Democratic Left Alliance

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Democratic Left Alliance
Sojusz Lewicy Demokratycznej
Leader Leszek Miller
Founded 1991 (as coalition)
15 April 1999 (as party)
Headquarters ul. Złota 9 Warsaw
Youth wing Social Democratic Youth Federation
Ideology Social democracy[1]
Political position Centre-left
International affiliation Progressive Alliance,
Socialist International
European affiliation Party of European Socialists
European Parliament group Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats
Colours Red
34 / 460
0 / 100
European Parliament
4 / 51
Regional assemblies
28 / 555
Politics of Poland
Political parties

Democratic Left Alliance (Polish: Sojusz Lewicy Demokratycznej, SLD) is a social-democratic[2][3][4] political party in Poland. Formed in 1991 as an electoral alliance of centre-left parties, it was formally established as a single party on 15 April 1999. It is currently the third largest opposition party in Poland.


Communist roots[edit]

Many SLD politicians have their roots in the communist regime of the People's Republic of Poland. Most of the members who established the party in 1999 had previously been members of the Social Democracy of the Republic of Poland (SdRP) and the Polish Social Democratic Union, the two parties that were formed out of the remains of the Polish United Workers' Party (PZPR).

Ideology and support patterns[edit]

The coalition can be classified as left-wing, however, during the 1990s, it managed to attract voters from the pro-market and even right-wing camp.[5] The main support for SLD came from middle-rank state sector employees, retired people, former PZPR and OPZZ members and those who were unlikely to be frequent church-goers.[6] The core of the coalition (Social Democracy of the Republic of Poland) rejected concepts such as lustration and de-communization, supported a parliamentarian regime with only the role of an arbiter for the president and criticized the right-wing camp for introduction of religious education into school.[7] The excommunists criticized the economic reforms, pointing to the high social costs, without negating the reforms per se.


SdRP, SDU and some other socialist and social-democratic parties had formed the original Democratic Left Alliance as a centre-left coalition just prior to the nation's first free elections in 1991. In 1999 the coalition became a party, but lost some members.

At the time, the coalition's membership drew mostly from the former PZPR. An alliance between the SLD and the Polish People's Party ruled Poland in the years 1993–1997. However the coalition lost power to the right-wing Solidarity Electoral Action in the 1997 election as the right-wing opposition was united this time and because of the decline of support for SLD's coalition partner PSL, though the SLD itself actually gained votes.

Electoral victory[edit]

SLD formed a coalition with Labour Union before the 2001 Polish election and won it overwhelmingly at last by capturing about 5.3 million votes, 42% of the whole and won 200 of 460 seats in the Sejm and 75 of 100 in the Senate. After the elections, the coalition was joined by the Polish People's Party (PSL) in forming a government and Leszek Miller became the Prime Minister. In March 2003, the PSL left the coalition.


By 2004 the support for SLD in the polls had dropped from about 30% to just below 10%, and several high-ranking party members had been accused of taking part in high profile political scandals by the mainstream press (most notably the Rywin affair: Rywin-gate).

On 6 March 2004, Leszek Miller resigned as party leader and was replaced by Krzysztof Janik. On March 26 the Sejm speaker Marek Borowski, together with other high-ranking SLD officials, announced the creation of a new centre-left party, the Social Democratic Party of Poland. On the next day, Leszek Miller announced he would step down as Prime Minister on 2 May 2004, the day after Poland joined the European Union. Miller proceeded to do so.

Decline after Rywin-gate[edit]

In the 2004 European Parliament election, it only received 9% of the votes, giving it 5 of 54 seats reserved for Poland in the European Parliament, as part of the Party of European Socialists. In the later 2009 European election the Democratic Left Alliance-Labor Union joint ticket received 12% of the vote and 7 MEPs were elected as part of the newly retitled Socialists & Democrats group.

Wojciech Olejniczak, the former Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, was elected the president of SLD on 29 May 2004, succeeded Józef Oleksy, who resigned from the post of Polish Prime Minister due to alleged connections to the KGB.


