Democracy and rights
Democratization and increased freedom is the
image spread by Poland after communism. But the
controversy is now about the extent to which modern
lifestyles and tolerant values should be allowed to
change society. A tug of war is ongoing between Poland
and the EU, which claims that the ruling party is taking
control of the courts. A new media law is also
considered to have taken Poland a step back.
Vulnerable groups' rights are regularly violated
since the ruling Party of Law and Justice (PiS) won the
government power in 2015, the Norwegian Rafto Foundation
claimed when it gave its human rights award to lawyer
Adam Bodnar 2018. Bodnar has, among other things, shed
light on hate crimes where the targets were ethnic and
sexual minorities. In 2019, a Polish organization stated
that about 30 politically elected congregations at the
local or regional level had decided on measures in the
style of proclaiming themselves LGBTQ-free zones.
Offers a comprehensive list of airports in Poland, including international airports with city located, size and abbreviation, as well as the biggest airlines.
Poland has a modern constitution based on
parliamentarism and power sharing (see Political
system), but PiS is pushing conservative values hard.
At the same time, the party faces resistance - at the
ballot boxes, in the elected decision-making bodies and
on the street. Example: An openly gay politician has
founded a liberal party in support of free abortion and
gay marriage. The party has received strong support in
opinion polls and mandated the elections to the European
Parliament in 2019. During the communist era, Poland was
one of the countries where women from neighboring
countries with stricter laws went to abortion. Numbers
are strictly Poland's abortion law and women's
organizations are demonstrating against it. There have
been police raids where organizations' documents and
computers have been seized.
The Catholic Church had a heroic role in opposing the
Communist dictatorship, but has been questioned after
revealing that children and young people have been
abused by church employees. Citizens 'initiatives have
been decisive in order to shed light on the clergy' s
abuse of power (see Calendar), but now the abuses are
also addressed in courts.
Anti-Semitism is a sensitive topic. The President, on
behalf of the Republic, made an apology to Jews who were
forced into exile in 1968 by the Communist regime and
were deprived of their citizenship. Poland has a
strained relationship with its remaining Jewish
residents and with Israel, which is the extent to which
Poles contributed to the Nazis' crimes during the Second
World War. In recent years, the iwiętokrzyska brigade
(brigade of the Holy Cross) has been celebrated right up
at the government level. The brigade was formed during
the war, but did not join the Polish resistance
movement. Seen from elsewhere, the brigade is perceived
as Nazi collaborators.
Today's government takes a narrow stance on refugee
policy both in the EU and in the UN.
The organization Transparency International placed
Poland as country number 41 out of 180 in its review of
corruption in the world in 2019, see list here.
Corruption has been prevalent in the justice system, and
cheating with EU support has been reported. The ranking
on the list was a clear improvement over previous years,
but at the same time debatable changes to the legal
system are underway. When the government acts to take
control of the judiciary, with the fight against
corruption as a pretext, the political opposition, large
parts of the Polish legal force and other EU countries
consider that citizens risk getting "out of the ashes in
the fire" (read more below and in Current policy).
Freedom of expression and media
Communist-era censorship laws and control authorities
have been abolished and freedom of the press is
guaranteed in the constitution. After democratization in
1989, new newspapers, magazines and publishers were
started. Many had roots in earlier underground releases.
The first independent newspaper, Gazeta Wyborcza
(Election Magazine), was founded before the semi-free
elections in 1989 (see Modern History). It is now
Poland's second largest daily newspaper and is owned by
Agora, the country's largest media group.
Until 1989, the Communist Party publisher RSW
Prasa-Książka-Ruch owned four-fifths of all newspapers
and magazines, most print shops, many book publishers
and the entire distribution apparatus (24,000 so-called
Ruch kiosks). Now the business has been privatized and
cut up. Privatization created controversy when political
groups competed with editorial staff and foreign media
companies to buy established newspaper companies. Today,
the press is dominated by foreign owners. German
magazine publisher Axel Springer owns the country's
largest newspaper, the tabloid fact.
The Radio and Television Act of 1993 repealed a state
monopoly on etheric media. Nowadays, the etheric media
is governed by a parliamentary council appointed. Public
service - both broadcasters and broadcasters - is
financed with both fees and advertising. In addition,
there are privately owned TV channels and a variety of
advertising-financed radio stations. International
satellite channels are not often subtitled in Polish.
The conservative government party PiS quickly passed
a new media law that caused outrage after the 2015 power
change. The law gave the finance minister the right to
dismiss all senior executives in the public service
companies. PiS said it wanted to transform the state
etheric media and the news agency PAP into "national
cultural institutions". The law was condemned by press
freedom organizations and led to Poland collapsing from
place 20 in 2015 to 49 in 2016 in Reporters without
Borders review of freedom of the press. The breed has
continued, to place 62 out of 180 in the 2020 ranking,
see list here.
Also, a law from 2016 that provides the intelligence
service and the police increased powers to collect
information from the Internet has been criticized.
Lawyers and domestic organizations fear that
source-protected information can be abused.
The use of social media is growing rapidly. The
Polish Onet is well-visited along with the large
international social media.
Judicial system and legal security
According to the Constitution, the judicial system
must be independent of the power holders and built up in
three administrative levels: district courts, appellate
courts and the Supreme Court. In addition, there is a
constitutional court whose task is to ensure that the
country's laws are in accordance with the constitution.
The courts have had insufficient financial resources
and long processing times. After the PiS party reached
governmental power in the 2015 elections, the justice
system was hit by a serious crisis when the new
parliament changed the constitutional court's
composition and working rules. The government also
pushed to influence the composition of the judiciary,
both by forcing retired judges and by taking control of
new appointments. The changes are considered within the
EU and the Council of Europe as an attempt by
politicians to take control of the judiciary. The
outside world fears that the conflict between the
government and the leading lawyers will cripple the
entire judiciary and weaken the rule of law. In recent
years, the EU has pushed Poland not to implement several
of the criticized amendments. Poland has backed down on
An indictment against a Catholic organization was set
in 2018 in higher court. The Poznan court granted a
young woman who was abused by a priest the equivalent of
SEK 2.3 million in damages and a lifetime pension. The
abuse took place when she was 13 and she got psychic but
which led to suicide attempts. The priest was arrested
in 2008 and sentenced to four years in prison. Only in
2017 was he forced to leave the priesthood. The damages
are the highest awarded against a religious institution
The last execution in Poland took place in the 1980s.
In line with the dissolution of the communist regime, a
stop was made for new executions. In the late 1990s, the
death penalty was removed from the Penal Code.
Poland's economy is coping with the crisis
Poland is the only EU country to recover from
economic recession during the year, following the
bankruptcy of US bank Lehman Brothers in the autumn of
Financial support from the IMF
The IMF approves a one-year credit of $ 20.6 billion
to Poland to help the country cope with the
international financial crisis.
Communist leader Jaruzelski is on trial
Poland's last communist leader, General Wojciech
Jaruzelski, faces trial for the martial law introduced
in 1981. The trial is postponed due to Jaruzelski's poor
Elections lead to a shift in power
Jarosław Kaczyński announces new elections for the
Sejm. PiS loses government power to the Liberal Party
Citizens' Platform (PO), whose leader
Donald Tusk becomes prime minister. LPR and Self Defense
do not pass the five percent block and fall out of
Parliament. Both parties dissolve shortly thereafter.