Elections in Poland

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Elections in Poland gives information on election and election results in Poland. Poland has a multi-party political system. Poland elects on national level a head of state – the president – and a legislature. There are also various local elections, referendums and elections to the European Parliament.

Poland has a long history of elections dating several centuries, including the elections to Sejm from 1182 and the elective monarchy from 1569 to 1795. There were also elections in the Second Polish Republic (1918–1939), and the People's Republic of Poland, although most of the latter are considered to have been rigged.

Modern Poland[edit]

Results of elections to the Sejm
Lech Kaczyński and Maria Kaczyńska in 2006

Since 1991, Polish elections operate according to a typical parliamentary system.

Poland has a multi-party political system, with numerous parties in which no one party often has a chance of gaining power alone, and parties must work with each other to form coalition governments.

Poland elects on national level a head of state – the president – and a legislature. The president is elected for a five-year term by the people. The National Assembly has two chambers. The parliament (Sejm) has 460 members, elected for a four-year term by party lists in multi-seat constituencies with a 5% threshold for single parties and 8% threshold for coalitions, (requirement waived for national minorities). The Senate (Senat) has 100 members elected for a four-year term via the first past-the-post system, with 100 single member constituencies. Prior to the 2011 parliamentary elections, elections to the Senate were conducted through plurality bloc voting in 40 multi-seat constituencies. Since 1991 elections are supervised by National Electoral Commission (Państwowa Komisja Wyborcza), whose administrative division is called the National Electoral Office (Krajowe Biuro Wyborcze).

1989–2000 elections[edit]

1989 parliamentary elections[edit]

See also: Contract Sejm

1989 Parliamentary Elections: the Polish Round Table Agreement produced a partly open parliamentary elections. The June election produced a Sejm (lower house), in which one-third of the seats went to communists and one-third went to the two parties which had hitherto been their coalition partners. The remaining one-third of the seats in the Sejm and all those in the Senate were freely contested; the majority of these were by candidates supported by Solidarity. Jaruzelski was elected by the Sejm as President of Poland.

The May 1990 local elections were entirely free. Candidates supported by Solidarity's Citizens' Committees won most of the elections they contested, although voter turnout was only a little over 40%. The cabinet was reshuffled in July 1990; the national defence and interior affairs ministers (hold-overs from the previous communist government) were among those replaced.

1990 presidential elections[edit]

In October 1990, the constitution was amended to curtail the term of President Jaruzelski. In December, Lech Wałęsa became the first popularly elected President of Poland.

1991 parliamentary elections[edit]

Poland's first free parliamentary elections were held in 1991. More than 100 parties participated, representing the full spectrum of political views. No single party received more than 13% of the total vote.

1993 parliamentary elections[edit]

After a rough start, the second group of elections were held in 1993, and the first parliament to serve a full term. The Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) received the largest share of votes.

After the election, the SLD and Polish People's Party (PSL) formed a governing coalition. Waldemar Pawlak, leader of the junior partner PSL, became Prime Minister, later replaced by SLD's leader Józef Oleksy.

1995 presidential elections[edit]

In November 1995, Poland held its second post-war free presidential elections. SLD leader Aleksander Kwaśniewski defeated Wałęsa by a narrow margin—51.7% to 48.3%.

1997 parliamentary elections[edit]

e • d Summary of the 21 September 1997 Parliament of Poland election results
Party Ideology Votes % Change Seats Change
  Solidarity Electoral Action Liberal conservatism 4,427,373 33.83% 201
  Democratic Left Alliance Social democracy 3,551,224 27.13% 164
  Freedom Union Classical liberalism 1,749,518 13.37% 60
  Polish People's Party Agrarianism 956,184 7.31% 27
  Movement for Reconstruction of Poland Euroscepticism 727,072 5.56% 6
  Labour Union Social democracy 620,611 4.74%
  National Party of Retirees and Pensioners 284,826 2.18%
  Unia Prawicy Rzeczypospolitej 266,317 2.03%
  KPERR 212 826 1.63%
  Blok dla Polski 178,395 1.36%
Total (Turnout: 47.93%) 12,974,346 100.0% 458

