Federal Republic of Poland

Rzeczpospolita Polska Federalna A few years ago I had an enthralling discussion with an historian, a proponent of a federal model of national administration. In time, I have come round to this view of thinking. Obviously, the federal system does not work for all countries and states but there is much to be said for this system in the case of Poland.

Why a Federal Poland?

Poland desperately suffers from chronic centralisation. Poland’s current provinces lack the political clout to force through decisions that might have a direct influence on the situation within that area. The divisions put forward here are based on the historical regions of Poland which have been superimposed on the current provinces. The larger województwa or prowincje most importantly divide the population of the country into five roughly equal parts in terms of population. The future federal divisions would look something like this:

Pomorze

Pomorze (The Province of Pomerania)

Herb województwa pomorskiego Area: 65,397 km2
Population: 5,313,876

The new Province of Pomerania would include województwo zachodniopomorskie (West Pomeranian Province), pomorskie (Pomeranian Province) which is a logical step, but additionally it would be expanded by warmińsko-mazurskie (Warmian-Masurian Province) in order to bring money to this area.

Wielkopolska
Wielkopolska
(The Province of Greater Poland)

Herb województwa wielkopolskiegoArea: 61,780 km2
Population: 6,449,345

The new Province of Greater Poland would include most of the historical Wielkopolska covered by województwo wielkopolskie (Province of Greater Poland), lubuskie (Lubusz Province) and kujawsko-pomorskie (Kuyavian-Pomeranian Province).

Mazowsze
Mazowsze (The Province of Mazovia)

Herb województwa mazowieckiegoArea: 73,996 km2
Population: 8,937,946

The new Province of Mazovia could be controversial bringing together województwo mazowieckie (Mazovian Province) and województwo łódzkie (Łódź Province). It would also include województwo podlaskie (Podlasie Province).

Śląsk


Śląsk
(The Province of Silesia)

Herb województwa śląskiegoArea: 41,654 km2
Population: 8,658,881

The new Province of Silesia is not problematic from a historical point of view incorporating województwo dolnośląskie (Lower Silesian Province), śląskie (Silesian Province) and opolskie (Opole Province), however, local rivalries may make life difficult to begin with.

Małopolska


Małopolska
(The Province of Lesser Poland)

Herb województwa małopolskiegoArea: 69,857 km2
Population: 8,832,967

The new Province of Małopolska would incorporate województwo małopolskie (Province of Lesser Poland), świętokrzyskie (Świętokrzyskie Province), podkarpackie (Subcarpathian Province) and lubelskie (Lublin Province).

Equal Opportunities

The largest province in terms of area and population would be Mazowsze which includes Podlasie (in order to rejuvenate the area). The smallest province would be Silesia in terms of size and Pomorze in terms of population. The most important element in these new divisions would be the fact that poorer regions would be ‘tagged onto’ richer areas, for example, Podlasie joining Warsaw and Łódź, Warmia & Mazury would be attached to Pomorze and the Podkarpackie (Subcarpathian) and Lublin areas would adjoin Kraków.

Local Politics

Perhaps decentralisation would pull Polish politicians away from ‘big table’ politics and push them towards working directly with local authorities whose mandate would be fundamentally local. Poland has for many years suffered from fractious and fractured politics which have created a divisive political environment not conducive to cooperation and ironically, the spirit of solidarity.

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13 Responses to Federal Republic of Poland

  1. Ewa says:

    What an interesting idea! I’ve just come from the launch of a new book about the past and future Krakow (where I live) and the debate was all about what needs to be done now to create a Krakow for the 21st century. All the ideas were top down – at no point did any of the luminaries talk about working with the inhabitants to shape the future. I found it quite sad. Anything that helps local government to be truly local would be a great thing.

  2. darthsida says:

    Just an addendum:
    A small step in the right direction, south of heaven.
    Then we take Manhattan. Then we take Berlin.

