Polish parliamentary election, 2005

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Polish parliamentary election, 2005
← 2001 25 September 2005 2007 →

All 460 seats in the Sejm
231 seats were needed for a majority in the Sejm
All 100 seats in the Senate
Turnout 40.57%
  First party Second party Third party
  Kaczynski Jaroslaw 1 067.JPG Donald Tusk 3.jpg ALepper na stacji benzynowej.jpg
Leader Jarosław Kaczyński Donald Tusk Andrzej Lepper
Party PiS PO SRP
Leader since 18 January 2003 1 June 2003 10 January 1992
Leader's seat 19 – Warsaw I 25 – Gdansk 40 – Koszalin
Last election 44 seats, 9.5% 65 seats, 12.7% 53 seats, 10.2%
Seats won 155 133 56
Seat change Increase 111 Increase 68 Increase 3
Popular vote 3,185,714 2,849,269 1,347,355
Percentage 27.0% 24.1% 11.4%
Swing Increase 17.5% Increase 11.4% Increase 1.2%

  Fourth party Fifth party Sixth party
  Wojciech olejniczak.jpg Waldemar Pawlak candidate 2010 D crop.jpg
Leader Wojciech Olejniczak Roman Giertych Waldemar Pawlak
Leader since 29 May 2005 21 April 2001 29 January 2005
Leader's seat 11 – Sieradz 19 – Warsaw I 16 – Płock
Last election 216 seats, 41% 38 seats, 7.9% 42 seats, 9%
Seats won 55 34 25
Seat change Decrease 161 Decrease 4 Decrease 17
Popular vote 1,335,257 940,762 821,656
Percentage 11.3% 8.0% 7.0%
Swing Decrease 29.7% Increase 0.1% Decrease 2%

  Seventh party
Leader Henryk Kroll
Party MN
Leader since 27 October 1991
Leader's seat 21 – Opole
Last election 2 seats, 0.4%
Seats won 2
Seat change Steady
Popular vote 34,469
Percentage 0.3%
Swing Decrease 0.1%

Wybory sejm 2005 Barry Kent.png
Powiats won by

– Civic Platform – Law and Justice
– Polish People's Party – Democratic Left Alliance
– Self-Defense

– German Minority

Prime Minister before election

Marek Belka

New Prime Minister

Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz

Herb Polski.svg
This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of

Parliamentary elections were held in Poland on 25 September 2005.[1] Thirty million voters were eligible to vote for all 460 members of the lower house, the Sejm and all 100 members of the upper house, the Senate.

The election resulted in a sweeping victory for two parties of the centre-right, the national-conservative/populist Law and Justice (PiS) and the liberal-conservative Civic Platform (PO). The incumbent center-left government of the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) was soundly defeated in a landslide. The two victorious parties won 288 out of the 460 seats, while the SLD was reduced to fourth place with 55 seats. The PiS won 155 seats, while PO obtained 133.

Normally, this would have made PiS leader Jarosław Kaczyński Prime Minister. However, he declined the post so as not to prejudice his twin brother Lech's chances for the presidential election held later in October. In his place, Law and Justice instead nominated Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz for the post. Outgoing Prime Minister Marek Belka failed to win a seat in Łódź.

In the Senate, PiS won 49 seats and PO 34 of the 100 seats, leaving eight other parties with the remaining 17 seats. The SLD won no seats in the Senate.


The 2005 Sejm was elected by proportional representation from multi-member constituencies, with seats divided among parties which gain more than five percent of the votes using the d'Hondt method. On the other hand, the Senate is elected under first-past-the-post bloc voting. This tends to cause the party or coalition which wins the elections to have a larger majority in the Senate than in the Sejm.

In the 2001 elections the SLD and UP won 216 of the 460 seats, and were able to form a government with the support of the Polish People's Party (PSL). The former ruling party, Solidarity Electoral Action (AWS) based on the Solidarity trade union, lost all its seats. In its place several new right-wing parties emerged, such as the PO and the PiS.

After 2003 a variety of factors combined to bring about a collapse of support for the government. Discontent with high unemployment, government spending cuts (especially on health, education and welfare), affairs related to privatizations was compounded by a series of corruption scandals, the most serious of them being Rywin-gate. Prime Minister Leszek Miller resigned in May 2004 and was succeeded by Marek Belka. All opinion polls suggested that the governing SLD-UP coalition would be heavily defeated at these elections and that the right-wing parties would win a large majority. With the expected downfall of the post-communists, the right-wing parties competed mainly against each other.


The parties running in this election were mainly the same as in 2001, with the addition of Social Democracy of Poland (a splinter group from the Democratic Left Alliance), and the Democratic Party formed from the Freedom Union (UW) and some SLD dissidents. Both these new parties failed to win seats.

The BBC commented on election day: "The two centre-right parties are both rooted in the anti-communist Solidarity movement but differ on issues such as the budget and taxation. Law and Justice, whose agenda includes tax breaks and state aid for the poor, has pledged to uphold traditional family and Christian values. It is suspicious of economic liberalism. The Citizens Platform strongly promotes free market forces and wants to introduce a flat 15% rate for income tax, corporation tax and VAT. It also promises to move faster on deregulation and privatisation, in order to adopt the euro as soon as possible."

