|General Secretary||Marcin Kierwiński|
|Parliamentary leader||Borys Budka|
|Founded||24 January 2001|
|Headquarters||ul. Wiejska 12A, 00-490 Warsaw|
|National affiliation||Civic Coalition|
Senate Pact 2023 (for 2023 Senate election)
|European affiliation||European People's Party|
|European Parliament group||European People's Party|
127 / 460
39 / 100
14 / 52
152 / 552
23 / 107
Civic Platform (Polish: Platforma Obywatelska, PO)[nb 1] is a centre-right liberal political party in Poland. Since 2021, it is led by Donald Tusk, who previously led it from 2003–2014 and former president of the European Council from 2014–2019.
It was formed in 2001 by splinter factions from the Solidarity Electoral Action, the Freedom Union and the Conservative People's Party, and it later placed second in the 2001 Polish parliamentary election. It remained at the opposition until the 2007 Polish parliamentary opposition, when it overtook Law and Justice, won 209 seats, and Tusk was elected as prime minister of Poland. Following the Smolensk air disaster in 2010, Bronisław Komorowski served as acting president of Poland and later won the 2010 Polish presidential election. Tusk continued to serve as prime minister and leader of Civic Platform until he resigned in 2014 to assume the post of the president of the European Council. The party was defeated in the 2015 Polish parliamentary and presidential elections. It placed second in the 2019 Polish parliamentary election, and its 2020 Polish presidential election candidate, Rafał Trzaskowski, won 49% of the popular vote in the second round and lost the election to Andrzej Duda.
Initially positioned as a Christian democratic party with strong economically liberal tendencies, it soon adopted liberal conservatism throughout the 2000s. During their time in power, they were aligned with more pragmatic and centrist views, and were characterized as a catch-all party. In the 2010s, the Civic Platform adopted more socially liberal policies, aligned itself with conservative liberalism, and it has since been positioned in the centre and leaning towards the centre-right. It has also strongly advocated for Poland's membership in the European Union and NATO. It is a member of the European People's Party.
Until October 2023, it held 106 seats in the Sejm and 37 seats in the Senate of Poland, and it also headed the Civic Coalition, which was founded in 2018. Since its creation, it has shown strong electoral performances in Warsaw, the west, and the north of Poland. Since the 2000s, the Civic Platform has established itself as one of the dominant political parties in Poland.
The Civic Platform was founded in 2001 as economically liberal, Christian-democratic 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 the 2001 general election, the party secured 12.6% of the vote and 65 deputies in the Sejm, making it the largest opposition party to the government led by the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD). In the 2002 local elections, PO stood together with Law and Justice in 15 voivodeships (in 14 as POPiS, in Podkarpacie with another centre-right political parties). They stood separately only in Mazovia.
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 only 24.1% and unexpectedly 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 (LPR) 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 a corruption scandal involving Andrzej Lepper and Tomasz Lipiec and internal leadership disputes. These events led to new elections, and in the 21 October 2007 parliamentary election PO won 41.51% of the popular vote and 209 out of 460 seats in the Sejm and 60 out of 100 seats 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 2010 Polish presidential election, 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. Civic Platform won the plurality of votes in the 9 October 2011 parliamentary election, gaining 39.18% of the popular vote, 207 of 460 seats in the Sejm, and 63 out of 100 seats in the Senate.
In the 2014 European elections, Civic Platform came first place nationally, achieving 32.13% of the vote and returning 19 MEPs. In the 2014 local elections, PO achieved 179 seats, the highest single number. In the 2015 presidential election, PO endorsed Bronisław Komorowski, a former member of PO from 2001 till 2010. He lost the election receiving 48.5% of the popular vote, while Andrzej Duda won with 51.5%.
In the 2015 parliamentary election, PO came second place after PiS, achieving 24.09% of the popular vote, 138 out of 460 seats in the Sejm, 34 out of 100 seats in the Senate. In the 2018 local elections, PO achieved 26.97% of the votes, coming second after PiS. In the 2019 European elections, PO participated in the European Coalition electoral alliance which achieved 38.47%, coming second after PiS. On October 1, 2023, it held The Million Hearts march in Warsaw.
