minister and minister of the economy[56]. In the Senate, PO won an absolute majority of seats[54].

Lech Kaczynski President of Poland in 2005-2010

The remains of the plane at the crash site (April 10, 2010)

On April 10, 2010, a government plane carrying a Polish delegation to the celebrations marking the 70th anniversary of the Katyn massacre, headed by Polish President Lech Kaczynski, crashed while approaching Smolensk for landing. All participants of the flight (96 people) were killed[57].

In accordance with the Polish Constitution, Sejm Speaker Bronislaw Komorowski took over as President of Poland,[58] followed by Senate Speaker Bogdan Borusewicz and then new Sejm Speaker Grzegorz Schetyna after his resignation.

Bronislaw Komorowski President of Poland from 2010 to 2015

The first round of early presidential elections was held on June 20 and did not produce a final result. PO candidate Bronislaw Komorowski received the most votes (41.54%), with PiS candidate Jaroslaw Kaczynski coming in second (36.46%). The next places were taken by Grzegorz Napieralski – the SLD candidate (13.68%) and Janusz Korwin-Mikke (Freedom and Rule of Law) – 2.48%[59]. In the second round, held on July 4, Bronislaw Komorowski won with 53.01% of the vote, Jaroslaw Kaczynski won 46.99% of the vote[60]. On August 6, 2010, Bronislaw Komorowski was sworn in before the National Assembly as President of Poland.

PO Chairwoman, Prime Minister in 2014-2015 – Ewa Kopacz

The parliamentary elections held on October 9, 2011 were won by PO, with 39.18% of the vote, giving 207 seats in the Sejm. Second place went to PiS, which won 29.89% of the vote, giving 157 deputies. The Palikot Movement came next, winning 10.02% of the vote – 40 seats. PSL also entered the Sejm, winning 8.36% of the vote – 28 seats, and SLD, winning 8.24% of the vote, which gave 27 parliamentary seats. PO formed the government again in coalition with PSL. The Prime Minister of the new government was once again Donald Tusk, and PSL Chairman Waldemar Pawlak again became Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Economy. In the Senate, PO won an absolute majority of seats, as in previous elections.

From 2015: Poland under the United Right[edit | edit code].

Separate articles: Presidential elections in Poland in 2015 and Parliamentary elections in Poland in 2015.

The first round of the presidential election was held on May 10 and did not produce a final result. Law and Justice candidate Andrzej Duda received the most votes (34.76%), while the second result was achieved by the candidate supported by PO and seeking re-election, Bronislaw Komorowski (33.77%). The next places were taken by Pawel Kukiz, a non-partisan candidate (20.8%), and Janusz Korwin-Mikke (KORWiN) – 3.26%[61]. In the second round, which took place on May 24, Andrzej Duda won with 51.55% of the vote and won over incumbent President Bronislaw Komorowski, who won 48.45% of the vote[62]. Andrzej Duda was sworn in as President of Poland on August 6, 2015 before the National Assembly.

Jaroslaw Kaczynski, president of the Law and Justice party, prime minister from 2006 to 2007

Mateusz Morawiecki prime minister since 2017

Parliamentary elections were held on October 25, 2015, with five parties entering the Sejm. The victorious Law and Justice electoral committee, which won 37.58% of the vote (235 seats), became the first since 1989 to win a majority enabling the formation of an independent government[63]. Also getting into the Sejm were: Civic Platform, Kukiz’15, Nowoczesna and the Polish People’s Party. Outside the parliament was the Left[64]. Beata Szydło became prime minister, later replaced in 2017 by Mateusz Morawiecki.

Since the 2015 elections, there has been a shift in the burden of real power in the state to the president of the ruling party at the expense of constitutional authorities. Combined with other developments, this has led to a situation sometimes referred to as a constitutional crisis[63]. The term IV Republic began to be used in the media and by some politicians to refer to Poland under the rule of the political party Law and Justice and its coalition partners (in 2015-2017 Solidarna Polska and Polska Razem, between 2017 and 2021 Solidarna Polska and Porozumienie, and from 2021 Solidarna Polska and the Republican Party)[65][66][67][68][69][70][71][72][73][74], and the media has been reporting on the end of the Third Republic after the Law and Justice party came to power (the so-called “IV Rzeczpospolita”). „IV Rzeczpospolita”)[75][76][77][78][79][80].

