At rank 24, Poland’s status performance has markedly increased (+3 ranks relative to SGI 2009).
Poland shows one of the largest Status Index gains of all SGI countries surveyed. Progress made in the quality of democracy and the economic realm is most prominent.
Early parliamentary elections (Oct. 2007) ended two turbulent years. Under PM Tusk, the new government operates fairly smoothly and reacted relatively swiftly to the financial crisis.
The tragic death of President Kaczyński and the election of Bronisław Komorowski (PO) brought the period of divided government to an end, making it easier for the Tusk government to continue its reforms.
The quality of democracy in Poland has clearly improved during the period under review (+8 ranks relative to SGI 2009).
The SGI 2009 identified serious flaws, including a government actively influencing the media, public media organizations showing a pro-government bias, and inefficient and politicized courts.
The new Tusk government demonstrates considerably greater respect for judicial independence, media freedom, civil rights and political liberties.
Compared to its predecessor, the Tusk government has also paid more attention to the fight against discrimination, most notably by re-establishing the office of a Plenipotentiary for Equal Treatment. Less progress was made, however, in the fight against corruption.
At rank 21, Poland’s handling of economic policy has shown strong improvement (+9 ranks relative to SGI 2009).
After a slow start, the Tusk government launched a number of ambitious reforms. Companies were privatized, FDI incentives improved and personal income tax rates cut. Thanks in part to a coherent economic policy, Poland recorded the OECD’s highest 2009 GDP growth.
Active labor market policies have yielded positive results. Self-employment has risen and long-term unemployment has fallen, but the overall employment rate is one of the OECD’s lowest. Regional disparities in unemployment rates remain large.
Budget consolidation represents the key challenge ahead. Sound fiscal policy is needed to decrease dependency on privatization revenues and EU funds, and to prepare for euro zone entry.
Poland’s rating on issues of social affairs (rank 29) remains one of the lowest in the OECD.
With the country’s health care system suffering from high deficits and a low quality of service, health care reform has been a priority of the Tusk government. However, reform efforts fell victim to President Kaczyński’s veto powers, and need to be relaunched.
The Tusk government succeeded in improving the sustainability of the pension system’s public pillar by drastically limiting the access to early retirement. A popular generous pension program for farmers was left untouched, however.
The global economic crisis exacerbated fiscal problems in the pension system’s first pillar, and triggered losses in private pension funds.
The Tusk government has successfully brought an end to Poland’s isolation within the EU. However, its international role has suffered from power struggles in foreign affairs between the government and President Kaczyński.
Internal security has improved substantially. The crime number has continued to fall, and the sense of safety has grown dramatically.
Poland’s accession to the Schengen zone in December 2007 has increased police cooperation with other EU members and helped modernize the country’s police force. However, coordination among the various organizations involved in fighting crime remains inadequate.
Poland ranks 22nd in the SGI’s resources category (+3 ranks relative to the SGI 2009).
The Tusk government has put more emphasis on environmental protection than did its predecessor, but has clearly prioritized economic goals. EU plans to reduce CO2 emissions were consistently opposed.
Poland’s R&D expenditures are low, with weak links between science and industry, but the Tusk government launched a reform aimed at strengthening R&D. Concrete effects have been limited so far.
Poland’s education system still suffers from a lack of synchronization with the labor market. A youth unemployment figure of 20% bears testimony to this problem. Vocational training is poorly developed.
Without progress in environmental issues, R&D and education, economic growth in Poland will not be sustainable.