Democratic Left Alliance
|Democratic Left Alliance|
|Founded||1991 (as coalition)
15 April 1999 (as party)
|Headquarters||ul. Złota 9 Warsaw|
|Youth wing||Social Democratic Youth Federation|
|International affiliation||Progressive Alliance,
|European affiliation||Party of European Socialists|
|European Parliament group||Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats|
|Politics of Poland
Democratic Left Alliance (Polish: Sojusz Lewicy Demokratycznej, SLD) is a social-democratic political party in Poland. Formed in 1991 as a coalition 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.
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
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. 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. 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. 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.
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
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 – demokraci.pl. 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 2011 national parliamentary election SLD received 8.24% votes which gave them 27 seats in the Sejm. After elections one of the party member, Sławomir Kopyciński, decided to leave SLD and join Palikot's Movement. On December 10, 2011, Leszek Miller was chosen to return as the party leader.
Election results in the Sejm since 1991
|Election year||# of
| % of
overall seats won
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