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 (The Province of Pomerania)
Area: 65,397 km2
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.
Area: 61,780 km2
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).
Area: 73,996 km2
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 (The Province of Silesia)
Area: 41,654 km2
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 (The Province of Lesser Poland)
Area: 69,857 km2
The new Province of Małopolska would incorporate województwo małopolskie (Province of Lesser Poland), świętokrzyskie (Świętokrzyskie Province), podkarpackie (Subcarpathian Province) and lubelskie (Lublin Province).
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.
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.