Poland. According to
Countryaah, Poland's complicated relationship with former
Jewish persecution became a major topic of public debate
during the year. In Jedwabne, northeast of Warsaw, in May a
mass grave was excavated with the bodies of hundreds of
Polish Jews massacred in July 1941. Earlier, German Nazis
had been accused of the massacre, but newly published
information showed that Polish neighbors burned the victims
inside a barn. President Kwaśniewski, on behalf of the
Polish people, apologized for the massacre but was severely
criticized by church officials, who claimed that Germans
were the culprits.
Heavy rains during the summer caused severe flooding
around the Wisła River in southern Poland. At least 30
people were reported to have died in the disaster, and more
than 16,000 people were evacuated from their homes. The
flooding helped to increase the already difficult economic
problems for the government, which has long seemed to be
paralyzed by internal conflicts. around the privatization
policy. Previously good growth had slowed down, unemployment
reached 16%, and the deficit in the state budget grew to
Finance Minister Jarosław Bauc presented a tough
austerity program, which led to his dismissal in late
August. Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek's minority government,
with the Solidarity-led and fragmented right-wing Alliance
AWS, seemed to have lost control of economic policy. In
addition, negotiations with the EU on Polish membership
tightened. It was therefore not surprising that the Left
Opposition won a major victory in the general elections in
September, while the ruling AWS resigned from Parliament.
Solidarity, which led Poland out of communism, had reigned.
The Democratic Left Alliance SLD received 41% of the vote
and 216 of the 460 seats in the Sejm. Then the newly formed
right-wing Liberal Party followed the Citizens' Platform,
which took 65 seats. The militant peasant leader and EU
enemy Andrzej Lepper's Self-Defense Party surprisingly came
in third place with 53 seats. Less than half of the voters
participated in the election, which was the lowest figure in
Poland's democratic history.
The SLD leader and new Prime Minister Leszek Miller
formed a coalition with the Polish Peasant Party in October,
which received 42 seats. Poland had thus regained the
government constellation that ruled the country in the
mid-1990s. The new minister was dominated by communists, of
which Miller himself was one. But US-trained finance
minister Marek Belka suggested tough financial tightening,
while announcing tax increases. The government wanted to
give the negotiations on EU membership the highest priority,
which the Farmer Party was expected to protest. The election
had given many dissatisfaction voices among rural residents,
who saw EU adaptation as the cause of growing poverty. At
the end of the year, the EU enemy Leppers called the Foreign
Minister "villain" when he agreed to the EU's requirement to
facilitate foreigners to acquire property in Poland.
In March 2006, the former communist leader, General
Wojciech Jaruzelski, was known to have introduced a state of
emergency in 1981.
In May, the nationalist, ultra-Catholic and anti-European
party, the League of Polish Families, together with the
Samoobrona party joined the government, thus gaining a
In August 2007, Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski - twin
brother of the president - removed Interior Minister Janusz
Kaczmarek on suspicion that he had leaked information on
corruption and fraud in the Ministry of Agriculture. Since
the Party of Law and Justice took over the government,
Poland had had 2 prime ministers, 5 finance ministers, 2
foreign ministers, 2 finance ministers, 2 defense ministers
and 3 interior ministers.
The October election was won by Donald Tusk's Citizen
Platform and Tusk himself assumed the post of Prime
Minister. Two years of confrontational seeking policy with
the EU and Germany on the part of the Kaczynski twin couple
were over. Tusk approached Poland to both Germany and
Russia, and was initially very skeptical of the US missile
shield, which involved the launch of rockets in Poland. But
in July 2008, he hesitantly accepted a reduced North
American project. In August, the country withdrew its
soldiers from Iraq.
In April 2009, former leader Roman Giertych of the
Parliamentary Investigation Commission investigating
Poland's participation in the United States torture program
said that in 2006 the Commission had already submitted its
report on the criminal activities to the government. The
report has since been kept secret and no steps were taken to
stop participation in the torture activities. Several
officials and former President Kwasniewski refused to see
the report, but confirmed the continued cooperation between
the Polish authorities and the CIA.
