Polish People's Party

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Polish People's Party
Polskie Stronnictwo Ludowe
LeaderWładysław Kosiniak-Kamysz
Founded1895 (original form)
1990 (current form)
Merger of
Preceded byUnited People's Party
Headquartersul. Kopernika 36/40, 00-924 Warsaw
Membership (2016)100,320[1]
Ideology
Political positionCentre-right
Historical:
Centre-left[3]
National affiliationPolish Coalition
Senate Pact 2023 (for 2023 Senate election)
Third Way
European affiliationEuropean People's Party
European Parliament groupEuropean People's Party
Colours
  •   Aquamarine[a]
  •   Green[b]
Anthem"Rota"
Sejm
28 / 460
[4]
Senate
4 / 100
European Parliament
3 / 52
Regional assemblies
68 / 552
Voivodes
2 / 16
Voivodeship Marshals
2 / 16
Website
www.psl.pl

The Polish People's Party (Polish: Polskie Stronnictwo Ludowe, PSL) is an agrarian political party in Poland.[5] It is currently led by Władysław Kosiniak-Kamysz.

Its history traces back to 1895, when it held the name People's Party, although its name was changed to the present one in 1903. During the Second Polish Republic, the Polish People's Party was represented by a number of parties that held its name. They were all supportive of agrarian policies, although they spanned from the left-wing to the centre-right on the political spectrum. It was reformed to the People's Party shortly after the Sanacja regime took power. It took part into the formation of Polish government-in-exile during the World War II, and after the war it was again reformed into the Polish People's Party, and soon after into the United People's Party. During the existence of the Polish People's Republic, it was seen as a satellite party of the ruling Polish United Workers' Party that promoted rural interests. After the fall of communism, it participated in the governments led by the Democratic Left Alliance. In the mid-2000s, it began shifting more to the centre-right and it adopted more conservative policies. It entered in the government again following the 2007 parliamentary election, and since 2015 it has served in the opposition.

Today, it is positioned in the centre[6] and leans towards the centre-right,[7][8][9] and besides holding agrarian and conservative views,[10][11][12] it is also Christian-democratic,[13][14][15] and supports Poland's membership in the European Union.[16] It currently has 19 seats in the Sejm and two seats in the Senate. On national level, it heads the Polish Coalition and on European level, it is a part of the European People's Party.

History[edit]

Before 1945[edit]

The party's name traces its tradition to an agrarian party in Austrian-controlled Kingdom of Galicia, which sent MPs to the parliament in Vienna.[17] The party was formed in 1895 in the Polish town of Rzeszow under the name Stronnictwo Ludowe (People's Party). The party changed its name in 1903 to what it's known as now. The party was led by Wincenty Witos and was quite successful, seating representatives in the Galician parliament before the turn of the 19th century. In the Second Polish Republic there were a few parties named PSL (Polish People's Party "Wyzwolenie", Polish People's Party "Piast", Polish People's Party "Left" and others) until they were removed by the Sanacja regime (see also People's Party).[17]

During this time, there were two parties using the term "Polish People's Party", namely Polish People's Party "Piast" and Polish People's Party "Wyzwolenie" (which were merged into People's Party with Stronnictwo Chłopskie). During World War II, PSL took part in forming the Polish government in exile.[17]

Under the communist regime[edit]

Support for the PSL by region in 2007 Polish parliamentary election

In June 1945 after the war Stanisław Mikołajczyk, a PSL leader who had been Prime Minister of the Polish government in exile, returned to communist-dominated Poland, where he joined the provisional government and rebuilt PSL. The party hoped to win the Yalta Conference-mandated elections and help establish a parliamentary system in Poland. However, the party soon found itself targeted with intimidation, arrests and violence by the communist secret police.[18]

The communists also formed a rival ersatz 'Peasants' party' controlled by them, in order to confuse voters. The January 1947 parliamentary election was heavily rigged, with the communist-controlled bloc claiming to have won 80 percent of the vote. The PSL were said to have won just 10 percent of the vote, but many neutral observers believe the PSL would have won the election had it been conducted fairly.[17]

