Poland A and B
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Poland A and B (Polish: Polska "A" i "B") refers to the historical, political, and cultural distinction between west and east areas of Poland, with the west (Poland "A") being significantly more economically developed, but growing less quickly than the east (Poland "B"). Poland "B" tends to be more traditionalist, religious and inward-looking, towards Central Europe, oriented particularly towards other Visegrád countries, with little trust towards Germany and Russia; while Poland "A" is more cosmopolitan, tending to see Poland as an integral part of Western Europe.
Poland "A" cities are: Poznań (the city in the region where the Polish statehood begun), Wrocław, Katowice (a major industrial city), while Poland "B": Łódź (a historical centre of industrial revolution in Poland), Warsaw (the capital city) and Kraków (a cultural capital of Poland).
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 (Poland A), compared to the Austrian and Russian partitions (Poland B).
At the moment, the development of Poland "B" runs faster, than Poland "A". The Poland "A" provinces (except Lower Silesia) have slower growth of the GDP and higher level of unemployment than Poland "B" (also called Eastern Poland). Several cities in the Eastern Poland have a sustainable good economy and level of development (e.g., Olsztyn and Rzeszów are on the top of rankings estimating living standard)[dubious ].
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 after the partitions of Poland.
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.
- 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.
- Polska Polsce nierówna, 2008-06-04
- Gazeta Wyborcza (1999) 'Polska A, B i C' (Poland A, B and C), August 4