Poland Population and History
Central European state. According to health-beauty-guides, the population estimated by UNDESA (United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs) in 2014 it was 38,220,543 residents. The urban network of Poland tends more and more towards monocentricity, with the capital, Warsaw, now the only true driving force of the country, while the other large cities suffer, the small ones show little dynamism and the eastern rural areas appear in a situation of now chronic crisis. Warsaw saw its residents increase by more than half a million in the fifteen years 1997-2012, when it reached 2,666,268 in its urban agglomeration. In the meantime, other large centers were stable (Wroclaw, Gdansk) or even declining residents (Łódź, Lublin, Bydgoszcz, Katowice, Poznań, Szczecin). Of the large Polish cities, only Krakow is experiencing a very limited demographic growth; the population of the smaller towns, on the other hand, is decreasing everywhere. On the other hand, the natural increase in Poland has been around zero for many years (the fertility rate is among the lowest in the world), while the migratory balance shows a negative balance, despite the fact that the inflow is increasing. from Ukraine. The demographics especially penalize the historic mining region of Silesia, one of the richest coalfields in Europe, and the eastern rural areas. These data reflect the worsening of the historic rift between the western side of the Poland, more prosperous and developed, and the eastern one, backward and disconnected from the vital economic axes of the country. If the process of urban renewal of the capital Warsaw was also achieved through the improvement of the transport network (opening of the second metro line and new tram lines, Warsaw-Berlin fast rail link), the same cannot be said for the communication infrastructures of the rest of the country, which continue to remain generally backward. However, new modernization projects have been launched in this regard.
At the turn of the first decade of the 21st century. the Polish political scenario seemed to stabilize under the banner of the marginalization of the left and the hegemony of two parties that arose from the ashes of Solidarność: the PIS (Prawo i Sprawiedliwość, Law and Justice), a party kept king, supporter of Catholic patriotism and the so-called “Polish pride”, and the Liberal and pro-European PO (Platforma Obywatelska, Civic Platform).
After the parliamentary and presidential elections of 2005, the PIS found itself expressing both the prime minister and the president of the Republic: the first role was held by Jaroslaw Kaczyński, the second by his twin brother Lech. Nationalist and Eurosceptic, the PIS was particularly hostile to Germany and to the policies of the European Union in terms of privatization, environment and civil rights, as evidenced by the request to exclude Poland from the scope of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights., fearing that it could force the country to recognize abortion or homosexual rights.
Despite the declared commitment against the perverse intertwining between politics and business, in the summer of 2007 the involvement of the PIS in corruption allegations and some sex scandals wrecked the government. The new elections – which saw the highest participation since 1989 (53.9%) – sanctioned the defeat of the PIS (32.1%, 166 seats) and the affirmation of the PO (41.5%, 209 seats), ironclad supporter of German policies and a relaunch of relations with the EU and Russia. Under the leadership of Donald Tusk, the PO formed a coalition government with the centrist Christian Democratic Party PSL (Polskie Stronnictwo Ludowe, Polish People’s Party, 8.9%, 31 seats), representative of the peasantry. Backed by the younger, more urban and pro-Western electorate and harshly opposed by President Kaczyński, Tusk set out to resume privatization, defeat corruption and rebuild the credibility of institutions.
Despite maintaining strong relations with the United States and with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Tusk pledged to improve relations with Russia, which, as a first step, recognized Soviet responsibility for killing thousands of officers. Poles in Katyn in 1940. On April 7, 2010, Tusk attended the first commemoration of the massacre. Three days later, the plane on which Lech Kaczyński was traveling, on his way to a second celebration, crashed near Smolensk (Russia): the president and 95 others died there, all high-ranking members of the state, economic and Polish military.
In the new presidential elections (June 2010), Bronisław Komorowski (PO), who defeated Jaroslaw Kaczyńsk (PIS), was elected in the second round, with 53% of the votes. The parliamentary elections of October 2011 saw the OP once again winning (39.2%, 207 seats) against the PIS (29.9%, 157 seats). Tusk was then confirmed for a second term, maintaining the coalition with the PSL (8.4%, 28 seats). In the following years, however, the OP began to lose consensus, both because of the many scandals in which it was involved, as well as due to the inability to face the consequences of the world economic crisis (although less serious in Poland than in the rest of Europe), for the adoption of unpopular measures (such as raising the retirement age to 67) and for the adherence, considered too unconditional, to the dictates of the EU.
In terms of foreign policy, the phase of détente with Russia came to a halt following the emergence of the Ukrainian crisis between 2013 and 2014 (see Ukraine), when Poland took a clearly pro-European and anti-Russian position. On the defense front, the Tusk government withdrew the Polish contingent from Iraq (2008) and chose to focus on military missions within the EU and NATO, withdrawing its contingents from UN (United Nations Organization) missions.