Polish legislative election, 1919

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Parliamentary elections were held in Poland on 26 January 1919,[1] electing the first Sejm of the Second Polish Republic. The elections, based on universal suffrage and proportional representation, was the first free election in the country's history. It produced a parliament balanced between the right, left and center, although the elections were boycotted by the Polish communists and the Jewish Bund. In the territories where the election took place, voter turnout was from 70% to 90%. Right-wing parties won 50% of votes, left-wing parties around 30%, and Jewish organizations more than 10%.[2]

Background[edit]

In 1919, the borders of the newly restored Polish state were not yet established. As a result, the government of Poland led by Jozef Pilsudski had problems creating the electoral districts. Upon a decree, signed by Pilsudski on 28 November 1918, Poland was divided into several districts, some of whom were not even part of the country. The list of these districts presents a declaration of Polish territorial claims rather than real situation of late 1918. It covers the whole territory of the Kingdom of Poland (1916–1918), formerly Russian Belostok Oblast, as well as whole former Austrian province of Galicia, even though its eastern part was area of a conflict between Poles and Ukrainians (see Polish–Ukrainian War).

The situation was even more complicated in the West, in territories which had belonged to the German Empire. Polish legislators created there several electoral districts, even in lands that never became part of the Second Polish Republic. Thus, apart from districts of Poznań, Toruń, Kartuzy, Katowice, and Gostyń, the government stipulated creation of districts in such locations, as Bytom (Beuthen), Nysa, Złotów (Flatow), Gdańsk (Danzig), and Olsztyn (Allenstein).[2] The 1919 election was not organized in these areas, as they remained part of Germany until 1945.

Furthermore, Polish legislators wanted the election to be organized in whole Cieszyn Silesia (see also Zaolzie). Therefore, districts were created there in Cieszyn and Frydek-Mistek. Also, the Nowy Targ district covered several communes of Orawa, and Spisz, with such towns, as Kežmarok, Stará Ľubovňa, and Spišská Nová Ves (these locations had been part of Poland until the late 18th century).

Results[edit]

Party Votes % Seats
Popular National Union 1,616,157 29.0 140
Polish People's Party "Wyzwolenie" 839,914 15.1 59
Jewish National Council 602,927 10.8 11
Polish Socialist Party 515,062 9.2 35
Peasants' Lists 234,399 4.2 0
Polish People's Party "Piast" 232,983 4.2 46
Polish United Party 212,097 3.8 35
Polish People's Party "Left" 197,838 3.5 12
Catholic People's Party 102,292 1.8 18
German National Minority 96,677 1.7 2
National Workers' Union 67,285 1.2 32
Local lists and independents 863,349 15.5 4
Invalid/blank votes
Total 5,580,980 100 394
Registered voters/turnout
Source: Nohlen & Stöver

Aftermath[edit]

The resulting parliament came to be known as the Legislative Sejm (Sejm Ustawodawczy). Among the first tasks of the Sejm was creation of the constitution, and the Small Constitution of 1919 was ratified ten days after the first session, on 20 February 1919. In 1921 parliament ratified the more comprehensive but also more controversial—supported by the Right, opposed by the Left—March Constitution of Poland.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Dieter Nohlen; Philip Stöver (31 May 2010). Elections in Europe: A Data Handbook. Nomos. p. 1491. ISBN 978-3-8329-5609-7. Retrieved 6 November 2012. 
  2. ^ a b 80th Anniversary of inauguration of the Polish Parliament Sejm of Poland

Further reading[edit]

  • A. J. Groth, Polish Elections 1919-1928, Slavic Review, Vol. 24, No. 4 (December 1965), pp653–665
  • Hubert Zawadzki A Concise History of Poland p223

External links[edit]