Poland and Polish Discussion Group and Forum

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The Polish miracle

An article from Warsaw Business summing up much of what has been said on this discussion group

The Polish miracle

A miracle has taken place in Poland. In the space of barely a year, the average age of people living in this country has increased by three years, unemployment has fallen by four percent, while economists have unanimously announced that the reign of the employer is over - employees can now pick and choose job offers.

The Kaczyński brothers' party immediately claimed credit for this miracle, trying to persuade the public that the miracle occurred thanks to their marvellous government, wise reforms and firm decisions.

The disappearing crowd

Unfortunately this miracle is only a delusion. After Poland's accession to the European Union and the subsequent opening up of European labor markets, hundreds of thousands of Poles have left to work abroad. It is logical then that as unemployment drops, both salaries and the number of job offers from employers go up. Recent EU forecasts are ominous for Polish employers: During the next year, the unemployment rate in Poland may fall to 10 percent, and it will be increasingly difficult to find employees, especially young professionals.

No one in Poland knows what the scale of the recent economic migration is. Specialists have so far come up with widely differing numbers - from half a million to two million inhabitants have left. Even more astonishing are the public-opinion surveys. According to the SMG/KRC Institute, every fourth Pole would like to emigrate. Other surveys show that as many as half of Poles aged between 18-24 do not want to work in their country.

The vanishing crowd is not a result of an economic miracle. The very people abandoning Poland are young, energetic and educated, who do not see any future for themselves in "Kaczyńskistan."

The words of Prime Minister Kaczyński about an economic miracle were superbly commented upon by the leader of the opposition, Donald Tusk: "Prime Minister, during the 10 minutes of your address, 11 people have emigrated from Poland," he said. The opposition is also trying to make political capital out of the phenomenon. In Poland the very word has bad connotations.

A terrible word: emigration

Presented historically, emigration was always a great misfortune for Poland. It had two tragic origins - firstly those who were forced to leave here by everyday hunger. Secondly the dramatic political emigration, which has endured in Poland since the 19th century. The greatest Polish writers and poets wrote in exile - from the Romantics to the Noble Prize winner Czesław Miłosz. Dissidents, aristocrats and intellectuals fled as groups which were persecuted both during the partitions and under the communist regime. They left forever and by and large did not have the possibility to return. Therefore, it indeed would suffice to accuse the governing team that "a large part of the population is being forced to emigrate" to see the support for the Kaczyński brothers fall by several percentage points.

However, in reality the current wave of emigration is a completely new and distinct phenomenon. Firstly this is not "leaving forever." Budget airlines mean that the new emigrants can come to Poland even for a short weekend, thanks to mobile phones they can contact their families at any time, and many start and end their day in front of a computer, on which they catch up on news from Poland, write on Polish blogs and send e-mails to their friends. Many of them also state that they want to earn money in order to return home and set up their own businesses. Polish banks are triumphantly opening new branches in the EU-15 (the 15 countries which were EU member states prior to 2004) and the stream of money is increasingly broad. Will Poland follow in the footsteps of Ireland, where many people from the post-war wave of emigration returned and then contributed to the economic development and modernisation of the country?

Political incorrectness

No one can yet predict the scale of the return, but the Irish model need not necessarily repeat itself in Poland. All the more so, because in the countries of the EU-15, steps are being taken to encourage the Poles to stay.

This is not solely due to the growth in GDP thanks to Poles' labor. The reason could be unarticulated political incorrectness: Europe is afraid of culturally alien immigration from Islamic states, and at the same time it must maintain a certain level of immigration, if it is to continue to develop. Poles thus represent ideal candidates for citizenship. They can easily be assimilated even in the second generation, they respect democracy, and their European heritage ensures that they do not feel alienated in a new society.

However, a problem has arisen in Poland. It is already clear that it will be necessary to bring in thousands of immigrants, so the country can develop its economy and build up its infrastructure. There is money for hundreds of kilometers of highways, but it is hard to find workers to build them. Poland has also started to seek out foreign workers, especially from Ukraine. Polish employers praise them - they are educated, hard working, linguistically and culturally close, and they easily assimilate ... l

Joanna Wóycicka is the former head of the foreign section of the Życie Warszawy and Życie newspapers and the former head of the foreign department at the Polish Press Agency (PAP)

Re: The Polish miracle

when are the elections? October?

Re: The Polish miracle

PiS will likely win re-election in some form.

Saturday's newspaper had the headline of the latest PiS pleb-vote-winning slogan "Poland is not a country for the rich".

Re: The Polish miracle

Late October or early November. The vote to dissolve the government will be on Friday.

Then all hell will break loose for a month or two.

Re: The Polish miracle

This article by Joanna Wóycicka was better than the last diatribe she delivered on "Poland A" and "Poland B".
Do bear in mind she hates men generally and the brothers K. as an embodiment of Polish manhood (!!). No, don't laugh at this wimmin's studies lecturer.

Re: The Polish miracle

Ahhh - she was the Poland A and Poland B woman. I like the article, although as Angela says there's nothing new contained within.