Poland A and B
Poland A and B (Polish: Polska "A" i "B") refers to the historical, political and cultural distinction between the western and the eastern part of the country, with Poland "A" (west of the Vistula river) being significantly more economically developed and growing faster than Poland "B", to the east of the river. The General Secretary of Krajowa Izba Gospodarcza Marek Kłoczko, said in his 2007 interview that the divisions are more spread out and forming three separate categories, Poland "A" are the metropolitan cities, Poland "B" is the rest of the country, and Poland "C" are the plains and the landscape parks east of Vistula (Poland "Z", according to Kłoczko) which require a different treatment.
Poland's well-off cities are Warszawa, Kraków, Wrocław, and Poznań, while the ones struggling with higher unemployment and less investment are Rzeszów, Lublin, Olsztyn and Białystok to the north-east.
The distinction is unofficial and in some ways oversimplified, but it is widely acknowledged and discussed in Poland. It can be thought of as analogous to the "Blue State/Red State" divide in American politics. (Here Poland "A" would be the Democratic-leaning Blue States; and Poland "B", the Republican-leaning Red States.)
Historically, the source of Poland "A" and "B" can be traced to the period of the partitions of Poland, and different policies of the partitioners, which resulted in a much larger industrial development of the Prussian partition, compared to the Austrian and Russian partitions (including the so-called eastern Kresy) where the imperial exploitation policies were rampant.
In this divide it has to be noted that Poland's borders were changing over the centuries. They moved westward after 1945, to reflect the Poland of the Piasts and the Poland of Jagiellonians. For instance, Warsaw was initially a settlement in eastern Poland. When it became a capital city in the 16th century, and historically in the developed as a central part of the Kingdom of Poland (the Crown), later western-central part of the Commonwealth. Now is situated in the central-eastern part of it. The slower growing western provinces are often former German regions which were already densely populated and well-developed in terms of infrastructure and industry before 1945, now populated mostly by Poles from the former Eastern Polish regions. For example the above-mentioned Olsztyn was part of Prussia since the times of the Teutonic Knights.
The difference between Poland's "A" and "B" is particularly evident in the voting patterns of the two regions. During the 1990s, Poland "A" tended to favour the Democratic Left Alliance (Sojusz Lewicy Demokratycznej, or SLD), as a secular, socially liberal party. Poland "B" on the other hand voted either PSL (economically left-wing but socially conservative) or the Solidarity (″right-wing″) camp (socially conservative). Since c. 2005, Poland saw a realignment in its political system. Residents of Poland "A" (incl. the city of Warsaw in Poland "B") have supported the liberal conservative and currently ruling political party, the Civic Platform. Residents of Poland "B", on the other hand, tend to support the socially conservative and right wing Law and Justice party.
After a 2010 plane crash took the life of president Lech Kaczyński, his wife, and dozens of important Polish politicians, mostly conservative, the country briefly came together to mourn. However, the underlying fissures, mutual suspicions, and recriminations between Poland "A" and Poland "B" soon resurfaced.
- Iwona Borkowska, Polska Polsce nierówna, Raport Polska.pl 2008-06-04. Internet Archive. Retrieved December 16, 2014.
- Wiesław Samecki, Ekonomia 3: Centralny Okręg Przemysłowy 1936-1939, Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Wrocławskiego, 1998, ISBN 83-229-1634-5. Introduction.
- Amy Drozdowska-McGuire, reporter: "Solidarity For Never", originally broadcast on Public Radio program This American Life, Dec. 16, 2011.
- Kozak M., Pyszkowski A., Szewczyk R. (red.) 2001, Słownik Rozwoju Regionalnego, PARR, Warszawa.
- Iwona Borkowska, Polska Polsce nierówna, Raport Polska.pl 2008-06-04. Internet Archive.
- Gazeta Wyborcza (1999) 'Polska A, B i C' (Poland A, B and C), August 4