Country Listing

Poland Table of Contents



Government: Prescribed by 1952 constitution, its many amendments, and 1992 Little Constitution that defines executive powers. Legislative power centered in popularly elected bicameral National Assembly (upper, 100-member Senate; lower, 460-member Sejm). President, popularly elected to five-year term, acts as head of state, approves Sejm nominations for prime minister (head of government), and has decree power on many issues. Prime minister chooses Council of Ministers (cabinet), responsible to Sejm and president, to administer government.

Politics: Domination of communist Polish United Workers Party Polska Zjednoczona Partia Robotnicza (PZPR) ended 1989. Umbrella opposition coalition Solidarity split several ways in 1990, joined by various new and revived groups in complex structure dominated by none. All governments 1989-93 based on at least seven parties in coalition, with constant threat of conflicting agendas causing collapse. Influential parties had religious (Party of Christian Democrats, Christian National Union), class-based (Polish Peasant Party, Peasant Alliance), or broadly political (Democratic Union, Liberal-Democratic Congress) agendas. Social Democracy of the Republic of Poland succeeded PZPR, maintained some power with democratized platform, and achieved plurality in 1993 election as dominant faction of Alliance of the Democratic Left coalition.

Administrative Divisions: Forty-nine districts and three municipalities (Warsaw, Kraków, ód ) with special status. Counties basic form of local government, run by directly elected county councils. Both levels with substantial autonomy from central government.

Foreign Relations: After collapse of Soviet Union and its alliances, 1990-91, major shift toward relations with individual former Soviet states, especially Belarus, Lithuania, Russia, and Ukraine. Long-term national security goal integration into Western Europe, including European Community (EC) and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Regional security sought in Visegrád alliance with Czech Republic, Hungary, and Slovakia. Improved relations with Germany, continued tension with Lithuania 1992.

Data as of October 1992