Politics of Poland

From Academic Kids

Template:Politics of Poland The current government structure consists of a council of ministers led by a Prime Minister, typically chosen from a majority coalition in the bicameral legislature's lower house. The president elected every 5 years is head of state. The judicial branch plays a minor role in decisionmaking.

Former SLD leader Aleksander Kwasniewski was re-elected President in October 2000. Kwasniewski received in the first round 53.9% of the popular vote. In second place was Andrzej Olechowski -- 17.3%. President Kwasniewski has supported Polish membership in NATO and the European Union and backed the SLD's legislative agenda on issues such as redrafting the constitution and abortion liberalization.

The parliament, consisting of 460 members of the Sejm and 100 members of the Senate, was elected in September 2001 in free and fair elections in which 15 political parties participated. The new Constitution and the reformed administrative division (as of 1999) required a revision of the election ordinance (passed in April 2001). The most important changes were liquidation of a national list (all deputies were elected by voters in constituencies) and introduction of a new method of calculating seats (the modified St. League method replaced the d'Hondt method, thus eliminating the premium for the top parties). The law stipulated that with the exception of ethnic parties, only parties receiving at least 5% of the total vote could enter the Sejm. As of October 2001, eight parties and the German minority are represented in the Sejm.

Currently, Poland is led by a minority government, comprised of SLD-UP coalition, under the leadership of Prime Minister Marek Belka. The government maintains generally pro-market economic policies it priority is bringing Poland's financial house back in order and is committed to a democratic political system.

Previous cabinet led by Leszek Miller resigned on 2nd of May 2004, just after Poland's admission to the European Union. This move is said to be caused by numerous corruption scandals (which includes alleged attempt to interfere with legislation process (Rywin-gate, so named after main suspect Lew Rywin) -- this case was investigated by parliament's special committee, whose proceedings were televised; and SLD's MPs and government ministers informing members of their party about secret investigation about them and their links with organized crime) and falling support for SLD party.

In March some prominent SLD's politicians and MPs (including then Speaker of the Sejm: Marek Borowski) seceded from SLD creating new party Polish Social Democracy (Socjaldemokracja Polska) SDPL. This was the ultimate reason for Miller's resignation.

Belka's cabinet, failed to win parliamentary support with vote of confidence, and resigned. Attempts to form a new government by the Sejm had failed, and Belka was again designated (11 June) Prime Minister by the President. He finally received Sejm's support in third and last attempt on 24 June.

Along with SLD and SDPL, other parties represented in parliament are: Citizens Platform (Platforma Obywatelska - PO), League of Polish Families (Liga Polskich Rodzin - LPR), Law and Justice (Prawo i Sprwiedliwosc - PiS), Self-Defense of the Polish Republic (Samoobrona), Polish People's Party (Polskie Stronnictwo Ludowe - PSL), Labor Union (Unia Pracy - UP), and Conservative People's Alliance (SKL).

Polands next parliamentary elections and presidential election are scheduled for 2005, although Belka promised to ask for vote of confidence during the fall 2004, in order to permit government collapse and earlier elections.

Opinion polls, show the currently ruling post-communist will likely suffer a ignominious defeat and a coalition of conservatives and conservative-liberals will take power, with radical leftists coming in second. The Elections to the European elections in Poland, held on June 13, 2004 ended with a victory of the right, followed by surprisingly strong anti-EU, and votes of the left split between four different parties.


National Security

Poland's top national security goal is to further integrate with NATO and other west European defense, economic, and political institutions via a modernization and reorganization of its military. Polish military doctrine reflects the same defense nature as its NATO partners.

Poland maintains a sizable armed force currently numbering about 175,343 troops divided among an army of 96,733, an air and defense force of 39,649, and a navy of 15,980. The Ministry of Defense has announced that the armed forces of Poland will number 150,000 by 2006. Poland relies on military conscription for the majority of its personnel strength. All males (with some exceptions) are subject to a 12-month term of military service.

The Polish military continues to restructure and to modernize its equipment. The Polish Defense Ministry General Staff and the Land Forces staff have recently reorganized the latter into a NATO-compatible J/G-1 through J/G-6 structure. Budget constraints hamper such priority defense acquisitions as a multi-role fighter, improved communications systems, and an attack helicopter.