In 1997 parliamentary elections two parties with roots in the Solidarity movement – Solidarity Electoral Action (AWS) and the Freedom Union (UW) – won 261 of the 460 seats in the Sejm and formed a coalition government. Jerzy Buzek of the AWS became Prime Minister. The AWS and the Democratic Left Allianc (SLD) held the majority of the seats in the Sejm. Marian Krzaklewski was the leader of the AWS, and Leszek Miller led the SLD. In June 2000, UW withdrew from the governing collation, leaving AWS at the helm of a minority government.

Post-2000 elections[edit]

2000 presidential election[edit]

e • d Summary of the 8 October 2000 Polish presidential election results
Candidates - party votes %
Aleksander Kwaśniewski - Independent supported by Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) 9,485,224 53.9
Andrzej Olechowski - Independent 3,044,141 17.3
Marian Krzaklewski - Solidarity Electoral Action (AWS) 2,739,621 15.6
Jarosław Kalinowski - Polish People's Party (PSL) 1,047,949 5.95
Andrzej Lepper - Self-Defense of the Republic of Poland (SRP) 537,570 3.1
Lech Wałęsa - Christian Democracy of the 3rd Republic of Poland (ChD III RP) 252,499 1.4
Janusz Korwin-Mikke - Real Politics Union (UPR) 178,590 1.0
Piotr Ikonowicz - Polish Socialist Party (PPS) 139,682 0.79
Jan Łopuszański - Polish Agreement (PP) 89,002 0.51
Dariusz Grabowski - Coalition for Poland (KdP) 38,672 0.22
Tadeusz Wilecki - Independent 28,805 0.16
Bogdan Pawłowski - Independent 17,164 0.10
Total 17,598,919 100.00
Total valid votes 17,598,919
Total invalid votes 190,312
Total votes cast 17,789,231
Turnout 61.08%
Sources:The Handbook of Political Change in Eastern Europe, Poland - Presidential election results

In the presidential election of 2000, Aleksander Kwaśniewski, the incumbent former leader of the post-communist Democratic Left Alliance (SLD), was re-elected in the first round of voting, with 53.9% of the popular vote. Second place, with only 17.3%, went to Andrzej Olechowski. It is thought[who?] that the opposition campaign was hindered by their inability to put forward a charismatic (or even a single major) candidate, as well as falling support for the centre-right Solidarity Electoral Action (AWS) government. This was related to internal friction in the ruling parliamentary coalition.

2001 parliamentary elections[edit]

The 1997 Constitution and the changed administrative divisions of 1999 required a revision of the electoral system, which was passed in April 2001. The most important changes included:

  1. the final liquidation of the party list (previously, some of the members of parliament were elected from a party list, based on nationwide voter support, rather than from local constituencies),
  2. modification of the method of allocating seats to the Sainte-Laguë method, which gave less premium to large parties. The latter change was reverted to the d'Hondt method in 2002.

In the September 2001 parliamentary elections, the SLD won on the back of voter disillusionment with the AWS government and internal bickering within that bloc. So much so that this former ruling party did not enter parliament, falling below the 8% threshold for coalitions (they had failed to form a formal political party, which has only a 5% threshold, and formally remained a "coalition" of parties).

The SLD formed a coalition with the agrarian Polish Peasant Party and leftist Labour Union (UP), with Leszek Miller as Prime Minister.