Separate articles: Protests against judicial changes in Poland, Crisis around the Constitutional Court in Poland and Crisis around the Supreme Court in Poland.

The 2019 parliamentary elections were held on October 13[81]. Five election committees entered the Sejm. The victorious Law and Justice electoral committee, which won 43.59% of the vote (235 seats), won a majority for the second time to form an independent government. Also getting into the Sejm were: Civic Coalition, Democratic Left Alliance, Polish People’s Party and Freedom and Independence Confederation[82][83]. The winning election committee failed to win a majority in the Senate despite winning the largest number of seats[82]. Turnout was 61.74%[84].

Separate article: COVID-19 pandemic in Poland.

The first case of SARS-CoV-2 virus infection was found on March 4, 2020 in Zielona Gora[85]. From March 14 to March 20, 2020, an epidemic emergency was in effect in Poland[86], and from March 15, 2020, a sanitary cordon was introduced at Poland’s borders, significantly restricting border traffic[86][87]. From March 20, 2020 to May 16, 2022, an epidemic state was in effect in Poland[88][89]. Due to the pandemic, the first round of presidential elections scheduled for May 10, 2020 did not take place[90]. As of May 16, 2022, a state of epidemic emergency is again in force in Poland[91].

Restrictions on rights and freedoms to combat the pandemic were implemented not under any of the constitutional states of emergency, but under the Law on Prevention and Control of Infections and Infectious Diseases, which raises legal and constitutional questions[63].

The first round of the presidential election was finally held on June 28 and did not produce a final result[92]. The PiS-backed incumbent President Andrzej Duda, seeking re-election, received the most votes (43.50%), with the PO-backed candidate Rafal Trzaskowski coming in second (30.46%). The next places were taken by Szymon Holownia – a non-partisan candidate (13.87%) and Krzysztof Bosak (Konfederacja, Ruch Narodowy) – 6.78%[93]. In the second round, which took place on July 12, the incumbent President Andrzej Duda won with 51.03% of the vote and won over the Civic Coalition-backed candidate Rafal Trzaskowski, who won 48.97% of the vote[94]. Turnout in the first round was 64.51% of eligible voters[93] and in the second round was 68.18%[94]. The swearing-in of Polish President Andrzej Duda for a second term was held on August 6, 2020 before the National Assembly[95].

On June 20, 2021, the Republican Convention was held, at which the formation of the Republican Party was announced, and which became part of the United Right coalition[96][97]. On August 11, 2021, President Andrzej Duda, dismissed, at the request of Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, Jaroslaw Gowin from his position as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Development, Labor and Technology,[98] and the Accord left the ruling coalition and formed its own parliamentary circle[99]. The reason for the resignation was the Covenant’s criticism in the summer of 2021 of the proposed changes to the media market and tax proposals under the government’s “Polish Deal” program[100].

On September 2, 2021, a state of emergency was imposed along the entire border with Belarus due to the migrant crisis[101].

On March 9, 2022, in connection with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine that began on February 24, 2022, the Sejm passed a law on assistance to Ukrainian citizens in connection with the armed conflict on the territory of that country,[102] which came into force on March 12, 2022[103] and was linked to the influx of refugees from Ukraine to Poland,[104] and their number exceeded 1 million people on March 6, 2022 at 20:00 Polish time, according to the Border Guard[105].

Economy[edit | edit code].

See more in the article Economy of Poland, in the section Economy after 1989.

Economy in 1989[edit | edit code].

Before the introduction of the Balcerowicz Plan, Poland was experiencing hyperinflation (annual inflation rate in 1989: +639.6%, which began to increase after the elections from August 1989), foreign debt amounted to $42.3 billion (64.8% of GDP according to the Central Statistical Office), and there were huge market shortages.

Balcerowicz Plan[edit | edit code].