Poland continues to be a regional leader in support and participation in the NATO Partnership for Peace Program and has actively engaged most of its neighbors and other regional actors to build stable foundations for future European security arrangements. Poland continues its long record of strong support for UN Peacekeeping Operations by maintaining a unit in Southern Lebanon, a battalion in NATO's Kosovo Force (KFOR), and by providing and actually deploying the KFOR strategic reserve to Kosovo. Poland is a strong ally of the US in Europe and leads the Multinational Division Central South in Iraq

Fact Sheet


Country name:
conventional long form:
Republic of Poland
conventional short form:
local long form:
Rzeczpospolita Polska
local short form:
Data code:
Government type:

Administrative divisions

16 provinces (województwa, singular - województwo); Dolnoslaskie, Kujawsko-Pomorskie, Lodzkie, Lubelskie, Lubuskie, Malopolskie, Mazowieckie, Opolskie, Podkarpackie, Podlaskie, Pomorskie, Slaskie, Swietokrzyskie, Warminsko-Mazurskie, Wielkopolskie, Zachodniopomorskie


11 November 1918 (independent republic proclaimed)

National holidays

Constitution Day, May 3 (1791); Independence Day, November 11 (1918). See also Holidays in Poland.


16 October 1997; adopted by the National Assembly on 2 April 1997; passed by national referendum 23 May 1997. Full text of the 1997 constitution of Poland is available here (http://www.sejm.gov.pl/prawo/konst/angielski/kon1.htm).

Legal system

mixture of Continental (Napoleonic) civil law and holdover communist legal theory; changes being gradually introduced as part of broader democratization process; limited judicial review of legislative acts although under the new constitution, the Constitutional Tribunal ruling are final (since October 1999); court decisions can be appealed to the European Court of Justice in Strasbourg


18 years of age; universal

Executive branch

Chief of state

President Aleksander Kwasniewski (since 23 December 1995), currently partyless, former member of SLD

Head of government

Prime Minister Marek Belka


Council of Ministers responsible to the prime minister and the Sejm; the prime minister proposes, the president appoints, and the Sejm approves the Council of Ministers


President elected by popular vote for a five-year term; election first round held 5 November 1995, second round held 19 November 1995 (next to be held NA November 2000); prime minister and deputy prime ministers appointed by the president and confirmed by the Sejm

Election results

(only one turn)

  • Aleksander Kwasniewski - 53.90 % (elected president)
  • Andrzej Olechowski - 17.30 %
  • Marian Krzaklewski - 15.57 %
  • Jarosław Kalinowski - 5.95 %
  • Andrzej Lepper - 3.05 %
  • Janusz Korwin-Mikke - 1.43 %
  • Lech Wałęsa - 1.01 %
  • Jan Łopuszański - 0.79 %
  • Dariusz Grabowski - 0.51 %
  • Piotr Ikonowicz - 0.22 %
  • Tadeusz Wilecki - 0.16 %
  • Bogdan Pawłowski - 0.10 %

Legislative branch

A bicameral National Assembly or Zgromadzenie Narodowe consists of the Diet or Sejm (460 seats; members are elected under a complex system of proportional representation to serve four-year terms) and the Senate or Senat (100 seats; members are elected by a majority vote on a provincial basis to serve four-year terms).


Sejm elections last held 23 September 2001 (next to be held by September 2005); Senate - last held 23 September 2001 (next to be held by September 2005) Note: SLD has promissed to shorten the Parliament's term and held the elections in Spring 2005.

Election results

Sejm - SLD 216 (including 16 MP form UP), PO 65, Samoobrona 53, PiS 44, PSL 42, LPR 38, German minorities 2; Senate - SLD 75, "Senate 2001" (PO, PiS, UW, former AWS) 15, PSL 4, Samoobrona 2, LPR 2, independents 2

Judicial branch

Supreme Court, judges are appointed by the president on the recommendation of the National Council of the Judiciary for an indefinite period; Constitutional Tribunal, judges are chosen by the Sejm for nine-year terms

Political parties and leaders:

This list lists only parties with over 5% of support. Only those parties would qualify to Sejm in case of elections.

See for a more comprehensive overview
List of political parties of Poland

Conservative - Liberal parties

Conservative parties

Liberal democratic parties

Social democratic parties

Parties representing mainly interests of peasants

Contemporary Polish politicians in alphabetical order: Artur Balazs, Leszek Balcerowicz, Marek Belka, Marek Borowski, Jerzy Buzek, Włodzimierz Cimoszewicz, Jarosław Kaczyński, Lech Kaczyński, Janusz Korwin-Mikke, Aleksander Kwaśniewski, Andrzej Lepper, Leszek Miller, Andrzej Olechowski, Marek Pol, Maciej Płażyński, Jan Maria Rokita, Jerzy Szmajdziński, Donald Tusk, Lech Wałęsa, Stanislaw Wojtera

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