15 Dec 2014
The Polish Transition in a Comparative Perspective
In 1989, Poland stood out as a country in chronic political and economic crisis. It had been ravaged by strikes, economic decline and default since 1976. A popular view both in Poland and abroad was that Poland was incurable. Germans talked about the polnische Wirtschaft (Polish economy), meaning dysfunctional economy, while the Swedes used the term polsk riksdag (Polish Parliament) for political disorder. Norman Davies, the great historian of Poland, called his monumental history of Poland God’s Playground because of all the disasters it has faced. He said these words “can be aptly used as an epithet for a country where fate has frequently played mischievous tricks”. Today, Poland stands out as possibly the greatest economic success among the thirty post-communist countries.