Opinion polls[edit]


Party Sejm Senate
Votes % Seats +/– Votes % Seats +/–
Law and Justice 3,185,714 27.0 155 +111 5,020,704 20.8 49
Civic Platform 2,849,259 24.1 133 +68 4,090,497 16.9 34
Self-Defense of the Republic of Poland 1,347,355 11.4 56 +3 2,016,858 8.3 3 +1
Democratic Left Alliance 1,335,257 11.3 55 –161 3,114,118 12.9 0 –75
League of Polish Families 940,762 8.0 34 –4 2,990,092 12.4 7 +5
Polish People's Party 821,656 7.0 25 –17 1,413,872 5.9 2 –2
Social Democracy of Poland 459,380 3.9 0 New 573,556 2.4 0 New
Democratic Party 289,276 2.5 0 New 683,799 2.8 0 NJew
Janusz Korwin-Mikke Platform 185,885 1.6 0 New 375,037 1.6 0 New
Patriotic Movement 124,038 1.1 0 New 234,093 1.0 0 New
Polish Labour Party 91,266 0.8 0 New 11,765 0.1 0
German Minority 34,469 0.3 2 0 88,875 0.4 0
Polish National Party 34,127 0.3 0 New 168,413 0.7 0 New
Ancestral Home 32,863 0.3 0 New 181,337 0.8 0 New
Centre 21,893 0.2 0 New 246,143 1.0 0 New
All-Poland Civic Coalition 16,251 0.1 0 New 65,561 0.3 0 New
Party Initiative of the Republic of Poland 11,914 0.1 0 New 45,712 0.2 0 New
Polish Confederation - Dignity and Work 8,353 0.1 0 New 10,528 0.0 0 New
National Revival of Poland 7,376 0.1 0 New
German Minority of Silesia 5,581 0.1 0 0
Labour Party 1,019 0.0 0 New
Social Rescuers 982 0.0 0 New 18,439 0.1 0 New
Local lists and independents 2,792,572 11.7 5 +3
Invalid/blank votes 440,227 426,054
Total 12,244,903 100 460 0 12,262,311 100 100 0
Registered voters/turnout 30,229,031 40.6 30,229,031 40.6
Source: Nohlen & Stöver
Popular vote (Sejm)
Parliament seats (Sejm)

Had the two leading parties been able to form a coalition, as expected, it would have had 62.6 percent of seats in the Assembly, just short of the two-thirds supermajority required to carry out more ambitious projects, such as constitutional reform, but this was not to be (see below). The populist and isolationist Self-Defense of the Polish Republic (Samoobrona) slightly improved its representation and became the third largest party ahead of the SLD, which despite losing most of its seats performed slightly better than suggested in opinion polls. It has, however, lost all its Senate seats. The League of Polish Families and the Polish People's Party retained their representation. The German minority in Poland is exempt from the requirement of achieving at least 5% of the total vote and retained their 2 seats.

Distribution of the vote[edit]

Although PiS and PO were the clear winners, their vote was very unevenly distributed, creating a basis for future conflicts. Their support is overwhelmingly concentrated in the cities, particularly Warsaw and the southern industrial areas around Kraków and Katowice, but also including Gdańsk, Gdynia, Poznań, Wrocław and Szczecin. The only urban centre not to endorse the right was Łódź. The two main parties failed to win a majority in any rural district except Rzeszów in the south. In seven rural districts they polled less the 40 percent of the vote, while in one (Chełm) they polled less than 35 percent. Self-Defence managed to win in four districts. The vote shows the continuing sharp divide in Polish politics between urban voters, who are generally more socially liberal and in favour of free-market economics, and rural voters, who are more socially conservative and economically left-wing.


Negotiations between PiS and PO about forming the new government collapsed in late October, precipitated by disagreement regarding who would be speaker of the Sejm. On 1 November the PiS announced a minority government headed by Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz as the new Prime Minister. The negotiations were affected by the 9 October presidential election, where the PiS victor Lech Kaczyński is the twin brother of the PiS leader Jarosław Kaczyński; Jarosław Kaczyński had declared that he would not become the Prime Minister if his brother wins the election. The constitutional requirement to form a government within a set time period also heated up the coalition negotiations.

A major stumbling block against forming a coalition was the PO's insistence on receiving the Interior portfolio if it were to enter a coalition government with the PiS, to prevent one party from controlling all three of the "power" ministries (Security, Justice and Interior) that control the police and security services. The PO also opposed a "tactical alliance" between the PiS and Samoobrona, who share eurosceptic and populists sentiments, although differing on economic policy. The election campaign, in which both centre-right parties competed mainly against each other rather than parties on the left, accentuated differences and created an antagonistic relationship between the two parties.

The minority government depended on the support of the radical Samoobrona and the deeply conservative League of Polish Families (LPR) to govern, a situation that made many of those hoping for a PiS/PO coalition uneasy. On 5 May 2006 PiS formed a coalition government with Samoobrona and LPR.

In July 2006, Marcinkiewicz tendered his resignation, following reports of a rift with PiS party leader Kaczyński. Kaczyński formed a new government and was sworn-in on July 14, finally becoming prime minister.

The SLD's severe defeat sent the party into a sharp decline from which it has never recovered; it ultimately lost all of its remaining seats in 2015.

Further reading[edit]


  1. ^ Nohlen, D & Stöver, P (2010) Elections in Europe: A data handbook, p1491 ISBN 978-3-8329-5609-7

External links[edit]