Mikołajczyk was soon compelled to flee Poland for his life in October 1947. The communists then forced the remains of Mikołajczyk's PSL to unite with the pro-communist People's Party to form the United People's Party. The ZSL was a governing partner in the ruling coalition.[19]

Post-communist period (1990–2003)[edit]

Around the time of the fall of communism several PSLs were recreated, including Porozumienie Ludowe, Polskie Stronnictwo Ludowe-Odrodzenie, and Polskie Stronnictwo Ludowe (Wilanów faction). In 1989 most merged into one party and took part in forming the first postwar noncommunist government in Poland with the Solidarity grouping, and in 1990 changed its name to PSL.[20][21]

It remained on the left of Polish politics in the 1990s, entering into coalitions with the postcommunist Democratic Left Alliance.[22][23][24] In the 2001 parliamentary elections, PSL received 9% of votes and formed a coalition with the Democratic Left Alliance, an alliance which later broke down. Since then, PSL has moved towards more centrist and conservative policies.

Opposition years (2003–2007)[edit]

The party ran in the 2004 European Parliament election as part of the European People's Party (EPP) and received 6% of the vote, giving it four of 54 Polish seats in the European Parliament.[22][25] In the 2005 general election, the party received 7% of votes, giving it 25 seats in the Sejm and two in the Senate. In the 2007 parliamentary elections, the party placed fourth, with 8.93% of the vote and 31 out of 460 seats, and entered into a governing coalition with the victor, the centre-right conservative Civic Platform.[26] In European parliament elections PSL received 7.01% of votes in 2009.[27] In the 2011 national parliamentary election, Polish People's Party received 8.36% votes which gave them 28 seats in the Sejm and two mandates in the Senate.[28]

Coalition government (2007–2015)[edit]

After the parliamentary elections in 2007, PSL won 8.91% of the popular vote and 31 seats,[29] it joined the government coalition led by Civic Platform. Waldemar Pawlak was appointed deputy prime minister, Marek Sawicki was appointed as agriculture minister, and Jolanta Fedak was appointed as labor minister. In the 2009 European Parliament election, it won 3 seats.[30] After the Smolensk air disaster, presidential elections were held in which Pawlak placed fifth, winning 1.75% of the vote. In the second round they didn't state their support for anyone.[31]

In the 2010 local government elections, PSL obtained 16.3% of the votes in the elections to voivodship assemblies, in which it received 93 seats. In the Świętokrzyskie sejmik, the party received the most seats. In all parliamentary assemblies, PSL found itself in ruling coalitions with the PO, in four voivodeships receiving the positions of marshals. In the elections to poviat councils, the PSL committee obtained 15.88%, and in the elections to municipal councils 11% of the votes. The PSL won the largest number of village leaders (428) and mayors in the country, and in Zgierz, the party's candidate won the presidential election. In 2011, a PiS senator defected to PSL.[32]

In the parliamentary elections of 2011, PSL obtained 8.36% of votes on the list of candidates for the Sejm.[33] The party also won two seats in the Senate.[34] Eugeniusz Grzeszczak became the deputy speaker of the Sejm on behalf of the PSL.[35] PSL again became a partner of the PO in the government coalition. On December 7, 2011, as a result of the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty, Arkadiusz Bratkowski, a PSL politician, assumed a mandate in the European Parliament.[36]

In July 2012, Stanisław Kalemba replaced Marek Sawicki as the minister of agriculture and rural development. Pawlak was defeated during the presidential election by Janusz Piechociński.[37] Two days later, Waldemar Pawlak announced his resignation as deputy prime minister and minister of economy. He was dismissed from both functions on November 27. On December 6, both these offices were taken over by Janusz Piechociński.