The Civic Platform has been mainly described as a centrist, or centre-right, political party. Due to the peculiarity of Polish politics as a major liberal opponent of the conservative PiS, the party is also classified as centre-left. It has been also described as liberal-conservative, Christian democratic, conservative, conservative-liberal, classical-liberal, liberal, and social-liberal. It was also described as pragmatic and big tent. It supports Poland's membership in the European Union.
Since 2007, when Civic Platform formed the government, the party has gradually moved from its Christian-democratic stances, and many of its politicians hold more liberal positions on social issues. In 2013, the Civic Platform's government introduced public funding of in vitro fertilisation program. Civic Platform also supports civil unions for same-sex couples but is against same-sex marriage and the adoption of children by same-sex couples. The party also currently supports liberalisation of the abortion law, which it had opposed while in government.
PO was described as neoliberal, economically liberal, and fiscally conservative. Despite this and declaring in the parliamentary election campaign the will to limit taxation in Poland, it increased the excise imposed on diesel oil, alcoholic beverages, tobacco, and oil. The party refrained from implementing the flat tax, instead increasing value-added tax from 22% to 23% in 2011. The party also eliminated many tax exemptions. In response to the climate crisis, the Civic Platform has promised to end the use of coal for energy in Poland by 2040.
After becoming the biggest opposition party, the Civic Platform became more culturally liberal and populist. This tendency is especially popular among the younger generation of the party's politicians, such as mayor of Warsaw and presidential candidate Rafał Trzaskowski. The party has also changed its opinion about the social programmes of PiS, starting to support them.
As of 2020, the party enjoyed the greatest support in large cities and among people with higher education and in managerial positions, while in terms of age, the electorate was evenly distributed, and the electoral base of the Civic Platform lied in middle-aged highly educated gold-collar and white-collar workers of the middle and upper middle class. As of 2020, the Civic Platform electorate was made up of more women than men, was disproportionally represented by middle-aged, urban and middle-class voters, and was characteristed by higher levels of education, higher position in the socio-professional structure, as well as moderate religiosity and Roman Catholicism. The party consistently enjoyed overwhelming support of workers such as directors, managers and specialists, business owners and co-owners, and administrative workers. At the same time, the party underperformed amongst blue-collar workers, young voters, farmers and students, as well as unemployed voters. In regards to age, Civic Platform performed the best amongst voters aged 40–49, while also performing strongly among 30-39 and 50-59 year olds. The party performs the worst amongst the oldest (aged 60 or more) and the youngest (aged 29 or less) voters. The party strongly appealed to urban voters, as almost a half of voters living in big cities (500,000 people or more) vote for Civic Platform; support for the party remains strong in middle-sized cities but strongly declines in small towns and the countryside, as on average only 15% of rural voters support it.
As of 2016, an overwhelming majority of party's supporters (83%) were Roman Catholics, and 44% of these voters partook in religious practices at least once a week. as of 2016, the party was supported by the Christian left, as well as liberal and moderate Catholics, while most of conservative Catholics in Poland support Law and Justice instead. Churchgoing Catholics are roughly evenly split between Civic Platform and Law and Justice, with a significant minority of churchgoers supporting Polish People's Party as well. Catholics who support Civic Platform "oppose, on the one hand, the state's enforcement of religious norms and, on the other, do not condone their violation". This is largely consistent with the party's attitude towards religion, which combines a moderately conservative and politically Catholic programme with left-wing economic slogans, supported by Catholic social teaching and the teaching of John Paul II contained in the encyclical Centesimus annus.
