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The Transformation of Poland

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Poland People

on 21 September 2012

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Transcript of The Transformation of Poland

THE TRANSFORMATION OF POLAND HISTORY RELIGION POLITICS ECONOMICS -Before the end of the Cold War, Poland’s economy was a centrally planned socialist system
-“Stalinist Planning” resulted in a higher growth rate in “heavy industries,” like the steel industry, but neglected many other economic sectors -Little changed in the Polish economy until the end of the Cold War
-“Shock Therapy” was implemented as Poland sought economic liberalization
-Notably, Poland was the only economy in the EU to avoid the 2008-2009 depression The Polish United Workers' Party dominated the political sphere from 1948-1989, ruling under controlled elections where only the party and its allies were assured victory The Post WWII Party System Was under strict guidance from the USSR, starting immediately after WWII, though was considered to be one of the least repressive of the Eastern Block nations.
Had about 3.5 million members that ran trade unions, institutions, and social organizations Solidarity emerged as a challenge to the Communist Party unions and was able to take advantage of strained relations between workers and the party
Overall liberalization of the party afterwards could not prevent general discontent especially among trade unions leading eventually to the imposition of martial law First semi-free elections were held in 1989, with Solidarity winning virtually all seats not reserved for the PZPR
Traditional allied parties started to break off and helped to pave a quick wave towards democracy
1990 Presidential election of Lech Walsea is often seen as the official start of democracy in Poland History Of the 1980's Poland has had a struggle throughout hisory to maintain not only polish culture but also even the size of the country.

A period Significant to polish histoy was the transition period poland had to undergo during the turn of the Cold War

In the 1980’s a Polish reform movement, Solidarity, and the Catholic church, were the most prominent figures in Poland’s history that helped to create a peaceful transition from the communist state to a democracy. Once Poland transitioned from a communistic society to a democratic society, it became more engaged in the international scene
The Warsaw Pact (1955-1991) divided Europe, and Poland has been making extreme efforts to reconstruct relationships across those divisions (through signing treaties, joining international organizations, etc.) European Integration In 2007, Poland also joined the Schengen Area, which allows for free movement between Poland and its EU-member neighbors
Point of tension: Poland also serves as the eastern border of the EU; neighboring Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine, all former members of the Soviet Union (none of which have been admitted into the European Union)
Poland's location provides it with the opportunity to be a key state for trade (particularly between Western and Eastern Europe and Russia)
The open boundaries amongst Poland and the EU states further facilitate trade
Since its admission into the EU, Poland's economy has boomed In order to become a member of these organizations, Poland had to meet certain political, economic, and military requirements (such as ensuring human rights, a free market, a liberal democracy, agreeing to comply with agreed-on standards, etc.
Therefore, Poland's membership in these organizations is indicative of its completed transition out of communism and its commitment to peace, security, democracy, freedom, and cooperation Poland has been expanding its position in international affairs and is working to develop friendly relations with other states, particularly in Europe
Poland seeks further involvement and responsibility in the European community and is currently working to be eligible to adopt the euro as its official currency NATO (1999): political and military treaty to ensure security and peace amongst its members
EU (May 2004): part of the "big bang" of Eastern bloc states becoming members (symbolized the further unification of Western and Eastern Europe)
Others: UN, WTO, Council of Europe, etc. The Catholic Church Modern Day Religion Today, freedom to confess a religion is assured, allowing a plethora of different Churches in Poland, mainly Christian denominations

-Pentecostal, Jehovah Witnesses, Seventh Day Adventist, etc.
-Muslim -During the early years (1956) the Communist regime subjected churches to brutal oppression from the Stalinist state
-In the 1970’s organized democratic opposition put the Catholic church in an awkward and uncomfortable position
-1978, Cardinal Wojtyla becomes Pope John Paul II
-Solicitudo Rei Socialis waswritten
-1979, Pope John Paul II takes an eight day pilgrimage to Poland
-During the 1980s, the Roman Catholic Church played an enormous social, political, and cultural role in the Polish People’s Republic, and the fall of Communism
-The late 1980’s the Church was seen as the primary site for anti-Communist activism
-1989, Communist political leaders ask church to serve as mediators in the Round Table Talks
-The Catholic Church continues to hold very strong social and political position in Poland Transitional
period  Some 17,000 workers seized control of the Lenin Shipyard in Gdansk to protest, among other things, a recent rise in food prices.

 Their leader, Lech Walesa, had narrowly avoided arrest by secret police that morning, and had managed to scale the shipyard gate and join the workers inside. Soon, workers in 20 other area factories joined the strike in solidarity.

In September 1980, the Independent Self-Governing Trade Union Solidarity -- or NSZZ Solidarnosc -- was officially formed. The history of Poland saw new light in February of 1989, when round table talks began and ended in April of 1990 with an agreement for partly open National Assembly elections.

The agreement called for a communist president however, after two attempts, the communists failed to form governments.

President Jaruzelski asked Solidarity activist Tadeusz Mazowiecki to form a government and on September 12, Prime Minister Mazowiecki and his cabinet were approved.

Compared to other countries Poland was one of the first to begin its transition from the communist regime in the 1980’s such as Czechoslovakia which started in 1989.
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