Poland. According to
CountryAAH, the total population in Poland is 37,846,622 people in 2020. Prime Minister Leszek Miller resigned in March as
leader of the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) after his party
collapsed in opinion polls. When nearly 30 MPs left SLD to
form a new party, Miller announced that he would step down
as head of government as well. The high unemployment rate of
around 20%, several corruption scandals and failed health
care reforms had lowered confidence in the government to a
very low level. Miller chose to resign the day after Poland
joined the EU on May 1.
President Aleksander Kwaśniewski nominated former Finance
Minister Marek Belka as new Prime Minister. The
foreign-educated economist Belka had most recently served as
chief adviser on the economic reconstruction of Iraq. As one
of America's most faithful allies in Iraq, Poland led a
multinational force in the southern part of the country.
Around 2,400 Polish soldiers were stationed in Iraq. Marek
Belka barely had a job as head of government before he lost
a vote in parliament in mid-May and was forced to resign.
The majority in Parliament demanded a fresh election, but
President Kwaśniewski reappointed him as prime minister.
Belka's left-wing government was finally approved by
Parliament in June. Seven of Miller's government ministers
remained in Belka's cabinet.
In Poland's first elections to the European Parliament,
the SLD government party received very low support and took
only five of Poland's 54 seats. The Liberal Citizens'
Platform succeeded best with 15 mandates, while the
EU-critical parties Self-Defense and the Polish Families
Alliance together took 16 mandates.
In June, Jacek Kuroń, who in the 1980s, was a key figure
behind the democracy movement in Poland. He co-founded the
free trade union movement Solidarity and staged the talks
between the opposition and the regime in 1989 that paved the
way for the fall of communism in Poland and throughout
Eastern Europe. Jacek Kuroń turned 70.
This year's autumn storms had severe consequences in
Poland. About ten people were killed in the unusually strong
storms that advanced across the country. Among those killed
was a six-month-old child who received a falling tree over
his pram in a park in Warsaw.
President Kwaśniewski was given a prominent international
role at the end of the year, when he successfully acted as a
mediator in the political crisis that arose in neighboring
Ukraine after the November presidential election there.
By the outbreak of the war in September 1939, the old,
deep internal divisions had been forgotten. The Poles fought
valiantly. The military was strong, but completely outdated.
Socially and economically, Poland was also weak at the
outbreak of the war. The country had not recovered after the
world crisis, and despite certain attempts at
industrialization and planning economy - the construction of
the port city of Gdynia and the central Polish industrial
zone - Poland was still a backward agricultural country at
the outbreak of the war.
World War II became the biggest disaster in Polish
history. It required six million deaths - half of them of
Jewish descent. Warsaw was totally destroyed after a tragic
uprising in 1944. In collaboration with the London
government, an impressive resistance movement was developed
under the civilian leadership, with the National Army as a
military body. During these years, when the Poles hovered in
daily danger, they succeeded in building an illegal
counter-state with schools, universities and even a thriving
illegal cultural life. Part of the prize was legal
demoralization. Black stock exchange and economic sabotage
were used, which had unfortunate consequences for post-war
From 1942 a communist resistance movement arose. Its
trump card was the support of the Russians. However, the
experiences of the hard Stalinist occupation of the East
Pole (1939-41) were not forgotten, and the communists
remained a small minority among a people who continued to
see with the deepest skepticism of the neighbor in the east.
Also, the attempt to liberate the capital before it
through the Warsaw uprising. red army moved in ended with
defeat - i.a. because the Russians did not support the
uprising. An important part of the young non-communist elite
died, and the real power base slipped over to the left-wing
Lublin government, which was established on July 22, 1944.
Despite Russian assaults - especially against activists in
the National Army - the Lublin government's public-front
policy yielded results. Under the leadership of Wladislaw
Gomulka and the later Polish leader of the Stalinist period
(1948-55), Boleslaw Bierut, in the first period the
government pursued a relatively open policy and gained ever
wider support. The big industry was nationalized.