Poland. The year began dramatically for Poland's powerful
Catholic Church. When Warsaw Archbishop Stanisław Wielgus
was formally installed in his office in early January, he
resigned instead. The reason was revelations in the press
that he was cooperating with the former Communist regime's
CountryAAH, the Archbishop's prayer followed the Conservative
government's determination to settle with Poland's communist
past. According to a new law from the turn of the year,
hundreds of thousands of people in different professional
groups must report whether they have cooperated with the
security service. Anyone who refused or gave false
information risked losing their employment. The law was met
by harsh criticism. The twin brothers Kaczyński, President
Lech and Prime Minister Jarosław, were accused of crusading
against political opponents. The opposition appealed against
the law and in May the Constitutional Court rejected large
parts of it.
In February, the unstable government was reformed for the
ninth time since taking office just over a year earlier. The
Minister of Defense as well as the Minister of the Interior
left their posts with reference to strong disagreements with
Prime Minister Kaczyński.
Foreign policy in Poland was hot in the air when it was
revealed at the beginning of the year that the government
was holding talks with the United States on the placement of
a future anti-robot system in Poland and the Czech Republic.
Russian President Vladimir Putin accused the United States
of new armor, and Moscow signaled that it could respond by
placing Russian robots in Kaliningrad, bordering Poland. In
June, US President George W. Bush visited Poland and,
together with President Kaczyński, assured that the new
anti-robot system was not a threat to Russia.
Poland's tense relationship with Russia also affected the
EU's relations with Moscow. Russia had previously stopped
imports of Polish meat, citing that it did not meet quality
requirements. Poland considered that the import stoppage was
politically conditional and refused to sign a new
cooperation agreement between the EU and Russia before the
conflict was resolved.
Internally in the EU, Poland caused conflict in the
negotiations for a new treaty for the Union. The Polish
government demanded increased voting weight in relation to
the largest EU countries, and opposed the last proposal that
the EU Presidency Germany sought to get through at the EU
summit of Midsummer. After dramatic nightly negotiations,
when German Chancellor Angela Merkel threatened to put
Poland out of the treaty, a compromise was reached where the
current voting system is not completely removed until 2017.
In July, a new Polish government crisis broke out when
Agriculture Minister Andrzej Lepper was dismissed on
suspicion of corruption in his department. Then was also
fired the Interior Minister, who was accused of trying to
prevent an investigation into the corruption. Lepper's party
Self-defense left the government, which thus ended up in a
minority in parliament. The disintegration continued when
the two ministers from the Polish families' union were
dismissed. Thus, Prime Minister Jarosław Kaczyński led a
government with only his own party Law and Justice (PiS). In
September, Parliament decided to dissolve and new elections
were announced until October.
Although PiS increased by five percentage points to 32
percent and 166 seats, the election became a major victory
for right-wing opposition leader Donald Tusk. The Citizens'
Platform (PO) rose from 24 to 41.5 percent, taking 209 of
the 460 seats in Parliament. The new left alliance did not
increase, but remained at 13 percent, while the Polish
Peasant Party (PSL) went up to 9 percent and 31 seats. No
other parties entered Parliament. The fact that PiS lost
government power was explained by the fact that voters tired
of the Kaczyński brothers' confrontation policy both at home
and in the EU.
Prime Minister Jarosław Kaczyński handed in his
resignation to twin brother President Lech Kaczyński, who
reluctantly commissioned Donald Tusk to form a new
government. It took office in November and was a coalition
between PO and PSL. New Foreign Minister became Radosław
Sikorski, who earlier in the year left the post of Minister
of Defense in the old government and then joined the PO.
In Europe, the new Polish government was welcomed, which
promised better relations with the EU and announced that
Poland should withdraw its soldiers from Iraq at the end of
2008. The conversation climate with Moscow improved and in
December Russia lifted the ban on meat imports from Poland.
Poland's history after 1989
In 1989, Poland held its first partially free elections
since World War II. The election was a defeat for the Polish
Communist Party and paved the way for a free and democratic
Poland and later other former Eastern European countries
with a communist regime.
The process led to membership of NATO in 1999 and the EU
in 2004, and Poland in the 2000s became an influential
European country with a rapidly growing economy. In 2005,
the political landscape took a strong turn in a deeply
The 2015 presidential election
The first round of the 2015 presidential election was
held on May 10. As none of the candidates received more than
50 percent of the votes cast, a new ballot was held on May
24. The election then stood between Andrzej Duda of the
Party of Law and Justice (PiS) and incumbent President
Bronisław Komorowski. They received 34.76 and 33.77 percent
of the votes in the first round of elections, respectively.
Andrzej Duda, who won the second round with 51.55 percent
of the vote, was elected president on August 6. The turnout
for the two electoral votes was 49.4 and 55.34 per cent,
The next presidential election will be held in May 2020.
Parliamentary elections 2015
Parliamentary elections were held on October 25. At the
election, the Party of Law and Justice (PiS) received 37.58
percent of the vote and 235 of 460 representatives in Sejm.
In the Senate, PiS got 62 of the 100 representatives.
Following this election, PiS established a majority
government with Beata Szydło as prime minister. She was
inaugurated on November 16, 2015 and thus became the third
woman head of government in Poland.
Below are the percentages of the individual parties and
the number of representatives in Sejm as a result of the
election on October 25, 2015:
- Law and Justice Party(Prawo in Sprawiedliwość, PiS):
37.58 percent, 235 representatives
- Citizen Platform(Platforma Obywatelska, PO): 24.09
per cent, 138 representatives
- Kukiz'15: 8.81 percent, 42 representatives
- The party "Modern Poland"(Nowoczesna): 7.60 percent,
- The Polish People's Party(Polskie Stronnictwo Ludowe,
PSL and the Norwegian Peasant Party): 5.13 percent, 16
- The German minority(Mniejszość Niemiecka, MN): 0.18
percent, one representative.
The turnout was 50.92 per cent.
It is the first time since 1990 that a left-wing party is
not represented in Sejm. Prior to the October 25, 20154
election, five leftist parties, including the Democratic
Left Alliance (SLD), formed a new party alliance: the United
Left Alliance (Zjednoczona Lewica). This alliance received
7.55 percent of the vote and thus came under the eight
percent block limit. Two smaller lots on the far right and
the far left, respectively, fell below the 5 per cent limit.
The 2020 presidential election
The presidential election should have taken place on May
10, 2020. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, PiS and a support
party in Sejm announced on May 6 that the election will be
postponed. The parties stated that as soon as the Supreme
Court accepts that the election is postponed, the President
of Sejm must state a new election date.