Poland Basic Information

By | July 21, 2022

Basic information about the territory

Poland Basic Information

Subchapters:

  • System of governance and political tendencies in the country
  • Foreign policy of the country
  • Population

The system of governance and political tendencies in the country

Poland is a parliamentary republic. The head of state is the directly elected president, whose election is two-round. Therefore, the winner must receive an absolute majority of all votes cast. Andrzej Duda has been president since 2015, who defended his mandate for another five years in the July 2020 elections. The head of government is the prime minister, who is responsible to the parliament. In the Polish system, the Parliament is bicameral, divided into the Sejm (ie the Chamber of Deputies) and the Senate. For the purposes of elections to the Senate, the territory of Poland is divided into 100 single-mandate constituencies, each of which has a directly elected senator. The election system is majority, single-round. A simple majority of votes is enough for the winner.

For the purposes of elections to the Sejm, the territory of Poland is divided into 41 multi-mandate constituencies, from which a total of 460 members of the Sejm will be elected. The system of these elections is proportional with a 5% voting clause. The Sejm and the Senate are always held at the same time (on the same date). Judicial power in Poland is divided between the Supreme Court, the Supreme Administrative Court, the Constitutional Court and the State Court. With the exception of the latter, the functions of individual courts are the same as in the Czech Republic. The State Court is a specialized tribunal for persons holding the highest state positions who have been accused of violating the constitution and other legal regulations. The last parliamentary elections in Poland took place in October 2019. The Law and Justice Party (Prawo i Sprawiedliwość – PiS) defended its 2015 victory with 43.59% of the vote in these elections. Check computerminus to learn more about Poland political system.

Candidates from the coalition parties Solidární Polska (Solidarna Polska) and Dohoda (Porozumienie) also appeared on the PiS candidate lists (and were elected to the Sejm). However, unlike the 2015 elections, the PiS party did not manage to win a majority in the Senate. For the government coalition, this may mean complications and delays in the enforcement of some laws. In the event that the Senate requests amendments to the submitted draft law or rejects it completely, the Sejm must override it by a supermajority of votes with the participation of at least half of the deputies. Despite the partial disputes within the coalition, which led to a large-scale reconstruction of the government in September 2020 (linked to the return of PiS leader Jarosław Kaczyński to the government as vice-president) and August 2021, it is generally expected that the current government coalition will remain until the next regular elections in in 2023.

Composition of the government:

  • Mateusz Morawiecki – Prime Minister and Minister of Digitization
  • Jarosław Kaczyński – Deputy Prime Minister
  • Henryk Kowalczyk – Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development
  • Piotr Gliński – Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Culture and National Heritage
  • Jacek Sasin – Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State Assets
  • Andrzej Adamczyk – Minister of Infrastructure
  • Mariusz Błaszczak – Minister of National Defence
  • Kamil Bortniczuk – Minister of Sports and Tourism
  • Przemysław Czarnek – Minister of Education and Science
  • Mariusz Kamiński – Minister of the Interior and Administration, Coordinator of Intelligence Services
  • Magdalena Rzeczkowska – Minister of Finance
  • Marlena Maląg – Minister of Family and Social Policy
  • Anna Moskwa – Minister of Climate and Environment
  • Adam Niedzielski – Minister of Health
  • Grzegorz Půda – Minister of Funds and Regional Policy
  • Waldemar Buda – Minister of Development and Technology
  • Zbigniew Rau – Minister of Foreign Affairs
  • Zbigniew Ziobro – Minister of Justice
  • Michał Cieślak – minister, member of the government
  • Michał Dworczyk – minister, member of the government; head chancellor of the prime minister
  • Łukasz Schreiber – minister, member of the government
  • Konrad Szymański – Minister for European Affairs
  • Michał Wójcik – minister, member of the government

Foreign policy of the country

The government of the Law and Justice party for Poland’s foreign policy primarily means an emphasis on strengthening national security and national sovereignty. For Poland’s foreign policy, membership in the European Union and strong transatlantic ties are decisive. Poland joined the EU together with the Czech Republic in 2004. Together, both countries also joined the North Atlantic Alliance (NATO) in March 1999. In addition, Poland is a founding head of the United Nations (1945), a member of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD; since 1996) and a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO; since 1995). At the regional level, it cooperates with the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary within the Visegrad Four, which was established in 1991. Check relationshipsplus for Poland defense and foreign policy.