In May, the European Commission asked Poland before the
European Court of Justice not to incorporate EU gender
discrimination legislation into its own legislation.
Furthermore, Poland has been convicted several times by the
Human Rights Court for denying women access to abortion,
even when their lives are at risk. Several women have died
in recent years because authorities have either refused to
conduct investigations or have refused to perform abortions
even though the pregnancy was life-threatening.
The Human Rights Court handed down several judgments in
2009 on the Polish judiciary. Among other things. the
country practices imprisonment for up to 2 years without
trial (prison without sentence) and holds prisoners in cells
down to 2-3 m2.
Both in 2009 and 2010, Tusk aired the ideas of a
constitutional reform. The relationship with President
Kaczyński was, to say the least, strained, so the ideas
centered on limiting the president's power. The president,
for example, should. could not veto the government bill, or
at least Parliament should have an opportunity to veto.
A Polish plane crashed outside Smolensk in Russia in
April 2010. The plane was on its way to Smolensk to mark the
70th year of the Katyn massacre - 22,000 Polish nationalists
executed by Stalin's NKVD in 1940. All 96 aboard the plane,
including the country's president Lech Kaczyński and a
number of other senior politicians were killed. In Poland,
grief was declared and the president was buried the
following week at a state funeral. The tragedy got an extra
tragic dimension because the plane crashed in Russia, and it
was the Russians who had been behind the Katyn massacre 70
years earlier. Both President Medvedev and Prime Minister
were then quick to send their condolences and the following
day the country was declared in mourning.
Bronisław Komorowski of the ruling Civil Platform won the
presidential election in June / July 2010. He got 41.5% in
the first round, while Jarosław Kaczyński of Law and Order
got the party 36.5%. Kaczyński had been looking for greater
sympathy after the brothers' tragic death in April, but it
failed. In the second round he was defeated when Komorowski
got 53% and he himself 47%.
Poland was immediately the country in the EU that managed
the first part of the global economic crisis. As the only
country in the EU, its GDP did not fall in 2009, but rose by
1.8%. However, unemployment rose through 2009 - from 7.9% in
March to 9.1% in March 2010. Youth unemployment was up
23.6%. However, contributing to the rising unemployment was
also many migrant workers returning from other European
countries that were in deeper crisis - especially Ireland.
In May 2010, Polish police shot and killed a Nigerian
trader in a Warsaw market. Police were in the process of
arresting all Africans in the market when a brawl broke out.
The Nigerian was killed by police during the fight. In
December, Nigerian-born John Abraham Godson became the first
African to join the Sejm.
The Tusk government had in 2007 imagined Poland to
introduce the Euro as currency in 2012. The economic crisis
in 2009 caused it to move this date until 2015. In 2011,
however, the euro was in deep crisis and the country's
finance minister declared that he could not imagine say that
the country should introduce the Euro currency at all. The
country presided over the EU in the second half of 2011 and
it was during this period that Croatia's accession was
The government coalition declined slightly in the October
2011 parliamentary elections. Tusk's Citizen Platform
dropped 2.3% to 39.2% and the PSL gained 0.6% to 8.4%.
Kaczyński's Law and Order Party declined 2.2% to 29.9% and
Social Democracy also declined by 4.9% to 8.2%. In fact, the
only party to advance was the Palikot Movement, which for
the first time joined the Sejm by 10%. Janusz Palikot was a
member of Tusk's Citizen Platform when, in July 2010, he
stated that Kaczyński was partly to blame for his death in
April. The statement led to a fierce controversy that ended
with Palikot being thrown out of the party. He instead
formed his own populist movement, coming to Parliament on a
mix of church-critical and right-wing positions. After the
election, the party changed its name to Your Movement. The
turnout reached 48.9%.