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Politics of Poland

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Government and Political conditions in 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 EU 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. Lague method[?] replaced the d'Hondt method, thus eliminating the premium for the top parties). The law stipulated that with the exception of guaranteed seats for small ethnic parties, only parties receiving at least 5% of the total vote could enter parliament. As of October 2001, eight parties and the German minority are represented in the Sejm.

Currently, Poland is lead by a coalition government, comprised of SLD-UP and PSL, under the leadership of Prime Minister Leszek Miller. The government maintains generally pro-market economic policies, has made EU accession and bringing Poland's financial house in order its priorities, and is committed to a democratic political system. The ruling coalition holds 256 seats in the Sejm and 75 seats in the Senate.

Along with SLD, other parties represented in parliament are: Citizens Platform (PO[?]), Self-defense (Samoobrona), Law and Justice (PiS), Polish Peasant Party (PSL), League of Polish Families (LPR), Union of Labor (UP), and Conservative Peasant Alliance (SKL).

Polands next parliamentary elections and presidential election are scheduled for 2005.

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.

Country name:
conventional long form: Republic of Poland
conventional short form: Poland
local long form: Rzeczpospolita Polska
local short form: Polska

Data code: PL

Government type: republic

Capital: Warsaw

Administrative divisions: 16 provinces (wojewodztwa, singular - wojewodztwo); Dolnoslaskie, Kujawsko-Pomorskie, Lodzkie[?], Lubelskie[?], Lubuskie, Malopolskie, Mazowieckie, Opolskie, Podkarpackie[?], Podlaskie[?], Pomorskie, Slaskie, Swietokrzyskie[?], Warminsko-Mazurskie, Wielkopolskie, Zachodniopomorskie

Independence: 11 November 1918 (independent republic proclaimed)

National holiday: Constitution Day, May 3 (1791); Independence Day, November 11 (1918)

Constitution: 16 October 1997; adopted by the National Assembly on 2 April 1997; passed by national referendum 23 May 1997

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 will become final as of October 1999; court decisions can be appealed to the European Court of Justice in Strasbourg

Suffrage: 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 Leszek Miller
cabinet: 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
elections: 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: bicameral National Assembly or Zgromadzenie Narodowe consists of the 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)
elections: Sejm elections last held 21 September 1997 (next to be held by NA September 2001); Senate - last held 21 September 1997 (next to be held by NA September 2001)
election results: Sejm - percent of vote by party - RS-AWS 33.8%, SLD 27.1%, UW 13.4%, PSL 7.3%, ROP 5.6%, MNSO 0.4%, other 12.4%; seats by party - AWS 201, SLD 164, UW 60, PSL 27, ROP 6, MNSO 2; Senate - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - AWS 51, SLD 28, UW 8, ROP 5, PSL 3, independents 5; note - seats by party in the Sejm as of January 2000: AWS 186, SLD 159, UW 60, PSL 26, PP 7, ROP 4, MNSO 2, KPN-O 5, PPS-RLP 3, other 8 (AWS doesn't exist any more and UW had splitted, so their members of parliament are in different parties, mostly PO, AWSP, PiS and UW)
note: two seats are assigned to ethnic minority parties

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:

  • Liberal and conservative-liberal post-solidarity parties:
    • Citizen's Platform (Platforma Obywatelska - PO), Adrzej Olechowski, Maciej
Płażyński, Donald Tusk
    • Freedom Union (Unia Wolnosci - UW),Władysław Frasyniuk
    • Convervative Peasant Party (Stronnictwo Konserwatywno-Ludowe - SKL) (allied with PO), Jan Maria Rokita
Law and Justice Jarosław Kaczyński
  • Socialdemocratic parties:
    • Democratic Left Alliance (Sojusz Lewicy Demokratycznej - SLD), Leszek Miller
    • Labor Union (Unia Pracy - UP) (allied with SLD), Marek Pol)

  • Parties representing mainly interests of peasants
    • Polish Peasant Party (Polskie Stronnictwo Ludowe)
    • Self-Defence (Samoobrona), Andrzej Lepper

Contemporary Polish politicians in alphabetical order: Artur Balazs[?], Leszek Balcerowicz[?], Jerzy Buzek[?], Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz[?], Aleksander Kwasniewski, Andrzej Lepper, Leszek Miller, Andrzej Olechowski[?], Marek Pol[?], Maciej Plazynski, Donald Tusk[?], Lech Walesa

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