Above all, from the Polish point of view, cooperation within the framework of the Weimar Triangle, which was also founded in 1991 and whose members include Germany and France in addition to Poland, is important. Poland has high expectations for the Three Seas Initiative (3SI), founded in 2016. This informal organization brings together 12 countries in Central and Eastern Europe from the Baltic Sea coast to the Adriatic and Black Sea coasts. The goal of the organization is primarily economic cooperation and infrastructural connection of the region in the north-south direction. Members of the organization are Bulgaria, the Czechia, Estonia, Croatia, Lithuania, Latvia, Hungary, Poland, Austria, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia. The observer countries are Germany and the United States of America.

The dominant priority of Polish foreign policy became diplomatic, financial and military aid to Ukraine after the Russian invasion in February 2022. From Poland’s point of view, a long-standing fear was thus fulfilled when Russia was publicly declared to be the main rival in international relations and a security threat to peace in Europe. In doing so, she also consolidated the main priority of Polish security policy – ​​strengthening transatlantic ties, through NATO membership – Poland is among the minority of European countries that meet the alliance’s defense budget commitment of 2% of GDP – and by strengthening bilateral relations with the USA.

These were successfully developed already during the administration of President Donald Trump, when Poland managed to conclude several important agreements (for example, on the deployment of American soldiers in Poland or cooperation in the implementation of Polish plans for the construction of nuclear power plants). With the current administration of Joe Biden, Poland managed to find agreement in the continuity of this policy and, thanks to cooperation in relation to Ukraine, further strengthened its position as the main US ally in the region. Relations with the EU are mainly complicated by the Polish judicial reform. According to the European Commission, the reform threatens the independence of the judiciary. The EC filed a lawsuit against Poland at the European Court of Justice in this matter.

Population

The total population of Poland is 37.7 million. This makes Poland the 5th most populous country in the European Union, the 8th most populous country in Europe and the 36th in the world. The inhabitants of Poland make up approximately 7.47% of the total population of the EU. With a population density of 123 inhabitants per square kilometer, it ranks among moderately populated countries. For comparison, the Czech Republic has 136 inhabitants per square kilometer. Fully 97% of the country’s population claim to be of Polish nationality, another 2.2% are of Silesian nationality, and the remaining 0.8% belong to other nationalities. In terms of religion, 91.9% of the population profess Roman Catholicism. Women make up almost 52% of the total population of Poland. The ratio of the number of men to the number of women in the population of Poland is 100: 107.

In the last 15 years, the population of Poland has been steadily decreasing. The exception was 2017, when the number of inhabitants increased slightly, specifically by less than 1,000. There are mainly 2 factors behind the decrease in the number of inhabitants. First of all, it is a negative balance of natural population growth. In 2021, the number of births was approximately 147,000 lower than the number of deaths (519,000 people). The total number of 331,000 births is 24,000 less than in 2021. The trend of lower birth rates will continue in the future. The second factor is the high rate of emigration of Poles abroad (mainly after joining the EU in 2004). Emigration mainly concerns young people, for whom a return to their home country cannot be ruled out in the future.

A turn in the described demographic trend could occur in connection with the arrival of refugees from Ukraine. After a strong wave after the beginning of Russian aggression, the number of refugees is now at the level of approximately 2 million people. The question for the future remains how many of them will decide to stay in Poland. So far, the Polish government has tried to maximize aid – including recognizing education and placing children in schools.