2005 presidential and parliament elections[edit]

e • d Summary of the 25 September 2005 Polish parliamentary election results
Parties Votes % Seats Sejm +/- Seats Senate
Law and Justice (Prawo i Sprawiedliwość, PiS) 3,185,714 27.0 155 +111 49
Civic Platform (Platforma Obywatelska, PO) 2,849,259 24.1 133 +68 34
Self-Defense of the Republic of Poland (Samoobrona RP) 1,347,355 11.4 56 +3 3
Democratic Left Alliance (Sojusz Lewicy Demokratycznej, SLD) 1,335,257 11.3 55 -161 -
League of Polish Families (Liga Polskich Rodzin, LPR) 940,726 8.0 34 -4 7
Polish People's Party (Polskie Stronnictwo Ludowe, PSL) 821,656 7.0 25 -17 2
Social Democracy of Poland (Socjaldemokracja Polska, SDPL) 459,380 3.9 -   -
Democratic Party (Partia Demokratyczna) 289,276 2.5 -   -
Janusz Korwin-Mikke Platform (Platforma Janusza Korwin-Mikke, PJKM) 185,885 1.6 -   -
Patriotic Movement (Ruch Patriotyczny) 124,038 1.1 -   -
Polish Labor Party (Polska Partia Pracy, PPP) 91,266 0.8 -   -
German Minority Electoral Committee (Komitet Wyborczy Mniejszość Niemiecka) 34,469 0.3 2    
Polish National Party (Polska Partia Narodowa) 34,127 0.3 -    
Native House (Dom Ojczysty) 32,863 0.3 -    
Centre (Centrum) 21,893 0.2 -    
All-Poland Civic Coalition (Ogólnopolska Koalicja Obywatelska) 16,251 0.1 -    
Party Initiative of the Republic of Poland (Partia Inicjatywa Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej) 11,914 0.1 -    
Polish Confederation - Dignity and Work (Polska Konfederacja - Godność i Praca) 8,353 0.1 -    
National Rebirth of Poland (Narodowe Odrodzenie Polski) 7,376 0.1 -    
German Minority of Silesia (Mniejszość Niemiecka Śląska) 5,581 0.1 -    
Labour Party (Stronnictwo Pracy) 1,019 0.01 -    
Social Rescuers (Społeczni Ratownicy) 982 0.01 -    
Independents         5
  Total (turnout 40.6 %) 11,804,676   460   100
  • Registered voters: 30,338,316
  • Votes counted: 12,255,875
  • Invalid votes: 451,199
  • Valid votes: 11,804,676
e • d Summary of 9 and 23 October 2005 Polish Presidential election results
Candidates and nominating parties Votes 1st round % Votes 2nd round %
Lech Kaczyński - Law and Justice 4,947,927 33.1 8,257,468 54.04
Donald Tusk - Civic Platform 5,429,666 36.3 7,022,319 45.96
Andrzej Lepper - Self-Defense of the Republic of Poland 2,259,094 15.1  
Marek Borowski - Social Democracy of Poland 1,544,642 10.3
Jarosław Kalinowski - Polish People's Party 269,316 1.8
Janusz Korwin-Mikke - Real Politics Union 214,116 1.4
Henryka Bochniarz - Democratic Party 188,598 1.3
Liwiusz Ilasz 31,691 0.2
Stanisław Tymiński - All-Polish Citizens Coalition 23,545 0.2
Leszek Bubel - Polish National Party 18,828 0.1
Jan Pyszko - Organization of the Polish Nation - Polish League 10,371 0.1
Adam Słomka - The Polish Confederation-Freedom and the Work 8,895 0.1
Total 15,046,350 100.00 15,279,787 100.00
Total valid votes 15,046,350 15,279,787
Total invalid votes 155,233 159,897
Total votes cast 15,435,020 15,439,684
Turnout 49.7% 50.99%
Source: National Electoral Commission


In the autumn of 2005 Poles voted in both parliamentary and presidential elections. September's parliamentary poll was expected to produce a coalition of two centre-right parties, Law and Justice (Prawo i Sprawiedliwość, PiS) and Civic Platform (Platforma Obywatelska, PO). PiS eventually gained 27% of votes cast and became the largest party in the sejm ahead of PO on 24%. The out-going ruling party, the left-wing Democratic Left Alliance (Sojusz Lewicy Demokratycznej, SLD), achieved just 11%. Presidential elections in October followed a similar script. The early favourite, Donald Tusk, leader of the PO, saw his opinion poll lead slip away and was beaten 54% to 46% in the second round by the PiS candidate Lech Kaczyński (one of the twins, founders of the party). Both elections were blighted by low turn-outs—only 51% in the second and deciding round of the presidential election, and just over 40% in the parliamentary election. The suggested cause of the low turnout is popular disillusionment with politicians.

