63. Decentralization and Regionalization after Communism: Lessons from Administrative and Territorial Reform in Poland and the Czech RepublicJul 07, 2011
While the regional level of authority has gained much attention in recent years in Western Europe, Eastern Europe is still emerging from decades of centralization and homogenization under communism. Several post-communist countries, however, have taken steps toward administrative decentralization and territorial regionalization. This article explores possible reasons for taking these steps and traces the progress of administrative and territorial reform in two post-communist cases: Poland and the Czech Republic. The conclusion considers several implications of these reforms for domestic politics and foreign relations.
The Polish United Workers' Party (PUWP) believed television had a specific function in socialist society. November 1997 - From the earliest days of the medium, party leaders sought to use TV as a vehicle to transmit socialism to the masses. They found out, however, that television was a very problematic device. The inability to control television fully and completely (try though the party may), and perhaps more importantly, the party's misunderstanding of the myriad functions of TV in society, prevented it from achieving its goals. In fact, one can even suggest that the government's television policy was a contributing factor in the collapse of the Polish socialist state.
This paper analyzes the disintegration of communism in Poland and the formation of a new socio-economic and political system. The actions of political elites have been pivotal in this process. One of the basic conclusions of the analysis that follows is that, because of the weak articulation of the structures of civil society, political elites were not subjected to precise social demands and pressures.
May 2000 - In its essentials, Poland was an East European communist country like any other. Like its fellow Soviet-bloc members, Poland had distinctive features, but its path to 1989 is best explained in terms of specific developments over the previous decade. Under repression since 1981, Solidarity had proved its staying power as the regime's necessary negotiating partner. Conversely the economic reforms of the 1980s had failed in their main objective - to bypass Solidarity. By creating some nomenklatura capitalism however, these economic reforms instilled in the communists the confidence that they could subsist in a Poland they did not entirely control. Consequently, the communist elite could genuinely negotiate with Solidarity. Both sides felt the need but also the strength to compromise.
The Polish nation had experienced both Nazism and communism. These were not equal experiences, and social memory about them differs to a considerable degree. In order to perform such an operation, it would be necessary to halt history in June 1941. Since it is impossible to stop history in order to examine the period from mid-September 1939 to June 1941, it is helpful, as this article does, to study Polish recollections of their experiences so as to understand their continued impact on national history and memory.
Fidelity to traditional values has generated a peculiar approach to politics as such throughout Eastern Europe. The author found in Poland that the criteria people used to judge political excellence, or political leadership, had little to do with programs and performance, and almost everything to do with morals and ethics. Poles tended to judge leaders not by whether they were or were likely to be effective at moving the country in a given direction, but by whether they were good or bad men: decent or indecent, strong or weak, kind or brutal, loyal or disloyal. The author's conclusion was that this moralization of politics made swinstwo--swinishness--the primary category for political condemnation. This paper then analyzes this phenomenon throughout the region as a whole.
February 1997 - Observers of Polish Politics may feel a strong sense of déja vu. Like the historic election of 1989 which precipitated the collapse of Communist regimes across Eastern Europe, Solidarity emerged victorious from the parliamentary elections of September 1997, a showdown between the former Communists and the Electoral Action Solidarity (AWS). The AWS, a coalition of the trade union "Solidarity" and several minor parties, won decidedly, with 33.8% of the votes and 201 of the 460 seats in the Sejm. The post-Communist Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) finished second with 27.1% of the votes and 164 seats. A distant third was the Freedom Union (UW) party, dominated by the former Solidarity intellectual elite, with 13.4% of the votes and 60 seats. It was followed by the Polish Peasant Party (PSL), the 1993-97 coalition partner of the SLD (7.3% and 27 seats), and the Movement for the Rebirth of Poland, another party with Solidarity roots (5.6% and 6 seats). The remaining two seats were won by the Silesian Germans, exempt from the 5% threshold as a national minority. Among those who didn't clear the threshold was the leftist Labor Union (UP) with 4.7%.
This paper was written to analyze the sixth of August 1990 as an important date in the history of Polish-German relations. It was on this day that Chancellor Helmut Kohl told a huge gathering of expellees from the former German territories now part of Poland that their homeland had been lost forever. The border with Poland was final and would not be undermined by any German territorial claims now or in the future. This paper examines both the road to reconciliation as well as long term prospects following the settlement.
279. Leading the Way to Regionalization in East Central Europe: An Evaluation of Poland's Territorial and Administrative ReformsJul 07, 2011
October 2003 - In 1998, elections were held in Poland to create regional councils. Soon afterwards, similar elections were held in the Czech Republic (2000) and Slovakia (2002). This trend invites many questions: Why have these East Central European countries established regions and regional political authorities? What factors drove this process of region-building? What explains variance in region-building across post-communist countries? Why has Poland taken the first and the most significant steps toward regionalization? My approach to answering these questions is to consider a number of factors and incentives that drive the regional reform processes in post-communist countries in general and to examine the Polish case in particular.
December 1997 - Speaking at a Noon Discussion, Krzysztof Jasiewicz reminded his audience that it was exactly fifteen years ago, on December 13, 1981, that General Wojciech Jaruzelski imposed martial law in Poland in order to suppress Solidarity. If someone had told him then that in fifteen years Aleksander Kwasniewski would be president of Poland, Jasiewicz would have said, "Oh, sure, that's quite likely. If Jaruzelski dies, and Mieczyslaw Rakowski dies, then Kwasniewski is a likely candidate for succession." If, however, someone had told him that between Jaruzelski and Kwasniewski's tenures, the presidency would belong to Lech Walesa, he would have been mystified. What has in fact happened is proof for Jasiewicz that the totalitarian model of succession has been fully replaced by the mechanisms of pluralist democracy.