  3. Raf Uzar says:

    Ewa,
    Thanks! A debate is most certainly needed.
    Darth,
    Nice one! 🙂

  4. Jim says:

    Haven’t I been saying this for years? Next step, Euroregions; Silesia has more in common with Ostrava and the Czech filth belt than with Warsaw, and places like Zgorzelec/Görllitz would undergo an economic regeneration they both need… if they can overcome their historical antagonisms.

  5. Raf Uzar says:

    Historical antagonisms always seem to be the problem. Your idealism is fine but I think if this kind of concept is to have any success we have to stay clear of the Euro-region rhetoric so as not to scare off the Joe Bloggs/Jan Kowalskis of this Euro-sceptical world. A federal Poland does not necessarily have to be a step towards a federal Europe.

  6. martiga says:

    And then of course there is The Province of Greater Britain 😉

  7. Raf Uzar says:

    Even though the idea of a United Europe is great, I am, more than ever, set against it because of the negativity that the United Europe debate seems to encourage.

  8. pawel_b says:

    hmm.. that’s an interesting idea. I am wondering what the people would say about that, e.g. if a referendum was conducted. I am afraid, most would be against any changes.. because this would be a HUGE change.. but we need it, right?

  9. Raf Uzar says:

    Most people would probably be against it, yes. But that’s why democracies don’t always work…

  10. Pajacyk says:

    aj don Łont to be in my Province! don’like my Nej… neighbours.
    and specially Mr. Szafiak izn’t good for me…
    a want go to Khasakstan! witk Borat!
    and blame Canada!

  11. Raf Uzar says:

    Who’s Mr Szafiak?

  12. Beirut al-Salam says:

    I think this is a good idea. I think a federal Poland is a step in the right direction where decentralization is concerned and would encourage more bottom up rather than Soviet-style top down governance. What I will say is that I find the idea antithetical to the EU. All evidence and all operating conceptions of Europe as a federation are opposed to bottom up structure and prefer more centralized decision making and about the most absurd of subjects. People aren’t necessarily opposed to Europe. They’re opposed to a bureaucratic class with no skin in the game running the show. Furthermore, I think that the notion of a federal Europe has been discredited by the numerous crises that have occurred since you made this post. The euro crisis (no common currency), the migrant crisis (no Schengen zone), the Ukrainian crisis (no common foreign policy or interests and too many different and opposed geopolitical forces), the lack of energy solidarity (Germany continues to make deals with Russia that threaten Poland), hegemonic German ambition (no partnership), the linear voting vs. square root voting (no collaboration), etc, etc. The project is dead and realists and analysts already know this (e.g., George Friedman), and don’t ask IF the EU will collapse or shrink, but when. A more sensible conception for Poland and the region is a union of the Intermarium variety. Such a union need not be formalized as such, but could be manifested in a series of treaties that bolster a de facto union based on common regional and geopolitical interests. The entire band of countries from Finland to Croatia rests on a geopolitical fault line between the two tectonic plates that are Germany and Russia. It has always been bad news for the region whenever these countries become too powerful and are not balanced by, say, a powerful Poland which is something Poland does have the potential to become in the region. The federal model above must work to enhance regional prosperity, decentralization of power where local issues are concerned and as a way to empower regions to operate independently in regional matters. Decentralization should also reduce the cronyism that is rampant in Warsaw. By keeping things as local as possible, accountability increases as does skin in the game. The principle of subsidiary ought to be respected. To bind the regions to each other and with the federal government also requires skin in the game. Also, while the Church can be problematic, it is a necessary component of every society for maintaining moral norms (the government should not be experimenting with them and no other authority makes sense; the merger of church and state as in the Protestant countries was a disaster; the Church has always maintained a distinction between Church and State, though not a separation which it regards as, shall we say, an imperfect though in some cases a tolerable state of affairs provided certain provisions are in place). Furthermore, the vacuum created by the ouster of religious authority has universally produced disaster in history (horror vacui). It can only be replaced with something better and nothing better exists. The role of the Church should not be overbearing (and certainly not of the provincial Polish priest prince variety, but likewise not the clownish modernist variety either). Socialism must go as must crony capitalism, both are rotten. The regions above can compete to give impetus to growth, but only within properly set parameters that lead to a better good for these regions and the entire country.

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