2006 local elections[edit]

2007 parliamentary election[edit]

e • d Summary of the 21 October 2007 Polish parliamentary election results
Parties Sejm Senate
Votes % Seats +/– MPs %/votes % Seats +/–
Civic Platform (Platforma Obywatelska, PO) 6,701,010 41.51 209 +76 1,09 60 +26
Law and Justice (Prawo i Sprawiedliwość, PiS) 5,183,477 32.11 166 +11 1,12 39 –10
Left and Democrats (Lewica i Demokraci, LiD) 2,122,981 13.15 53 –2[4] 0,88
Polish People's Party (Polskie Stronnictwo Ludowe, PSL) 1,437,638 8.91 31 +6 0,76 –2
Self-Defence of the Republic of Poland (Samoobrona RP, SRP) 247,335 1.53 –56 –3
League of Polish Families (Liga Polskich Rodzin, LPR) 209,171 1.30 –34 –7
Polish Labor Party (Polska Partia Pracy, PPP) 160,476 0.99
Women's Party (Partia Kobiet, PK)[5] 45,121 0.28
German Minority (Mniejszość Niemiecka, MN)[6] 32,462 0.20 1 –1 1,09
Patriotic Self-Defense (Samoobrona Patriotyczna)[7] 2,531 0.02
Independents (Niezależni) N/A N/A N/A N/A 1 –4
Total 16,142,202 460 100
  • Registered voters: 30,615,471
  • Votes counted: 16,477,734 (53.88 %)
  • Invalid votes: 335,532
  • Valid votes: 16,142,202
  1. ^ Compared to the result of Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) in 2005.
  2. ^ Contested the election in seven districts only.
  3. ^ Contested the election in one district only.
  4. ^ Contested the election in one district only.

In the October parliamentary elections, the Civic Platform (PO) won a stunning victory, the largest opposition party, which gained more than 41% of the popular vote. PiS's vote increased, from 2005, but insufficiently to gain reelection, whilst both Samoobrona and LPR were wiped out, losing all representation, each having gained only a little over 1% of the vote. PO proceeded to form a majority governing coalition with the agrarian Polish People's Party (PSL), with PO leader, Donald Tusk, taking over the prime ministerial office in November, 2007.

2010 presidential election[edit]

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

On 10 April 2010, several members of the political elite were killed in the Smolensk air crash, including Lech Kaczyński, acting President of Poland.

At the presidential election in 2010, Donald Tusk decided not to present his candidature, considered easily winning over PiS leader Jarosław Kaczyński. At PO primary elections, Bronisław Komorowski defeated the Oxford-educated, PiS turncoat Foreign Minister Radosław Sikorski. At the polls, Komorowski defeated Jarosław Kaczyński, ensuring a PO dominance on all Polish political landscape.[1]

In November 2010, local elections granted about 31 percent of the votes and PiS at 23 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.[1]

2011 parliamentary election[edit]

e • d Summary of the 09 October 2011 Polish parliamentary election results[2]
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)[8] 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.[3]

The parliamentary election to both the Sejm and the Senate was held on 9 October 2011. The previous election, in 2007, resulted in a Civic PlatformPolish People's Party (PSL) government. All seats of both houses were up for re-election.

