Politics of Poland

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The politics of Poland take place in the framework of a parliamentary representative democratic republic, whereby the Prime Minister is the head of government of a multi-party system and the President is the head of state.

Executive power is exercised by the President and the government, which consists of a council of ministers led by the Prime Minister. Its members are typically chosen from a majority coalition in the lower house of parliament (the Sejm), although exceptions to this rule are not uncommon. The government is formally announced by the president, and must pass a motion of confidence in the Sejm within two weeks.

Legislative power is vested in the two chambers of parliament, Sejm and Senate. Members of Sejm are elected by proportional representation, with the proviso that non-ethnic-minority parties must gain at least 5% of the national vote to enter the lower house. Currently four parties are represented. Parliamentary elections occur at least every four years.

The president, as the head of state, is the supreme commander of the Armed Forces and has the power to veto legislation passed by parliament, but otherwise has a mostly representative role. Presidential elections occur every 5 years.

The political system is defined in the Polish Constitution, which also guarantees a wide range of individual freedoms.

The judicial branch plays a minor role in politics, apart from the Constitutional Tribunal, which can annul laws that violate the freedoms guaranteed in the constitution.

The President[edit]

The President is elected by terms. She/he is head of state, supreme commander of the Armed Forces and supreme representative of the Republic of Poland. The President has the right to veto legislation, although veto may be overridden by the assembly by a three-fifths majority vote.

The President, as representative of the state in foreign affairs, shall ratify and renounce international agreements, appoint and recall the plenipotentiary representatives of the Republic of Poland and shall cooperate with the Prime Minister and the appropriate minister in respect of foreign policy.

As Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, the President shall appoint the Chief of the General Staff and commanders of branches of the Armed Forces.

The President may, regarding particular matters, convene the Cabinet Council, although it does not possess the competence of the Council of Ministers.

Official acts of the President shall require, for their validity, the signature of the Prime Minister, nevertheless this does not apply to:

  • nominating and appointing the Prime Minister
  • shortening of the term of office of the Sejm in the instances specified in the Constitution
  • introducing legislation
  • requesting the Sejm to appoint the President of the National Bank of Poland
  • appointing judges
  • proclaiming the holding of a nationwide referendum (a consent of the Senate is required)
  • signing or refusing to sign a bill
  • appointing the First President of the Supreme Court, President of the Constitutional Tribunal, members of the Council for Monetary Policy, appointing and dismissing members of the National Security Council
  • exercising the power of pardon
  • convening the Cabinet Council

Executive[edit]

Main office holders
Office Name Party Since
President Bronisław Komorowski None 6 August 2010
Prime Minister Donald Tusk PO 16 November 2007

The president is elected by popular vote for a five-year term, the prime minister and deputy prime ministers are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Sejm. The Council of Ministers is responsible to the prime minister and the Sejm; the prime minister proposes, the president appoints, and the Sejm approves the Council of Ministers.

Legislative[edit]

Sejm Plenary Hall

The Polish Parliament has two chambers. The lower chamber (Sejm) has 460 members, elected for a four-year term by proportional representation in multi-seat constituencies using the d'Hondt method similar to that used in many parliamentary political systems, with a 5% threshold (8% for coalitions, threshold waived for national minorities). The Senate (Senat) has 100 members elected for a four-year term under the single member, one-round first-past-the-post voting method. When sitting in joint session, members of the Sejm and Senate form the National Assembly, (Polish Zgromadzenie Narodowe). The National Assembly is formed on three occasions: Taking the oath of office by a new president, bringing an indictment against the President of the Republic to the Tribunal of State, and declaration of a President's permanent incapacity to exercise their duties due to the state of their health. Only the first kind has occurred to date. Since 1991 elections are supervised by the National Electoral Commission (Państwowa Komisja Wyborcza), whose administrative division is called the National Electoral Office (Krajowe Biuro Wyborcze).

Political parties and elections[edit]

For other political parties see List of political parties in Poland. An overview on elections and election results is included in Elections in Poland.


e • d Summary of the 09 October 2011 Polish parliamentary election results[1]
Parties Sejm Senate
Votes p.r.%(*) % Seats +/– MPs %/
votes %
Seats +/–
Civic Platform (Platforma Obywatelska, PO) 5,629,773 18,30 39,18 207 –2 –2.33 63 +3
Law and Justice (Prawo i Sprawiedliwość, PiS) 4,295,016 13,96 29.89 157 –9 –2.22 31 –8
Palikot's Movement (Ruch Palikota, RP) 1,439,490 4,67 10.02 40 +40
Polish People's Party (Polskie Stronnictwo Ludowe, PSL) 1,201,628 3,90 8.36 28 –3 –0.55 2 +2
Democratic Left Alliance (Sojusz Lewicy Demokratycznej, SLD) 1,184,303 3,84 8.24 27 –26 –4.91
Poland Comes First (Polska jest Najważniejsza, PJN) 315,393 1,02 2.19 —† —†
Congress of the New Right (Kongres Nowej Prawicy, KNP) 151,837 0,49 1.06
Polish Labour Party (Polska Partia Pracy, PPP) 79,147 0,25 0.55
Right of the RepublicReal Politics Union (Prawica) 35,169 0,11 0.24 –0.44
German Minority (Mniejszość Niemiecka, MN) 28,014 0,09 0.20 1 –0.03
Our Home Poland (Nasz Dom Polska)[3] 9,733 0,03 0.05 –1.48
Independents (Niezależni) N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A 4 +3
Total 14,369,503 460 100
  • Registered voters: 30,762,931
  • Votes counted: 15,050,027 (48,92%)
  • Invalid votes: 680,524
  • Valid votes: 14,369,503 (95,48%)
  • p.r.%(*) = percentage of valid votes for that party, from overall registered voters list(30,762,931)

