A long way
Although similar bill proposals have been made three times already – in 2010 and 2012 by sejm deputies and in 2014 by a citizen initiative with 140 thousand signatures – and would always be rejected during the earliest stages of parliamentary procedures, the idea is making a comeback.
As announced in advance, after a series of debates in Silesia and a debate and an exposition in Warsaw, Nowoczesna (ALDE) has put forward a bill project that aims to bring rights of Silesians on par with those enjoyed by Kashubians, whose language was recognised as a regional one in 2005.
An ethnic minority?
What makes this project different from the previous ones is that it omits the question of recognising Silesians as an ethnic minority, which the Law and Justice government was strongly against, considering Silesians to be a part of the Polish nation. Such recognition would, amongst others, allow Silesian minority parties to get into Sejm without passing the 5% electoral threshold.
As can be read in the reasoning of the previous project’s rejection, according to the authorities, “One cannot speak of the existence of contemporary, separate from Polish, culture of Silesia and citizens inhabiting it”. The project was also accused of an ability to cause “negative social consequences”.
Citizens feel differently
The opinion of authorities is not reflected in demographic data. In the 2011 census, 817 thousands Polish citizens named “Silesian” as their nationality, with 362 thousands not listing any other.
509 thousands declared using Silesian at home.