Corruption in Poland is below the world average but not insignificant. Within Poland, surveys of Polish citizens reveal that it is perceived to be a major problem.


In the early 1920s, during the first years of the Second Polish Republic, Polish institutions were plagued by endemic corruption,[1] and several of the governments of the day were accused of widespread corruption, very likely with a sound cause.[2] Between 1923 and 1926, Józef Piłsudski came to conclude that the system which he dubbed "Sejmocracy" fostered general corruption, ultimately leading him to launch the May Coup and seize power.[3] His byword Sanation referred to the cleansing he promised to introduce, in contrast to his predecessors' shady practices.[4]

However, once in power, his allies uncovered very few cases of corruption in past governments; persistent references to mass corruption amounted to a type of "primitive propaganda", in the words of historian Andrzej Garlicki. Later, it was Piłsudskiites who became embroiled in a well-publicized scandal revolving around election budgets, the Czechowicz Affair.[5] By the 1930s, the country had developed an economic model involving nationalised industry, with key industries in government hands. While this fostered growth in vital areas, it also gave rise to inefficiency and corruption. Private businesses found it hard to compete directly with state-owned concerns, in particular for public contracts.[6]

In the communist People's Republic of Poland, corruption was widespread, particularly by Polish United Workers Party officials (see nomenklatura).[7][8][9] Corruption under the communist regime was so pervasive that some scholars have referred to the system as "legalized corruption".[10]

Recent era[edit]

Global Integrity 2010 report gave Poland the score of 80 out of 100 assessing the legal framework as 86 (strong) and actual implementation as 71 (moderate).[11] The report scored Poland particularly well (score of 90) in categories for "Non-Governmental Organizations, Public Information and Media" and "Elections", and particularly low in the category for "Public Administration and Professionalism" (score of 59).[11]

The Supreme Audit Office (NIK) offices.

A 2011 report by the Institute of Public Affairs also criticized the standards of public life in Poland, and the prevalence of nepotism and cronyism.[12]

A 2012 report jointly prepared by from the Institute of Public Affairs (ISP) and Transparency International (TI) notes that the corruption in Poland is lower than in the past when in the mid-1990s it was "a phenomenon of a systemic nature".[13] As described in that report, the World Bank Worldwide Governance Indicators (accessible here [1]) for "rule of law" and "control of corruption" show steady improvement for Poland.[13] Poland has joined the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention in 2000, implementing relevant legislation in 2001.[14] Poland has also made significant progress in combating corruption like the establishment of the Central Anti-Corruption Bureau and the first anti-corruption strategy which was adopted in 2002.[13]

The 2012 report from the ISP and TI, reviewing individual Polish anti-corruption institution, praised the Supreme Audit Office (NIK), followed by the Polish Ombudsman (RPO).[13] It criticized the civil society, the private sector, and the executive and public administration of insufficient efforts in fighting corruption.[13] Poland's watchdog organisations are considered weak in combating corruption, and corruption allegations often appear in government contracting and permit issuance.[12][15]

The 2012 report from the ISP and TI praised the overall direction of the anti-corruption efforts in Poland, noting that they are "bringing noticeable results", but noted that those efforts, particularly from the public authorities, are "rather chaotic, sometimes contradictory or even controversial". It concluded that "corruption in Poland still entails considerable risks" and "the level of anti-corruption protection is unsatisfactory".[13] A 2013 OECD report analyzing the implementation of the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention concluded that "the current Polish framework for fighting foreign bribery is still inadequate".[16]

A 2013 survey in Poland found that 83% of surveyed Polish citizens think that corruption is a major problem for their country, particularly prevalent among politicians (62 percent) and in the health-care sector (53 percent). A growing number of citizens (57%) is concerned that there is no political will to fight corruption.[17]

On TI's 2021 Corruption Perceptions Index, Poland scored 56 on a scale from 0 ("highly corrupt") to 100 ("highly clean"). When ranked by score, Poland ranked 42nd among the 180 countries in the Index, where the country ranked first is perceived to have the most honest public sector. [18] For comparison, the best score was 88 (ranked 1), and the worst score was 11 (ranked 180).[19]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Halik Kochanski (2012). The Eagle Unbowed: Poland and the Poles in the Second World War. Harvard University Press. p. 25. ISBN 978-0-674068-16-2.
  2. ^ Mieczysław B. Biskupski (2000). The History of Poland. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 77. ISBN 978-0-313305-71-9.
  3. ^ Piotr J. Wróbel (2010). The Origins of Modern Polish Democracy. Ohio University Press. p. 154. ISBN 978-0-821443-09-5.
  4. ^ Aristotle Kallis (2008). Genocide and Fascism: The Eliminationist Drive in Fascist Europe. Routledge. p. 124. ISBN 978-0-203449-36-3.
  5. ^ Eva Plach (2006). The Clash of Moral Nations: Cultural Politics in Piłsudski's Poland, 1926-1935. Ohio University Press. pp. 60–61. ISBN 978-0-821416-95-2.
  6. ^ John Radzilowski (2007). A Traveller's History of Poland. Interlink Books. p. 183. ISBN 978-1-566566-55-1.
  7. ^ Jack M. Bloom (13 September 2013). Seeing Through the Eyes of the Polish Revolution: Solidarity and the Struggle Against Communism in Poland. BRILL. pp. 17–19. ISBN 978-90-04-25276-9.
  8. ^ Marek Jan Chodakiewicz; John Radzilowski; Dariusz Tolczyk (2003). Poland's Transformation: A Work in Progress : Studies in Honor of Kenneth W. Thompson. Transaction Publishers. pp. 132–133. ISBN 978-1-4128-3096-6.
  9. ^ Tarkowski, J. (1 July 1989). "Old and New Patterns of Corruption in Poland and the USSR". Telos. 1989 (80): 51–62. doi:10.3817/0689080051. S2CID 146882607.
  10. ^ Xiaobo Lü (2000). Cadres and Corruption: The Organizational Involution of the Chinese Communist Party. Stanford University Press. p. 242. ISBN 978-0-8047-6448-3.
  11. ^ a b "Global Integrity Report 2010- Poland". Global Integrity. Global Integrity. Archived from the original on 18 November 2013. Retrieved 17 November 2013.
  12. ^ a b "Press releases - Polish institutions prone to corruption". 5 March 2012. Retrieved 18 November 2013.
  13. ^ a b c d e f Susanne Kuehn (5 March 2012). "National integrity system assessments - Poland 2012". Retrieved 18 November 2013.
  14. ^ "Poland:- Poland - OECD Anti-Bribery Convention - Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development". Retrieved 18 November 2013.
  15. ^ "Snapshot of the Poland Country Profile". Business Anti-Corruption Portal. GAN Integrity Solutions. Archived from the original on 10 November 2013. Retrieved 17 November 2013.
  16. ^ "Bribery in international business - Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development". 20 June 2013. Retrieved 18 November 2013.
  17. ^ "Poles see significant corruption in Poland - Warsaw Business Journal - Online Portal". 25 July 2013. Archived from the original on 7 April 2014. Retrieved 18 November 2013.
  18. ^ "The ABCs of the CPI: How the Corruption Perceptions Index is calculated". Retrieved 24 November 2022.
  19. ^ "Corruption Perceptions Index 2021: Poland". Retrieved 3 December 2022.

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