Civic Platform (PO), led by Prime Minister Donald Tusk, was aiming for re-election: a feat that hadn't been achieved since Poland became a democracy. The PSL was previously the smaller partner to the Civic Platform in the governing coalition, and had said that it wished to continue this relationship after the election.[4]

2015 parliamentary election[edit]

The parliamentary election to both the Sejm and the Senate is expected to be held in October 2015. The previous election, in 2011, resulted in a Civic PlatformPolish People's Party (PSL) government. All seats of both houses are up for re-election.

The process of election for the Sejm is through party-list proportional representation via the D'hondt method in multi-seat constituencies,[5] with a 5% threshold for single parties and 8% threshold for coalitions (requirements waived for national minorities). The following coalition has been signed already: Law and Justice (PiS) between United Poland (SP) and Polska Razem (PR).

The following coalition has been communicated orally: The Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) between Twój Ruch (TR).[6] In the run up to the next Polish parliamentary election, various organisations carry out opinion polling to gauge voting intention. One of the first poll results which is taken into account the coalitions is listed in the table below.

Date(s)
conducted
Polling organisation/client Civic Platform PO Law and Justice PiS Democratic Left Alliance SLD Polish People's Party PSL Congress of the New Right KNP
12-17 Jul Badaniawyborcze 23% 39% 10% 4% 5%

History[edit]

Poland has a long history of elections dating many centuries from the first Sejm in 1182. From the Sejm of 1493 Polish kings had to call regular Sejms and sejmiks (regional elections) every two years. From 1573 the system of royal elections required the election of kings during the Sejm.

The first modern and free elections were held in 1919, two months after Poland regained its independence in 1918. After the May Coup there were questions how free are the Polish elections, specially the elections of 1930 are often called non-free. After the Second World War, Poland became controlled by the communists, who rigged the elections of 1947 to ensure they controlled the entire Polish government. Although there were regular elections in Poland from that time, no elections until the groundbreaking elections of 1989, marking the fall of communism, were free. The elections of 1989, which guaranteed the Polish communist party and its allies a majority of lower house seats, but allowed opposition parties to gain representation, is considered to be a semi-free election. All subsequent elections, beginning with the 1991 election are considered fair and free.

Kingdom of Poland and Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (until 1795)[edit]

Sejm[edit]

The first Sejm was called in 1182. Since the Sejm of 1493, called by king John I Olbracht in 1493, Sejms were to be held every 2 years. There were also special Sejms when needed, for example the coronation sejms.

Famous Sejms included:

Elective monarchy and officials[edit]

Main article: List of Polish kings
Main article: Golden Freedom

Since the death of Sigismund II Augustus, last of the Jagiellonian dynasty, and following a brief period of interregnum, the entire nobility (szlachta) of the Commonwealth (10% of the population) could take part in the elections of the monarchs. Last elected king was Stanisław August Poniatowski in 1764. He abdicated in 1795 after the partitions of Poland ended the existence of sovereign state of Poland for 123 years.

Second Polish Republic (1918–1939)[edit]

It is disputed how free were elections held after 1926 were; in particular, the 1930 elections are often considered to have been non-free pl:Wybory brzeskie. Polish presidents were elected by the Sejm and Senate (Zgromadzenie Narodowe), not in a popular vote. Before 1922, the Polish Chief of State was called Naczelnik Państwa.

People's Republic of Poland (1945–1989)[edit]

Only the 1947 and 1989 elections can be considered as partially free. All others were controlled. There were no presidential elections during the rest of this period, with President Bolesław Bierut's nomination by the Sejm and the abolition of the office by the 1952 constitution.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b Warsaw Business Journal
  2. ^ [1] Polish State Electoral Commission: Results for elections to the Sejm and Senate, 2011
  3. ^ [2] News of the formation of PJN in the Sejm
  4. ^ "PSL want to continue coalition in next year's general election". TheNews.pl (Polskie Radio). 18 November 2010. Retrieved 20 December 2010. 
  5. ^ http://electionresources.org/pl/
  6. ^ [3] TT, Webseite (German language)

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]