Separate articles: The Balcerowicz Plan and the Sachs-Lipton Plan.

Announced in late 1989, it envisioned a transition from a centrally planned economy to a market economy. It included 10 laws. It eliminated the guarantee of existence of all state-owned enterprises by introducing the possibility of bankruptcy. It banned the National Bank of Poland from financing the budget deficit and issuing empty money, and linked the interest rate to the inflation rate. He also introduced a unified tax across all economic sectors. It introduced an obligation for foreign companies to sell foreign currency to the state at a rate set by the central bank; at the same time, these companies were exempt from paying a pop. In turn, the new foreign exchange law introduced the internal convertibility of the zloty, abolished the state monopoly in foreign trade, liquidated domestic sales (Pewex, Baltona), and introduced uniform rules for the clinking of goods. The existence of unemployment was sanctioned, and severance pay and unemployment benefits were introduced.

Economy from 1991-2004[edit | edit code].

At the end of 1990, trade with the Comecon countries collapsed, trade in the transfer ruble was replaced by free-devisa settlements. This caused exports to the USSR to fall by at least half[106]. The implementation of the Balcerowicz plan caused inflation to fall. In January 1991 it was over 12.7%. In the following months it steadily declined to reach 0.1% in July[107]. At the beginning of the 1990s, the economy faced a high budget deficit, unemployment, declining industrial production and GDP, and economic scandals. A number of enterprises, such as the Safe Savings Bank, or Art-B, were created, taking advantage of imperfect laws for financial gain. The budget deficit was expanded several times to eventually reach 31 trillion zlotys. In turn, the number of unemployed rose to 12.2%. (i.e., 2.1 million unemployed). There was also a decline in real income, and it was felt most acutely in agriculture, where it amounted to about 15%[107]. The economy also underwent ownership transformations, with capital privatization, liquidation or sale of enterprises. Shares of the best companies were traded on the Stock Exchange[108]. In September 1992, Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary approached the European Union about the terms of talks and a timetable for membership[109].

The following years saw GDP growth oscillating around 6%, reaching 7% in 1994. In addition to GDP growth, 1994-1998 saw another drop in unemployment from 16 to 10.3% and a drop in inflation to 15%. Favorable economic indicators began to attract foreign investors, causing investment to rise to $2.51 billion in 1995 and $5.2 billion in 1996[110]. From 1999, unemployment rose again, reaching over 20% in the first months of 2003[111].

Poland’s economy in the EU[edit | edit code].

In 2004. Poland became a member of the European Union, and thus a customs union and single market. Customs duties on goods imported from abroad were abolished, Polish citizens were given access to the labor markets of countries in the EU (most countries introduced transition periods lasting from 2 to 7 years). As of the date of accession to the EU, Poles could legally work in Ireland. In turn, farmers from the new member states became beneficiaries of direct subsidies. In 2007-2008, Poland joined the Schengen Agreement. On May 1, 2009, five years after Poland joined the EU, the protection periods for the purchase of houses and apartments in Poland by foreigners – EU citizens – ended.

In 2015. Poland was the EU’s 6th economy in terms of GDP in purchasing power parity and the 24th economy in the world, and in terms of nominal GDP it was the EU’s 8th economy and the 25th economy in the world. In 2015. Poland’s GDP per capita in purchasing power parity was PPS 19,700 (68.6% of the EU average), and its nominal GDP per capita was EUR 11,123 (38.7% of the EU average).

Unemployment in Poland has continued to decline steadily since 2013, reaching 8.2% in Q4 2016, the lowest level since 1990. According to Eurostat methodology, unemployment in Poland in Q4 2016 fell to 5.7% and was lower than the EU average (8.2%)[112].

Ownership transformation[edit | edit code].

Separate article: Ownership transformation in Poland after 1989.

Privatization[edit | edit code].

After the Round Table and the 1989 elections, Poland entered a period of free market transformation. In order to face global competition, successive governments (on July 13, 1990, the Ministry of Privatization was created by an act to establish the office of the Minister of Privatization,[113] whose powers were later taken over by the Ministry of the State Treasury, established on October 1, 1996[114]) launched a privatization drive. It took three forms:

capital privatization, universal enfranchisement – ownership was given to all citizens (see Universal Privatization Program),

direct privatization.

