|Founded||24 January 2001|
|Split from||Solidarity Electoral Action
|Headquarters||Władysław Anders st. 21, 00-159 Warsaw|
|European affiliation||European People's Party|
|European Parliament group||European People's Party|
|Politics of Poland
Civic Platform (Polish: Platforma Obywatelska, PO) is a liberal-conservative, Christian democratic, and liberal political party in Poland. It has been the major coalition partner in Poland's government since the 2007 general election, with party leader Donald Tusk as Prime Minister of Poland and Bronisław Komorowski as President. PO is the largest party in the Sejm, with 207 seats, and the Senate, with 63 seats. Civic Platform is a member of the European People's Party (EPP).
The party was formed in 2001 as a split from Solidarity Electoral Action (AWS), under the leadership of Andrzej Olechowski and Maciej Płażyński, with Donald Tusk of the Freedom Union (UW). In the 2001 general election, PO emerged as the largest opposition party, behind the ruling centre-left party Democratic Left Alliance (SLD). PO remained the second-largest party at the 2005 general election, but this time behind the national-conservative party Law and Justice (PiS). In 2007, Civic Platform overtook PiS, now established as the two dominant parties, and formed a coalition government with the Polish People's Party. Following the Smolensk disaster of April 2010, Bronisław Komorowski became the first President from PO in the 2010 presidential election.
Since its creation, the party has shown stronger electoral performances in the west and north of Poland.
The Civic Platform was founded in 2001 as a split from existing parties. Founders Andrzej Olechowski, Maciej Płażyński, and Donald Tusk were sometimes jokingly called "the Three Tenors" by Polish media and commentators. Olechowski and Płażyński left the party during the 2001–2005 parliamentary term, leaving Tusk as the sole remaining founder, and current party leader. In 2009, in interviews to Rzeczpospolita daily newspaper and Polsat News (3 July 2009), General Gromosław Czempiński, who in 1972–1990 had been an agent of Communist secret services, stated that the Civic Platform was his idea. "I can say that I participated in a number of discussions, above all, I had to convince Olechowski and Paweł Piskorski to an idea, which they excellently put into practice. I also talked to Donald Tusk", said Czempiński. Czempinski's words were confirmed by Andrzej Olechowski (also an agent of Communist services, operational name "Must"), who in an interview given to Gazeta Polska said: "General Czempinski surely participated in a way in forming such ideas (...) I talked to General Czempinski about the newly created movement".
In 2005, PO led all opinion polls with 26% to 30% of public support. However, in the 2005 general election, in which it was led by Jan Rokita, PO polled 24.1% and came second to the 27% garnered by Law and Justice (PiS). A centre-right coalition of PO and PiS (nicknamed:PO-PiS) was deemed most likely to form a government after the election. Yet the putative coalition parties had a falling out in the wake of the fiercely contested Polish presidential election of 2005.
Lech Kaczyński (PiS) won the second round of the presidential election on 23 October 2005 with 54% of the vote, ahead of Tusk, the PO candidate. Due to the demands of PiS for control of all the armed ministries (the Defence Ministry, the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs) and the office of the Prime Minister, PO and PiS were unable to form a coalition. Instead, PiS formed a coalition government with the support of the League of Polish Families (LRP) and Self-Defense of the Republic of Poland (SRP). PO became the opposition to this PiS-led coalition government.
The PiS-led coalition fell apart in 2007 amid corruption scandal with Andrzej Lepper and Tomasz Lipiec and internal leadership disputes. These events led to the new elections in 2007. In the 21 October 2007 parliamentary election, PO won 41.51% of the popular vote and 209 out of 460 seats (now 201) in the Sejm and 60 out of 100 seats (now 56) in the Senate of Poland. Civic Platform, now the largest party in both houses of parliament, subsequently formed a coalition with the Polish People's Party (PSL).
At the Polish presidential election of 2010, following the Smolensk air disaster which killed the incumbent Polish president Lech Kaczyński, Tusk decided not to present his candidature, considered an easy possible victory over PiS leader Jarosław Kaczyński. During the PO primary elections, Bronisław Komorowski defeated the Oxford-educated, PiS defector Foreign Minister Radosław Sikorski. At the polls, Komorowski defeated Jarosław Kaczyński, ensuring PO dominance over the current Polish political landscape.
In November 2010, local elections granted Civic Platform about 30.1 percent of the votes and PiS at 23.2 percent, an increase for the former and a drop for the latter compared to the 2006 elections.
PO succeeded in winning four consecutive elections (a record in post-communist Poland), and Tusk remains as kingmaker. PO's dominance is also a reflection of left-wing weakness and divisions on both sides of the political scene, with PiS suffering a splinter in Autumn 2010.
The Civic Platform combines ordoliberal stances on the economy with social conservative stances on social and ethical issues, including opposition to abortion, same-sex marriage, soft drug decriminalisation, euthanasia, fetal stem cell research, removal of crosses and other religious symbols in schools and public places, and partially to wide availability of in vitro fertilisation. The party also wants to criminalise gambling and supports religious education in schools. Other socially conservative stances of the party include voting to ban designer drugs and amending the penal code to introduce mandatory chemical castration of paedophiles. It is somewhat less strident on social issues than Law and Justice, however.
Core proposals from the party programme in the past included privatisation of the remaining public sectors of Polish economy, direct elections of mayors and regional governors, the first-past-the-post electoral system instead of proportional representation, labor law reform, independence over monetary policy by the National Bank of Poland, a 15% flat-rate income tax, and the decentralisation of the state. As of the third year of Civic Platform's rule, privatisation is creeping with only a few enterprises privatised every year, while governmental oppression and bureaucracy are rising, hence many accusations of populism and opportunism have been occurring.
Despite declaring in the parliamentary election campaign the will to limit taxation in Poland the Civic Platform has in fact increased it. The party refrained from implementing the flat tax, increasing instead the value-added tax from 22% to 23% in 2011. It has also increased the excise imposed on diesel oil, alcoholic beverages, tobacco and coil. The party has eliminated many tax exemptions.
On the other hand, there is growing "centrist" faction favoring progressive modernisation of country, social justice, social tolerance (especially civil pacts of solidarity), a social market economy, flexicurity and environmental sustainability.
- Donald Tusk – chairman, Prime Minister
- Grzegorz Schetyna – first vice chairman
- Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz – vice chairman, mayor of Warsaw, capital of Poland
- Ewa Kopacz – vice chairman, Marshal of the Sejm
- Radosław Sikorski – vice chairman, Minister of Foreign Affairs
- Waldy Dzikowski
- Jacek Saryusz-Wolski
- Tomasz Tomczykiewicz
- Urszula Augustyn
- Bogdan Zdrojewski – Minister of Culture and National Heritage
- Andrzej Czerwiński
- Cezary Grabarczyk – Deputy Marshal of the Sejm
- Sławomir Nitras
- Sławomir Nowak – Minister of Transport
- Andrzej Czuma
- Bronisław Komorowski – president of Poland (elected in 2010)
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