POLAND
Parliamentary Chamber: Sejm

ELECTIONS HELD IN 1993

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Chamber:
  Sejm


Dates of elections / renewal (from/to):

  19 September 1993


Purpose of elections:

  Elections were held for all the seats in Parliament following the premature dissolution of the Sejm on 31 May 1993. Since general elections had previously been held in October 1991, the normal legislative term was due to expire four years later.


Background and outcome of elections:

  The Sejm (Diet) was dissolved by President of the Republic Lech Walesa after the former had passed a vote of no confidence in the Government (Resolution of 28 May 1993) without at the same time choosing a new Prime Minister. In such cases, the Constitution enables the President to either accept the resignation of the Government or to dissolve the Diet. Such dissolution also automatically entails renewal of the Senate.

The elections – initially set for 12 September – were carried out according to a new Electoral Law adopted by the Sejm two days before its dissolution. By setting minimum thresholds for Sejm participation, the new law sought to avoid political fragmentation of the legislature, giving an advantage to strong political parties and groupings.

Main issues debated during the election campaign concerned the scope and pace of the country’s economic transformation (especially privatisation), social policy (unemployment, situation of public sector employees) and Poland’s relationship to the European integration process (balancing the necessary protection of national sectors with the inevitable opening of the economy). Altogether 8,787 candidates and 861 lists vied for the 460 Diet seats while 684 candidates contested the 100 seats of the Senate. While no serious incidents were reported during the campaign, there were slight irregularities at the stage of registration of candidates.

On polling day, only five parties and one coalition – the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD), led by the Social Democratic Party and also comprising two cultural organisations of the German minority – won seats in the Sejm as voters swung sharply to the left and away from right-wing parties, those which had participated in various coalition governments since 1989, and the Catholic Church. The Social Democrats were the direct successors of the communist Polish United Workers’ Party (PZPR). The big winners were the SLD, headed by Mr. Aleksander Kwasniewski, and the Polish Peasant Party (PSL), which had formerly been allied with the PZPR and was led by Mr. Waldemar Pawlak. Electoral support for these parties almost doubled since the previous elections. For its part, the outgoing ruling coalition, led by Prime Minister Hanna Suchocka’s centrist Democratic Union (UD), came in third in a defeat that analysts viewed as a reaction to social and economic hardship caused by the Government’s rapid moves to a market economy and its stringent monetary and fiscal discipline; SLD had in fact campaigned on a platform of moderate increases in social spending to blunt this hardship. Finally the Labour Union (UP) made considerable progress: in 1991 its predecessor Labour Solidarity had won only 2% of the votes. More than one third of the votes cast in the 1993 Sejm elections were ineffective because they went for parties that did not reach the above-mentioned threshold.

The Government coalition was formed by SLD and PSL. Mr. Pawlak was nominated as Prime Minister on 18 October. Members of the Council of Ministers were named by the President on 26 October.

STATISTICS
Round no 1 (19 September 1993): Elections results  
Number of registered electors 27,677,302
Voters 14,415,586 (52.08%)
Blank or invalid ballot papers 619,359
Valid votes 13,796,227

Round no 1: Distribution of votes  
Political Group Candidates Votes %
Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) 610 2,815,169 20.4
Polish Peasant Party (PSL) 719 2,124,367 15.4
Democratic Union (UD) 498 1,460,957 10.6
Labour Union (UP)* 491 1,005,004 7.3
Confederation for an Independent Poland (KPN) 697 795,487 5.8
Non-Party Bloc in Support of Reforms (BBWR) 631 746,653 5.4
German minority organisations 21 84,166 0.61

Round no 1: Distribution of seats  
Political Group Total Gain/Loss
Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) 171 +111
Polish Peasant Party (PSL) 132 +84
Democratic Union (UD) 74 +12
Labour Union (UP)* 41 +37
Confederation for an Independent Poland (KPN) 22 -24
Non-Party Bloc in Support of Reforms (BBWR) 16 +16
German minority organisations 4 -3

Comments:
  * Labour Solidarity (SP) in 1991.

Distribution of seats according to sex:  
Men: 400
Women: 60

Distribution of seats according to age:  
20-29 years 10
30-39 years 117
40-49 years 213
50-59 years 92
60-69 years 26
70-79 years 2


Distribution of seats according to profession:

 
Farmers 60
Managers 56
University professors 42
Trade union activists 34
Teachers 30
Political activists 26
Public administration employees 21
Self-government employees 21
Businessmen 17
Journalists 17
Lawyers 17
Scientists (research) 14
Physicians 13
Economists 9
Social organisation activists 8
Engineers 7
Mayors 7
White-collar workers 7
Bankers 4
Others 50


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Copyright 1993 Inter-Parliamentary Union