On August 1, 1990, the Law of July 13, 1990 on the Privatization of State Enterprises[115] came into force, which was replaced on January 8, 1997 by the Law of August 30, 1996 on the Commercialization and Privatization of State Enterprises (since January 1, 2017 functioning as the Law on Commercialization and Certain Rights of Employees)[116].

The ownership transformation was carried out on the basis of the 1990 Law on Privatization of State-Owned Enterprises[117] – enterprises in poor financial condition were liquidated and their assets sold, and functioning enterprises were privatized through their sale. The ownership transformation transformed Poland into a country with an economic model based on private ownership in place of the previously dominant state ownership. In the first period of transition, privatization became an important source of budget revenues, an important part of the political demands was to raise as much money as possible from the sale of state assets[118].

Modern capital trading was made possible by the opening of the stock exchange in 1991 The stock exchange quickly grew to the largest in Central Europe, and trading in the shares of privatized companies became a source of important earnings for many players[119].

A negative aspect of privatization was the limited number of entities with sufficient funds to acquire enterprises or their shares, with the result that participation in privatization was out of reach for the vast majority of Poles. The result was growing dissatisfaction and increasingly poorer assessments of the overall privatization process among the public, as well as accusations by politicians carrying out the privatization process of abuse and under-valuation of assets subject to privatization[118].

The 1993 program of general privatization ended in complete failure – despite the fact that all Poles were given the opportunity to purchase, for the sum of PLN 20, a certificate of participation in the National Investment Fund managing the assets of privatized state enterprises, the vast majority of beneficiaries sold them on the market immediately after purchase. The assets of state-owned enterprises were acquired through this route by a small number of individuals[118].

Reprivatization[edit | edit code].

Separate article: Reprivatization in Poland.

The process of reprivatization has never been sorted out in Poland. Since the collapse of the People’s Republic of Poland, it has taken place on the basis of final administrative decisions or final court rulings. However, this applies only to those cases where the seizure of property was unlawful (e.g., no legal basis or overstepping the boundaries of nationalization). In the Ministry of the Treasury, work on draft legal regulation of the above problem has been carried out since 1990. In 2001. The Sejm of the Republic of Poland passed a law on reprivatization. However, it was not signed by Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski. The last such attempt took place in 2008 (the Law on Compensation for Wrongs Suffered as a Result of Nationalization Processes in 1944-1962),[120] but it also failed. On September 17, 2016, the Law of June 25, 2015, amending the Law on Real Estate Management and the Law – Family and Guardianship Code (Journal of Laws of 2016, item 1271), also known as the Small Reprivatization Law, came into force, which is designed to sort out selected issues related to the implementation of the claims of former owners of Warsaw land[121]. Poland remains the only former Soviet bloc country where reprivatization has not been carried out[122]. In view of the inefficient management of communal housing, this results in numerous social conflicts[123] and recourse to extra-legal methods of property recovery[124]. The unregulated ownership of many properties also results in blocking investment and urban planning[125].

Education[edit | edit code].

See more in the article Education in Poland, in the section Period of the Third Republic.

Military[edit | edit code].

Separate article: Armed Forces of the Republic of Poland.

The Armed Forces of the Republic of Poland (Polish Army) is the defense structure of the Polish State.

The Polish Armed Forces guard the sovereignty of the Polish Nation and its security and peace. They may also take part in foreign missions within NATO and the United Nations, fighting natural disasters, anti-terrorist actions, search operations, and saving human lives. They also take part in clearing areas of hazardous materials of military origin and neutralize them[126].

Authority over the Armed Forces is exercised by the President of the Republic of Poland, or in extraordinary cases by the Speaker of the Sejm, with the Minister of ON providing overall leadership.

Since February 11, 2009, there has been no forced conscription in Poland, and on January 22, 2010, the process of complete professionalization of the army ended.

State-church relations[edit | edit code].

See more in the article Separation of Church and State in Poland, in the Third Republic section.

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