†PjN did not exist at the previous election, but had 15 Sejm seats and 1 Senate seat when the previous Parliament was dissolved.[2]

e • d  Summary of the 20 June 2010 and 4 July 2010 Polish presidential election results
Candidates – Parties First round Second round
Votes % Votes %
Bronisław KomorowskiCivic Platform (Platforma Obywatelska) 6,981,319 41.54 8,933,887 53.01
Jarosław KaczyńskiLaw and Justice (Prawo i Sprawiedliwość) 6,128,255 36.46 7,919,134 46.99
Grzegorz Napieralski - Democratic Left Alliance (Sojusz Lewicy Demokratycznej) 2,299,870 13.68  
Janusz Korwin-MikkeFreedom and Lawfulness (Wolność i Praworządność) 416,898 2.48
Waldemar PawlakPolish People's Party (Polskie Stronnictwo Ludowe) 294,273 1.75
Andrzej Olechowski – independent 242,439 1.44
Andrzej LepperSelf-Defense of the Republic of Poland (Samoobrona Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej) 214,657 1.28
Marek JurekRight of the Republic (Prawica Rzeczypospolitej) 177,315 1.06
Bogusław Ziętek – Free Trade Union "August 80" (Wolny Związek Zawodowy "Sierpień 80") 29,548 0.18
Kornel Morawiecki – on behalf of Fighting Solidarity (Solidarność Walcząca) 21,596 0.13
Total votes for candidates 16,806,170 100.00 16,853,021 100.00
Total valid votes 16,806,170 99.30 16,853,021 98.84
Total invalid votes 117,662 0.70 197,396 1.16
Total votes cast 16,923,832 100.00 17,050,417 100.00
Turnout 54.94%   55.31%  
Source: Electoral Commission, National Electoral Commission

Some contemporary Polish politicians in alphabetical order: Leszek Balcerowicz, Marek Belka, Marek Borowski, Bogdan Borusewicz, Jerzy Buzek, Ludwik Dorn, Bronisław Geremek, Roman Giertych, Zyta Gilowska, Danuta Hübner, Marek Jurek, Jarosław Kaczyński, Lech Kaczyński, Jarosław Kalinowski, Bronisław Komorowski, Pawel Kowal, Aleksander Kwaśniewski, Andrzej Lepper, Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz, Stefan Meller, Wojciech Olejniczak, Zbigniew Religa, Jan Rokita, Jacek Saryusz-Wolski, Donald Tusk, Zbigniew Wassermann, Zbigniew Ziobro.

See Category:Polish politicians

National security[edit]

Poland's top national security goal is to further integrate with NATO and other west European defense, economic, and political institutions via a modernization and reorganization of its military. Polish military doctrine reflects the same defense nature as its NATO partners.

The combined[3] consists of 100,300[4] active duty personnel and in addition 234,000 reserves. In 2009 the Armed Forces transformed into a fully professional organization and compulsory military service was abolished. Personnel levels and organization in the different branches are as follows (2004):

  • Land Forces: 60,000 (4 divisions, independent units and territorial forces)
  • Air Force: 26,000 (Air and Air Defense Corps)
  • Navy: 14,300 (2 Fleets)
  • Special Forces: 1,700 (4 Special Units - GROM, 1 PSK, "Formoza", special logistics Military Unit)

The Polish military continues to restructure and to modernize its equipment. The Polish Defense Ministry General Staff and the Land Forces staff have recently reorganized the latter into a NATO-compatible J/G-1 through J/G-6 structure. Budget constraints hamper such priority defense acquisitions as a multi-role fighter, improved communications systems, and an attack helicopter.

Poland continues to be a regional leader in support and participation in the NATO Partnership for Peace Program and has actively engaged most of its neighbors and other regional actors to build stable foundations for future European security arrangements. Poland continues its long record of strong support for United Nations peacekeeping operations; it maintaining a unit in Southern Lebanon (part of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, a battalion in NATO's Kosovo Force (KFOR), and providing and actually deploying the KFOR strategic reserve to Kosovo. Poland is a strong ally of the US in Europe and leads the Multinational Division Central-South in Iraq.

Government Protection Bureau[edit]

The Government Protection Bureau (Polish: Biuro Ochrony Rządu, BOR) is Poland's equivalent of the Secret Service in the United States- providing antiterrorism and VIP security detail services for the government.[5]

Administrative divisions[edit]

Poland is divided in 16 provinces or Voivodeships (województwa, singular – województwo); Lower Silesia, Kuyavia-Pomerania, Łódź, Lubelskie, Lubusz, Lesser Poland, Masovia, Opole, Subcarpathia, Podlaskie, Pomerania, Silesia, Świętokrzyskie, Warmia-Masuria, Greater Poland, and West Pomerania.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ [1] Polish State Electoral Commission: Results for elections to the Sejm and Senate, 2011
  2. ^ [2] News of the formation of PJN in the Sejm
  3. ^ Polish Armed Forces
  4. ^ "Polish Military personnel". Mon.gov.pl. 2012-02-07. Retrieved 2012-02-11. 
  5. ^ Biuro Ochrony Rządu retrieved 2007-07-25

External links[edit]