Location: Central Europe Official name: Republic of Poland (Rzeczpospolita Polska) Capital (and largest city): Warsaw Official language: Polish Demonym: Polish
Poland is bounded by six countries: Belarus, Germany, Ukraine, Lithuania, Czech Republic, and Slovakia, and one exclave: Kaliningrad Oblast. Largest country in Central Europe in terms of size; second-largest in terms of population.
Of the 38,441,558 inhabitants of Poland, a vast majority (89.8% of the population) are adherents of the Roman Catholic Church. Catholicism has a significant role in the lives of Poles; as such, the Roman Catholic Church in Poland has so much influence that under the communist era, most Polish citizens refused to renounce their religious beliefs, and thus attended church services regularly, despite suppression of religion. The Roman Catholic Church’s members respect the Church, seeing it as a token of Poland’s heritage and culture. The remainder of the population comprises primarily Eastern Orthodox (roughly 806,000 adherents, Poles and Belarusians), Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession on Poland (roughly 85,000) and different Protestant (roughly 250,000, with approximately 130,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses in greatest religious minorities).
Member of European Union, NATO, United Nations, World Trade Organization, Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), European Economic Area, International Energy Agency, Council of Europe, Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, International Atomic Energy Agency, G6, Council of the Baltic Sea States, Visegrád Group, Weimar Triangle and Schengen Agreement.
Government (rząd): Parliamentary republic President (Prezydent Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej): Bronisław Komorowski (PO) Prime Minister (Prezes Rady Ministrów): Donald Tusk (PO) Legislature: National Assembly (Zgromadzenie Narodowe) Upper house: Senate (Senat) Lower house: Sejm
Born 4 June 1952 in Oborniki Śląskie. 4th and current President of Poland. As Marshal of Sejm (Speaker of Parliament) from 2007-2010, he applied powers and duties as head of state following death of Lech Kaczyński in a plane crash on 10 April 2010, making him acting president until 8 July 2010. Was ruling Civil Platform party’s candidate in subsequent 2010 presidential election, in which he won in second round of voting on 4 July 2010 and was sworn in 6 August 2010; consequently, he is the second person to serve two times as Polish head of state since 1918 after Maciej Rataj, even though Rataj was Acting President twice, and Komorowksi first served as acting President, later being elected President. Also served as Minister of Defense from 2000 to 2001.
Born 22 April 1957 in Gdańsk. 14th and current PM of Poland. One of the co-founders and current chairman of Civic Platform (Platforma Obywatelska) Nominated to be PM on 9 November 2007; assumed office 16 November. His cabinet secured vote of confidence in Sejm on 24 November 2007; currently longest serving PM of Third Republic of Poland. Became first PM to be re-elected since the end of communism in Poland when Civic Platform secured plurality in October 2011 parliamentary election. Started public career as activist in home town of Gdańsk, endorsing Solidarity and organizing fellow university students. Served in Third Republic parliament almost uninterrupted, the only exception being one four-year stretch. Vice Marshal (deputy speaker) of the Senate from 1997-2001 and subsequently Vice Marshal of the Sejm from 2001-2005. Also served as Leader of the Opposition from 2003- 2007, making that post his last until his appointment as PM.
Name of both chambers in Poland’s parliament, Sejm and Senate, in event of joint session. Presided over by Marshal of the Sejm (or by Marshal of the Senate in event that former is not present). From 1922 until 1935 and 1989 until 1990, National Assembly elected President of the Republic of Poland by absolute majority of votes; replaced by Assembly of Electors in 1935, and these comprised of PM, Chief Justice, General Armed Forces Inspector, two- thirds of deputies to Sejm, and one-third of Senators. Senate was dissolved in 1946; consequently, Bolesław Bierut was elected President only by Sejm, in 1947. There were no presidents between 1952 and 1989, when Senate was brought back into existence and National Assembly elected Wojciech Jaruzelski as Third Republic of Poland’s first president.
President has been elected by people since 1990, even though the President always takes office before National Assembly, also only part which can assert President’s lasting incapacity to execute responsibilities, or bring charge against him/her before State Tribunal, is sworn in. From 1992-1997, National Assembly sketched and passed new Constitution, which was confirmed by national referendum on 25 May 1997.
Civic Platform (Platforma Obywatelska, PO) Law and Justice (Prawo i Sprawiedliwość, PiS) Palikot’s Movement (Ruch Palikota, RP) Polish People’s Party (Polskie Stronnictwo Ludowe, PSL) Democratic Left Alliance (Sojusz Lewicy Demokratycznej, SLD) United Poland (Solidarna Polska, SP) Poland Comes First (Polska Jest Najważniejsza, PJN) Labour Union (Unia Pracy, UP)
Centrist party. Main coalition partner in Poland’s government since 2007 parliamentary election, with party leader Donald Tusk as PM and Bronisław Komorowski as President. Biggest party in Sejm (207 seats) and Senate (63 seats); has 25 seats in European Parliament. Founded 1 July 2001 as break from Solidarity Electoral Action, under leadership of Andrej Olechowski and Maciej Płażyński, with Donald Tusk of Freedom Union. In 2001 parliamentary election, it rose as biggest opposition party, after governing centre-left Democratic Left Alliance. Stayed second-largest party in 2005 parliamentary election, but this time after national conservative Law and Justice (PiS). Surpassed PiS in 2007 parliamentary election; the two parties emerged as two prevailing parties, forming coalition government with Polish People’s Party. After Smolensk disaster of 10 April 2010 that resulted in death of President Lech Kaczyński, Bronisław Komorowski was elected first President from PO in subsequent election. Member of European People’s Party (EPP).
Right-wing, conservative party. Second biggest party in Poland’s parliament, with 136 seats in Sejm and 29 in Senate. Founded 13 June 2001 by Kaczyński twins, Lech and Jarosław. Created from part of Solidarity Electoral Action, with Christian Democratic Centre Agreement creating new party’s core. Secured victory in 2005 parliamentary election; Lech Kaczyński was elected president in presidential election of same year. Jarosław Kaczyński served as his brother’s PM from July 2006-November 2007 prior to 2007 parliamentary election, in which PiS came in second, behind Civic Platform; various leading members, including Lech Kaczyński himself, died in April 2010 plane crash near Smolensk, Russia. Party programme is governed by [Lech] Kaczyński anti-corruption, conservative, law and order agenda. Has included economic interventionism, while retaining socially conservative position that moved in 2005 towards Catholic Church. Soft eurosceptic, and member of anti-federalist Alliance of European Conservatives and Reformists and eleven MEPs sit in ECR Group.