The Polish Economy: Legacies from the Past, Prospects for the Future

The Polish Economy: Legacies from the Past, Prospects for the Future

The Polish Economy: Legacies from the Past, Prospects for the Future

The Polish Economy: Legacies from the Past, Prospects for the Future


Economic reform measures introduced in Poland have been the most radical and ambitious in the newly free countries of Eastern Europe. In a short time that country has moved from a centrally planned economy to a free-market system. The ramifications and implications of these economic reforms are influencing economic thought and planning in other recently liberalized, formerly communist societies. Shen asserts that measures taken to transform the Polish economy should be implemented over time rather than overnight, and should be moderate rather than radical.


For historical reasons, the Polish people in general and the rural population in particular are not fond of governments, especially those perceived to constrain freedom and dictate activities. the memory of serfdom lingers, and the Communist government of Poland was perceived as such. It had been structured after the Soviet model (Johann interview, 1990). By constitution, supreme power was vested in the working people, whose interests and concerns were represented by a deputy whom they elected to the Sejm (Parliament.). the process of nominating and electing deputies was a bone of contention between the Communist government and Solidarity. It was through roundtable negotiations in February 1989 that free elections were finally made possible.

Before these negotiations, Poland had the equivalent of the legislative, executive, and judiciary branches of government parallel to many Western governments. the functions of these three respective branches of government, unlike those in the West, were not distinct--all three branches were under the influence and direction of the Communist party. This was particularly true concerning issues of vital interest to the party. the justification was that the constitution had mandated the party as the guiding force of state affairs.

Comparable to government structure of the West, the legislative branch was the Sejm, with a chamber of 460 elected deputies. in name, deputies were counterparts to congressmen and senators in the United States or to members of the Parliament in England or Canada. Unlike the West, legislation was not initiated from an individual or a group of deputies. It was introduced by the Council of State, which served as a conduit for the concerns of the party.

The Council of State operated as a collective presidency, somewhat comparable to the executive branch of a Western government. Its chairman, four deputy chairmen, and council members were elected from among Sejm . . .

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