In January 2014, PSL decided to establish cooperation with SKL and Samoobrona, but SKL already in February announced that Jarosław Gowin joined Poland Together, and the PSL talks about a joint election campaign with Samoobrona did not end with an agreement. In March, MP Andrzej Dąbrowski left PSL.[38] The party's candidate in the 2015 presidential election was the marshal of the Świętokrzyskie Province, party vice president Adam Jarubas.[39] He placed 6th, obtaining 238,761 votes.[40] Before the second round, PSL was involved in the campaign of the then-incumbent President Bronisław Komorowski.[41]

Modern period (2015–present)[edit]

At the 2015 parliamentary election, the PSL dropped to 5.13 percent of the vote, just barely over the 5 percent threshold. With 16 seats, it was the smallest of the five factions in the Sejm.[42]

Since then PSL has lost even more support to PiS during the 2018 Polish local elections when they lost 87 seats and dropped to 12.07% unlike the 23.9% they got at the last local elections. After this, the party became a junior partner in coalition with the Civic Coalition and SLD.

In 2019 European election, PSL won 3 seats as a part of the European Coalition.[43]

For parliamentary elections in the same year, PSL decided to create a centrist and Christian-democratic coalition called the Polish Coalition.[44] The Polish Coalition, apart from PSL, consisted of Kukiz'15, Union of European Democrats and other liberal, catholic and regionalist organisations.[45][46][47] The coalition managed to get 30 Sejm members elected, 20 of whom were members of PSL.

In November 2020, PSL decided to end coalition with Kukiz'15 due to differences on negotiations on EU budget.[48]

Ideology[edit]

The Polish People's Party adhered to principles of social democracy and agrarian socialism during the 1990s, although it has moved towards Christian democracy in the 2000s.[49][50][51] It was positioned on the left-wing on the political spectrum during that period. As late as 2011, the party was still described as "a left-wing party, representing an agrarian socialist agenda, although it is also known for its social conservatism".[52] Up to 2008, the party also opposed liberalism, denouncing it as "primitive social Darwinism and warning against a liberal state where "people are subordinated to the market". After 2008, the Polish People's Party started drifting towards centrism, abandoning its criticism of economic liberalism and its agrarian socialist vision of Polish economy.[53]

The origin of the party's pivot was in late 2000s, as the party's anti-liberal slogan was overshadowed by the one of right-wing populist Law and Justice, while agrarian socialism became the staple of the far-left Self-Defence of the Republic of Poland, which would form an anti-liberal government together with Law and Justice and League of Polish Families in 2005. PSL started cooperating with the Civic Platform at this time - a party based on liberal and conservative ideas; this forced PSL to tone down its rhetoric as to avoid attacking the anticipated future coalition partner.[54] Political analysis of the party's rhetoric in 2006 found that the party would increasingly embrace liberalism in place of its hitherto economically left-wing program, which placed the party closer to the Civic Platform and other centre-right parties. This was in stark contrast to a fellow agrarian party Self-Defence of the Republic of Poland, which espoused conservatively socialist views.[55]

The party's platform is strongly based on agrarianism.[56] On social and ethical issues, PSL is attached to more social conservative values,[52] as it opposes abortion (although it is against its criminalization, defending the current abortion law in Poland[57]), legalisation of same-sex marriage, euthanasia, death penalty,[58] and soft drug decriminalisation.[59] The party is in favour of maintaining religion lessons in public education.[58] In 2019, the party adopted (as part of an agreement with Kukiz'15) in the party's platform direct democracy's postulates, including introducing single-member districts, electronic voting and obligatory referendums.[60]

Moreover, during the leadership of Kosiniak-Kamysz, who took over after 2015 elections, PSL has visibly started leaning towards economic liberalism in order to gain voters in bigger cities.[61] Kosiniak-Kamysz himself has described party's ideology as "moderately centrist"[62][63] and Christian democratic.[64]

Election results[edit]

Support[edit]

The Party's traditional support base consisted of farmers, peasants and rural voters. Voters are generally more social conservative than voters of Civic Platform.[65] Its main competitor in rural areas is the national conservative Law and Justice (PiS).[66]

In the 2010s the party started to lose support between rural voters (especially in southeast of Poland, e.g. Subcarpathian Voivodeship). In 2019 election PSL gained surprisingly significant support in cities and won mandates (e. g. in Warsaw and Wrocław).[67] Leader: Władysław Kosiniak-Kamysz Vice-Leaders: Andrzej Grzyb Krzysztof Hetman Adam Jarubas Dariusz Klimczak Urszula Pasławska Adam Struzik Secretaries: Stefan Krajewski Piotr Zgorzelski Treasurer: Henryk Kiepura Chairman of the Presidium of the General Council: Waldemar Pawlak Vice-Chairmans of the Presidium of the General Council: Henryk Janowicz Radosław Krol Czesław Siekierski Zofia Szalczyk Secretaries of the Presidium of the General Council: Miłosz Motyka Adam Nowak National Dyscipinary Officer: Stanisław Rakoczy

