Poland, Autumn 2011: the Political Situation after the General Elections - European Integration



Poland, Autumn 2011: the Political Situation after the General Elections

Agnieszka Rochon

Election results: confirmation before change
Poland went to the polls on 9 October. The victor was the PO (the liberal conservative Civic Platform) with 39.18% of the vote and 206 seats in the new parliament.  The PSL (the moderate Polish People’s Party) managed, despite fears to the contrary, to overcome the 5 percent hurdle by gaining 8.36% of the vote giving it 28 seats in the new parliament. Together these two parties have 234 of the 460 seats and a narrow but sufficient majority to form a government. The fact that there will be no change in government after the election is viewed as a victory for the ruling PO and at the same time proof that the Polish political scene has stabilised.

The PiS (the national conservative Law and Justice Party) will, with its 30% of the vote and 158 parliamentary seats be the second largest party in the Sejm (Polish parliament). The PiS has demonstrated its political strength but is viewed, however, as the loser of the election. The result was a long way from attaining party chief Kaczynski’s election goal of taking over power and forming a government.

A new party, the Palikot Movement, taking an anticlerical stand in a country in which the majority describe themselves as catholic obtained 10.2% of the vote and 41 seats, making it the third largest political force. This was the biggest surprise of the election and for many the Palikot Movement was the real winner. 

The post communist SLD (Democratic Left Alliance) failed to make a new start. On the contrary with only 8.25% of the votes it posted its worst result since 1989. This SLD defeat can no longer be explained by waning support for the left. It is more a demonstration of a positive political trend with the left demanding a more emancipated and modern society.

All in all, little has changed in the political composition of parliament. The preponderance of the right (those with conservative values) is as large as in previous years. Together the liberal-conservative PO, the national conservative PiS and the moderate PSL took almost 80% of the votes. With barely 20%, the left’s representation in parliament is very weak.  In addition, post its election defeat, the SLD is decimated and lost its way. Palikot’s protest party can only be described as ‘limited left’, given the nature of its economic liberal demands.

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Agnieszka Rochon
was born in Krakow in 1963 where she studied German at the Jagiellonian University (1982-89).  For three terms, 1988-89, she studied at the Technical University in Berlin where she saw first hand the fall of the Berlin wall and the unification of Germany.  From 1990 to 2001 she lived mostly in Berlin and worked as a freelance politics lecturer for a number of organisations and institutions. From 1996-2010 Agnieszka Rochon was employed by the Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung, first in Gottingen and later Berlin dealing with central Europe and from 2001-10 as head of the Warsaw office.  Since the middle of 2010 she has been living in Cracow and is adviser to the Greens/EFA in the European Parliament on the Polish Presidency.

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