However the SLD could not avoid from suffering a huge defeat in the 2005 parliamentary election, SLD only won 11.3% of the vote. This gave the party 55 seats, barely a quarter of what it had had prior to the election. It had also lost all of its Senators. In late 2006 a centre-left political alliance called Left and Democrats was created, comprising SLD and smaller centre-left parties, the Labour Union, the Social Democratic Party of Poland, and the liberal Democratic Party – The coalition won a disappointing 13% in the 2007 parliamentary election and was dissolved soon after in April 2008. On 31 May 2008, Olejniczak was replaced by Grzegorz Napieralski as SLD leader.

In the 2011 parliamentary election, SLD received 8.24% votes which gave it 27 seats in the Sejm.[8] After the elections, one of the party members, Sławomir Kopyciński, decided to leave SLD and join Palikot's Movement.[9] On December 10, 2011, Leszek Miller was chosen to return as the party leader.

Election results[edit]


Election year # of
 % of
# of
overall seats won
1991 1,344,820 12
60 / 460
Decrease 113
1993 2,815,169 20.4
171 / 460
Increase 111
1997 3,551,224 27.1
164 / 460
Decrease 6
2001 5,342,519 41
200 / 460
Increase 36
As part of the SLD-UP coalition, which won 216 seats in total.
2005 1,335,257 11.3
55 / 460
Decrease 145
2007 2,122,981 13.2
40 / 460
Decrease 15
As part of the Left and Democrats coalition, which won 53 seats in total.
2011 1,184,303 8.2
27 / 460
Decrease 13


Election year # of
overall seats won
4 / 100
Increase 4
37 / 100
Increase 33
28 / 100
Decrease 9
75 / 100
Increase 47
0 / 100
Decrease 75
0 / 100
0 / 100


Election year Candidate 1st round 2nd round
# of overall votes  % of overall vote # of overall votes  % of overall vote
1990 Supported Włodzimierz Cimoszewicz 1,514,025 9.2 (#4)
1995 Aleksander Kwaśniewski 6,275,670 35.1 (#1) 9,704,439 51.7 (#1)
2000 Supported Aleksander Kwaśniewski 9,485,224 53.9 (#1)
2005 Włodzimierz Cimoszewicz (candidate withdrew)
2010 Grzegorz Napieralski 2,299,870 13.7 (#3)

European Parliament[edit]

Election year # of
 % of
# of
overall seats won
2004 569,311 9.4
5 / 54
Increase 5
2009 908,765 12.3
7 / 50
Increase 2
2014 667,319 9.4
5 / 51
Decrease 2

Regional assemblies[edit]

Election year  % of
# of
overall seats won
1998 30.24
329 / 855
2002 24.65
189 / 561
2006 14.25
66 / 561
Decrease 123
As part of the Left and Democrats coalition.
2010 15.2
85 / 561
Increase 19
2014 8.79
28 / 555
Decrease 57

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Parties and Elections in Europe: The database about parliamentary elections and political parties in Europe, by Wolfram Nordsieck
  2. ^ José Magone (26 August 2010). Contemporary European Politics: A Comparative Introduction. Routledge. p. 457. ISBN 978-0-203-84639-1. Retrieved 19 July 2013. 
  3. ^ Susanne Jungerstam-Mulders (2006). Post-Communist Eu Member States: Parties and Party Systems. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. p. 94. ISBN 978-0-7546-4712-6. Retrieved 6 February 2013. 
  4. ^ Dimitri Almeida (27 April 2012). The Impact of European Integration on Political Parties: Beyond the Permissive Consensus. CRC Press. p. 71. ISBN 978-1-136-34039-0. Retrieved 14 July 2013. 
  5. ^ The Communist Successor Parties of Central and Eastern Europe by András Bozóki, John T. Ishiyama. M.E. Sharpe, 2002. pp 70-71
  6. ^ The Communist Successor Parties of Central and Eastern Europe by András Bozóki, John T. Ishiyama. M.E. Sharpe, 2002. p. 82
  7. ^ Communist and Post-communist Parties in Europe edited by Uwe Backes, Patrick Moreau. p. 321.
  8. ^ "Elections 2011 - Election results". National Electoral Commission. Retrieved 2011-11-20. 
  9. ^ "Poseł Kopyciński z SLD przeszedł do Ruchu Palikota" (in Polish). 2011-10-20. Retrieved 2011-11-20. 

External links[edit]