As of 2020, most of Civic Platform's electorate identified as liberal conservatives, centrists and moderate conservatives. No tendency dominates, as the party's supporters are roughly evenly split between political tendencies - 35% of party's supporters identify with political centre, 28% as left-wing, and 24% as right-wing. Throghout the 2010s, Civic Platform had been losing left-wing supporters due to the re-emergence of Lewica as well as Janusz Palikot's defection from the party. The party also faced a challenge from Nowoczesna, whose vote "came largely from former Civic Platform supporters, disappointed with its failure to shake off its social conservatism". According to Janusz Jartyś of the University of Szczecin, the ideological base of Civic Platform are "national-conservative, liberal and social-democratic voters", with each faction expecting "at least partial implementation of their demands, stability in the governance of the country and social peace". According to Søren Riishøj, the party is also unpopular amongst the traditionally social-democratic voters, who are opposed to Europeanisation and globalisation, and are critical of the Civic Platform's "almost U.S. type of election campaign."
As of 2021, according to CBOS, Civic Platform was overwhelmingly popular amongst pro-European voters, with almost 80% of party's supporters wishing to cooperate with the European Union more. The party is generally supported by moderates, as most of the party's voters wish for a "compromise" on issues such as abortion. Economically, the party is supported by pro-business and welfare-oriented voters alike; while most of Civic Platform's supporters believe that Poland should become a welfare state, they are evenly split on issues such as progressive taxation and flat tax, and nationalization vs. privatization. The party has also enjoyed the support of regionalists, autonomists and voters supportive of decentralization and localism in general. Over 90% of Civic Platform supporters believe that local governments should have more power and that the national government should devolve its power to the regional governments of gminas and voivodeships. The party is supported by Silesian regionalists, and had organized joint electoral lists with Silesian parties like Silesian Autonomy Movement and Silesian Regional Party. Local politicians of the Civic Platform in Silesia are often associated with Silesian regionalism as well. The party also enjoys support from the Kashubians and their local autonomist movement, with the co-founder of the party, Donald Tusk, having expressed his support for autonomous Kashubia in 1992.
In March 2023, Tusk stated that Silesian should be considered a language rather than an ethnolect as it has unique literature and grammar, and promised to recognise Silesian as an official, statutory language of Upper Silesia. Tusk also declared that he was a regionalist.
|1||Maciej Płażyński||18 October 2001–|
1 June 2003
|2||Donald Tusk||1 June 2003–|
8 November 2014
|3||Ewa Kopacz||8 November 2014–|
26 January 2016
|4||Grzegorz Schetyna||26 January 2016–|
29 January 2020
|5||Borys Budka||29 January 2020–|
3 July 2021
|(2)||Donald Tusk||since 3 July 2021|
|Election year||Leader||# of
overall seats won
|2001||Maciej Płażyński||1,651,099||12.7 (#2)||
65 / 460
|2005||Donald Tusk||2,849,259||24.1 (#2)||
133 / 460
|68||PiS Minority (2005)|
209 / 460
207 / 460
|2015||Ewa Kopacz||3,661,474||24.1 (#2)||
138 / 460
|2019||Grzegorz Schetyna||5,060,355||27.4 (#2)||
102 / 460
|As part of Civic Coalition, which won 134 seats in total.|
|2023||Donald Tusk||6,629,402||30.7 (#2)||
127 / 460
|As part of Civic Coalition, which won 157 seats in total.|
|Election year||# of
overall seats won
2 / 100
|As part of the Senate 2001 coalition, which won 15 seats.|
34 / 100
60 / 100
63 / 100
34 / 100
34 / 100
|As part of the Civic Coalition, which won 43 seats.|
36 / 100
|As part of the Civic Coalition, which won 41 seats.|
|Election year||Candidate||1st round||2nd round|
|# of overall votes||% of overall vote||# of overall votes||% of overall vote|
|2005||Donald Tusk||5,429,666||36.3 (#1)||7,022,319||46.0 (#2)|
|2010||Bronisław Komorowski||6,981,319||41.5 (#1)||8,933,887||53.0 (#1)|
|2015||Supported Bronisław Komorowski||5,031,060||33.8 (#2)||8,112,311||48.5 (#2)|
|2020||Rafał Trzaskowski||5,917,340||30.5 (#2)||10,018,263||48.9 (#2)|
|Election year||% of
overall seats won
79 / 561
|In coalition with Law and Justice (POPiS).|
186 / 561
222 / 561
179 / 555
194 / 552
|As the Civic Coalition.|
|Election year||# of
overall seats won
15 / 54
25 / 50
19 / 51
|2019||5,249 935||38,47 (#2)||
14 / 51
|As the European Coalition.|
|Elżbieta Polak||Lubusz Voivodeship||29 November 2010|
|Marek Woźniak||Greater Poland Voivodeship||10 October 2005|
|Piotr Całbecki||Kuyavian-Pomeranian Voivodeship||24 January 2006|
|Olgierd Geblewicz||West Pomeranian Voivodeship||7 December 2010|
|Mieczysław Struk||Pomeranian Voivodeship||22 February 2010|
|Andrzej Buła||Opole Voivodeship||12 November 2013|
- List of Civic Platform politicians
- Politics of Poland
- List of political parties in Poland
- Liberalism in Poland
- The party is officially the Civic Platform of the Republic of Poland (Platforma Obywatelska Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej).
