Officially: Rzeczpospolita Polska.
English: Poland.
Seat of government: Warszawa.
Status: Questionably democratic.
Structure: The parliament (Parlament) comprises the Sejm, elected in multi-member geographical constituencies modified by party-list proportional representation, and the Senat, elected in geographical constituencies. The Sejm chooses the prime minister. The president is elected directly.
Governing party: Prawo i Sprawiedliwość (since 2015).
Heads of government: Jarosław Kaczyński, PiS leader; Mateusz Morawiecki, PiS, prime minister (since 2017); Andrzej Duda, PiS, president (since 2015).
Chief opposition parties: Platforma Obywatelska, led by Borys Budka; Lewica, led by Krzysztof Gawkowski; Polskie Stronnictwo Ludowe, led by Władysław Kosiniak-Kamysz; Konfederacja Wolność i Niepodległość.
Assessment: The first democracy in the eastern bloc; struggling to modernize. Platforma Obywatelska campaigned as a coalition with Prawo i Sprawiedliwość during the 2005 general elections, in which PiS finished first and PO second; but they could not agree on a government, and PiS governed instead with the rightist Samoobrona Rzeczpospolitej Polskiej and Liga Polskich Rodzin. PiS originally selected Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz as prime minister, to secure the election of Lech Kaczyński (2005-10) as president late in 2005; after Lech’s election and inauguration, Jarosław (2006-7) took the premiership anyway. The government twice lost its majority with the withdrawal of Samoobrona following coalition infighting; both withdrawals proved temporary. Continued coalition instability, though, led to early elections in 2007, with PO placing first. After PO took office, there were consistent power struggles between prime minister Donald Tusk (2007-14) and Lech Kaczyński, though the presidency had been seen as a formal role only. Kaczyński attempted to seize control over all of foreign policy, including relations with the European Union, and for long refused to complete ratification of the Treaty of Lisboa. In 2010, he and numerous other high-ranking officials were killed in a plane crash; Bronisław Komorowski of PO was elected to succeed him, winning over Jarosław Kaczyński in a runoff. In 2014, Tusk resigned to become president of the European Council, succeeded by Ewa Kopacz (2014-5) of PO. A 2015 presidential election saw the defeat of Komorowski by Duda, raising the possibility of another activist presidency. Later that year, PiS won an absolute majority in parliament and Kaczyński became effective head of a unified government, with Beata Szydło (2015-7) as his prime minister. PiS has targeted its new-won power at the independent judiciary and the free press, raising alarm in Polska and beyond. In 2019 elections, the PiS electoral coalition retained a majority, with 44% of the vote, while PO remained the main opposition and Lewica saw dramatic gains.
FH: 1-1, free. Econ: 7.30 (45), flawed democracy.
Updated: 2021 June 22.