Sejm[edit]

Election year Leader # of
votes
% of
vote
# of
overall seats won
+/– Government
1991 Waldemar Pawlak 972,952 8.7 (#5)
48 / 460
New UD
1993 2,124,367 15.4 (#2)
132 / 460
Increase 84 SLDPSLUP
1997 956,184 7.3 (#4)
27 / 460
Decrease 105 AWSUW
2001 Jarosław Kalinowski 1,168,659 9.0 (#5)
42 / 460
Increase 15 SLD–UPPSL (2001-2003)
SLD–UP (2003-2005)
2005 Waldemar Pawlak 821,656 7.0 (#6)
25 / 460
Decrease 17 PiS minority (2005-2006)
PiSSRPLPR (2006-2007)
2007 1,437,638 8.9 (#4)
31 / 460
Increase 6 POPSL
2011 1,201,628 8.4 (#4)
28 / 460
Decrease 3 POPSL
2015 Janusz Piechociński 779,875 5.1 (#6)
16 / 460
Decrease 12 PiS
2019 Władysław Kosiniak-Kamysz 972,339 5.3 (#4)
19 / 460
Increase 3 PiS
As part of Polish Coalition, which won 30 seats in total.
2023 1,189,629 5.5 (#3)
28 / 460
Increase 9 KOPL2050KPNL
As part of Third Way, which won 65 seats in total.

Senate[edit]

Election year # of
overall seats won
+/–
1991
7 / 100
Increase 4
1993
36 / 100
Increase 29
1997
3 / 100
Decrease 33
2001
4 / 100
Increase 1
2005
2 / 100
Decrease 2
2007
0 / 100
Decrease 2
2011
2 / 100
Increase 2
2015
1 / 100
Decrease 1
2019[68][69]
2 / 100
Increase 1
2023[70]
4 / 100
Increase 2

Presidential[edit]

Election year Candidate 1st round 2nd round
# of overall votes % of overall vote # of overall votes % of overall vote
1990 Roman Bartoszcze 1,176,175 7.2 (#5)
1995 Waldemar Pawlak 770,419 4.3 (#5)
2000 Jarosław Kalinowski 1,047,949 6.0 (#4)
2005 Jarosław Kalinowski 269,316 1.8 (#5)
2010 Waldemar Pawlak 294,273 1.8 (#5)
2015 Adam Jarubas 238,761 1.6 (#6)
2020 Władysław Kosiniak-Kamysz 459,365 2.4 (#5)

Regional assemblies[edit]

Election year % of
vote
# of
overall seats won
+/–
1998 12.0 (#3)
89 / 855
As part of the Social Alliance.
2002 10.8 (#5)
58 / 561
Decrease 31
2006 13.2 (#4)
83 / 561
Increase 25
2010 16.3 (#3)
93 / 561
Increase 10
2014 23.9 (#3)
157 / 555
Increase 64
2018 12.1 (#3)
70 / 552
Decrease 87

European Parliament[edit]

Election year # of
votes
% of
vote
# of
overall seats won
+/–
2004 386,340 6.3 (#7)
4 / 54
2009 516,146 7.0 (#4)
3 / 50
Decrease 1
2014 480,846 6.8 (#5)
4 / 51
Increase 1
2019 5,249,935 38.5 (#2)
3 / 52
Decrease 1
As the European Coalition which won 22 seats in total

Leadership[edit]

Chairman:

Voivodeship Marshals[edit]

Name Image Voivodeship Date Vocation
Adam Struzik Masovian Voivodeship 10 December 2001
Gustaw Marek Brzezin Warmian-Masurian Voivodeship 12 December 2014

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ since 2019
  2. ^ before 2019

References[edit]

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