- Kozłowski, Marcin (25 December 2022). "Zapytaliśmy partie o to, ilu mają członków. Liderem wciąż PSL, na podium też PiS i PO". wiadomosci.gazeta.pl (in Polish). Gazeta.pl. Retrieved 14 July 2023.
Platforma Obywatelska ma obecnie 23 727 członków (stan na 9 grudnia). Partia odnotowała spory spadek w porównaniu do ubiegłego roku (w lipcu 2021 r. deklarowała 34,1 tys. zarejestrowanych działaczy).[Civic Platform currently has 23,727 members (as at 9 December). The party has seen a significant decrease compared to last year (in July 2021, it declared 34,100 registered activists).]
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- PO has often been described as centrist:
- Szczerbiak, Aleks (2017). "An anti-establishment backlash that shook up the party system? The October 2015 Polish parliamentary election" (PDF). European Politics and Society. 18 (4): 404–427. doi:10.1080/23745118.2016.1256027. S2CID 157951515.
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Interestingly, though, more of them have supported the neoliberal centre-right Civil Platform, which in power with its coalition partner PSL (Polish Peasants' Party) since 2008 until 2015.
- Piotr Żuk; Anna Pacześniak (15 December 2022). "Is it possible to defeat right-wing populist authorities by winning elections? The erosion of democracy and the system of the triple-masters class in Poland". Frontiers in Political Science. 4 (1): 7. doi:10.3389/fpos.2022.1040616.
KO is made up of several parties, the largest of which is Civic Platform (Platforma Obywatelska—PO). PO was in power twice: from 2007 until 2011 and later, between 2011 and 2015, acting as a senior partner in a coalition with the Polish People's Party (PSL) and occupied the office of the Prime Minister for two full terms. This center-right party formed in 2001 combines economic neoliberalism with social conservatism.
- Sean Hanley; Aleks Szczerbiak; Tim Haughton; Brigid Fowler (2008). "Sticking Together: Explaining Comparative Centre—Right Party Success in Post-Communist Central and Eastern Europe". Party Politics. 14 (4): 436. doi:10.1177/1354068808090253. ISSN 1426-8876.
This argument also seems broadly confirmed taking into account more recent developments in Poland where both large newer centre-right parties, Civic Platform and Law and Justice, have developed more complex ideological narratives centring on the nature of post-communist transformation.
- Anna Pacześniak; Michał Jacuński; Jean-Michel De Waele (2012). "Ideological Identification of Medium–Level Party Cadres in Poland". Polish Political Science Yearbook. 41 (1): 383. doi:10.15804/ppsy2012019. ISSN 0208-7375.
Since 2005 the main political competitors have been two parties with Solidarity roots enjoying the highest electoral support: the right–wing Law and Justice (PiS) and the centre–right Civic Platform (PO).
- PO has often been described as centre-right:
- "Tusk VS Kaczynski, explaining the conflict". Retrieved 10 June 2023.
- Nathaniel Copsey (2013). "Poland:An Awkward Partner Redeemed". In Simon Bulmer; Christian Lequesne (eds.). The Member States of the European Union (Second ed.). Oxford University Press. p. 191. ISBN 9780199544837.
- Aleks Szczerbiak (2012). Poland Within the European Union: New awkward partner or new heart of Europe?. Routledge. p. 2. ISBN 9780415380737.
- Viktor, Szary (9 September 2014). "Poland's PM Tusk, heading for Brussels, submits resignation". Reuters. Retrieved 7 December 2014.
- Szczerbiak, Aleks (30 November 2016). "An anti-establishment backlash that shook up the party system? The October 2015 Polish parliamentary election" (PDF). European Politics and Society. 18 (4): 404–427. doi:10.1080/23745118.2016.1256027. S2CID 157951515.
As discussed below, under Mr Tusk's leadership, Civic Platform turned from being a centre-right liberal-conservative party into an ideologically eclectic centrist grouping...
- Some sources have described PO as having shifted from the centre-right to the centre.
- PO has often been described as centre-left:
- "The perfect enemy: From migrants to sexual minorities". CHR Michelsen Institute. 2019. Retrieved 28 February 2023.
The tactic worked well for the PiS is in 2015 when anti-migrant rhetoric drummed up the party´s support before its election defeat of the governing centre-left Civic Platform.
- "Poland's ruling party picks LGBTQ rights as election battlefront". NBC News. 15 March 2019. Retrieved 28 February 2023.
The tactic worked for PiS previously, analysts said, noting how in 2015 it used anti-migrant rhetoric to drum up support before its election defeat of the governing center-left Civic Platform.
- Sharon L. Wolchik, Jane Leftwich Curry, ed. (2018). Central and East European Politics: From Communism to Democracy. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 234. ISBN 9781538100899.
A movement spearheaded by young people to get out the vote brought the more policy-focused center left Civic Platform to power.
- "The perfect enemy: From migrants to sexual minorities". CHR Michelsen Institute. 2019. Retrieved 28 February 2023.
- Sean Hanley; Aleks Szczerbiak; Tim Haughton; Brigid Fowler (2008). "Sticking Together: Explaining Comparative Centre—Right Party Success in Post-Communist Central and Eastern Europe". Party Politics. 14 (4): 417. doi:10.1177/1354068808090253. ISSN 1426-8876.
Instead, three new centre-right and right-wing parliamentary parties emerged: the liberal-conservative Civic Platform (PO), the national-social conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party, and the clerical-nationalist League of Polish Families (LPR).
- Tim Bale; Aleks Szczerbiak (2008). "Why Is There No Christian Democracy in Poland — and Why Should We Care?". Party Politics. 14 (4): 491. doi:10.1177/1354068808090256. ISSN 1460-3683.
At root, Civic Platform is a right-wing liberal or liberal-conservative, rather than an archetypal Christian Democratic, party.
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When it was established in 2001, the Civic Platform (PO) referred to liberal and conservative values. In its ideological declaration, Christian values were recognised as one of the canons.
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It was actually a conservative liberal party, with a moderate conservative agenda, and moderately anti-communist.
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Despite this, the two centre-right parties, the neoliberal Civic Platform (Platforma Obywatelska - PO) and Law and Justice Party (Prawo i Sprawiedliwosc - PIS), failed to offer any serious credible alternative.
- PO has often been described as neoliberal:
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In other words, on the policy and programme level the Civic Platform (PO) developed into a centre-right soft Thatcherite liberal, anti-communist, soft Christian nationalist and populist party.
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"Donald Tusk is toying with anti-migrant language to match the tone of the ruling Law and Justice party.
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On the other hand however, the victory of Civic Platform (CP) [Platforma Obywatelska] in the parliamentary elections in September 2007 had much to do with the promise of a new Ireland, our dream to come true. The fact that it was such a successful message and that it became a true banner of the victory allows us to see CP's success in terms of populism. (...) If we come back to Laclau's distinction one could even say that CP's populism and L&J's populism seek to attain what Laclau recognizes as unconceivable.
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