Politics of Poland
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politics and government of
The politics of Poland take place in the framework of a parliamentary representative democratic republic, whereby the Prime Minister is the head of government of a multi-party system and the President is the head of state.
Executive power is exercised by the Council of Ministers. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the two chambers of parliament (known together by the very same name as the lower house "Sejm"), the Sejm and the Senate. The Judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature.
Executive power is exercised by the government, which consists of a council of ministers led by the Prime Minister. Its members are typically chosen from a majority coalition in the lower house of parliament (the Sejm), although exceptions to this rule are not uncommon. The government is formally announced by the president, and must pass a motion of confidence in the Sejm within two weeks.
Legislative power is vested in both the government and the two chambers of parliament, Sejm and Senate. Members of parliament are elected by proportional representation, with the proviso that non-ethnic-minority parties must gain at least 5% of the national vote to enter the lower house. Currently four parties are represented. Parliamentary elections occur at least every four years.
The president, as the head of state, is the supreme commander of the Armed Forces and has the power to veto legislation passed by parliament, but otherwise has a mostly representative role. Presidential elections occur every 5 years.
The political system is defined in the Polish Constitution, which also guarantees a wide range of individual freedoms.
The President is elected by popular vote for a maximum of two 5-year terms. She/he is head of state, supreme commander of the Armed Forces and supreme representative of the Republic of Poland. The President has the right to veto legislation, although veto may be overridden by the assembly by a three-fifths majority vote.
The President, as representative of the state in foreign affairs, shall ratify and renounce international agreements, appoint and recall the plenipotentiary representatives of the Republic of Poland and shall cooperate with the Prime Minister and the appropriate minister in respect of foreign policy.
As Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, the President shall appoint the Chief of the General Staff and commanders of branches of the Armed Forces.
The President may, regarding particular matters, convene the Cabinet Council, although it does not possess the competence of the Council of Ministers.
Official acts of the President shall require, for their validity, the signature of the Prime Minister, nevertheless this does not apply to:
- nominating and appointing the Prime Minister
- shortening of the term of office of the Sejm in the instances specified in the Constitution
- introducing legislation
- requesting the Sejm to appoint the President of the National Bank of Poland
- appointing judges
- proclaiming the holding of a nationwide referendum (a consent of the Senate is required)
- signing or refusing to sign a bill
- appointing the First President of the Supreme Court, President of the Constitutional Tribunal, members of the Council for Monetary Policy, appointing and dismissing members of the National Security Council
- exercising the power of pardon
- convening the Cabinet Council
|President||Bronisław Komorowski||PO||6 August 2010|
|Prime Minister||Donald Tusk||PO||16 November 2007|
The president is elected by popular vote for a five-year term, the prime minister and deputy prime ministers are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Sejm. The Council of Ministers is responsible to the prime minister and the Sejm; the prime minister proposes, the president appoints, and the Sejm approves the Council of Ministers.
The Polish Parliament has two chambers. The lower chamber (Sejm) has 460 members, elected for a four-year term by proportional representation in multi-seat constituencies using the d'Hondt method similar to that used in many parliamentary political systems, with a 5% threshold (8% for coalitions, threshold waived for national minorities). The Senate (Senat) has 100 members elected for a four-year term in 40 multi-seat constituencies under a rare plurality bloc voting method where several candidates with the highest support are elected from each electorate. When sitting in joint session, members of the Sejm and Senate form the National Assembly, (Polish Zgromadzenie Narodowe). The National Assembly is formed on three occasions: Taking the oath of office by a new president, bringing an indictment against the President of the Republic to the Tribunal of State, and declaration of a President's permanent incapacity to exercise their duties due to the state of their health. Only the first kind has occurred to date. Since 1991 elections are supervised by the National Electoral Commission (Państwowa Komisja Wyborcza), whose administrative division is called the National Electoral Office (Krajowe Biuro Wyborcze).
|Civic Platform (Platforma Obywatelska, PO)||5,629,773||18,30||39,18||207||–2||–2.33||63||+3|
|Law and Justice (Prawo i Sprawiedliwość, PiS)||4,295,016||13,96||29.89||157||–9||–2.22||31||–8|
|Palikot's Movement (Ruch Palikota, RP)||1,439,490||4,67||10.02||40||+40||—||—|
|Polish People's Party (Polskie Stronnictwo Ludowe, PSL)||1,201,628||3,90||8.36||28||–3||–0.55||2||+2|
|Democratic Left Alliance (Sojusz Lewicy Demokratycznej, SLD)||1,184,303||3,84||8.24||27||–26||–4.91||—||—|
|Poland Comes First (Polska jest Najważniejsza, PJN)||315,393||1,02||2.19||—||—†||—||—†|
|Congress of the New Right (Kongres Nowej Prawicy, KNP)||151,837||0,49||1.06||—||–||—||–|
|Polish Labour Party (Polska Partia Pracy, PPP)||79,147||0,25||0.55||—||—||—||—|
|Right of the Republic–Real Politics Union (Prawica)||35,169||0,11||0.24||—||—||–0.44||—||—|
|German Minority (Mniejszość Niemiecka, MN)||28,014||0,09||0.20||1||—||–0.03||—||—|
|Our Home Poland (Nasz Dom Polska)||9,733||0,03||0.05||—||—||–1.48||—||—|
†PjN did not exist at the previous election, but had 15 Sejm seats and 1 Senate seat when the previous Parliament was dissolved.2
|Candidates – Parties||First round||Second round|
|Bronisław Komorowski – Civic Platform (Platforma Obywatelska)||6,981,319||41.54||8,933,887||53.01|
|Jarosław Kaczyński – Law and Justice (Prawo i Sprawiedliwość)||6,128,255||36.46||7,919,134||46.99|
|Grzegorz Napieralski - Democratic Left Alliance (Sojusz Lewicy Demokratycznej)||2,299,870||13.68|
|Janusz Korwin-Mikke – Freedom and Lawfulness (Wolność i Praworządność)||416,898||2.48|
|Waldemar Pawlak – Polish People's Party (Polskie Stronnictwo Ludowe)||294,273||1.75|
|Andrzej Olechowski – independent||242,439||1.44|
|Andrzej Lepper – Self-Defense of the Republic of Poland (Samoobrona Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej)||214,657||1.28|
|Marek Jurek – Right of the Republic (Prawica Rzeczypospolitej)||177,315||1.06|
|Bogusław Ziętek – Free Trade Union "August 80" (Wolny Związek Zawodowy "Sierpień 80")||29,548||0.18|
|Kornel Morawiecki – on behalf of Fighting Solidarity (Solidarność Walcząca)||21,596||0.13|
|Total votes for candidates||16,806,170||100.00||16,853,021||100.00|
|Total valid votes||16,806,170||99.30||16,853,021||98.84|
|Total invalid votes||117,662||0.70||197,396||1.16|
|Total votes cast||16,923,832||100.00||17,050,417||100.00|
|Source: Electoral Commission, National Electoral Commission|
Some contemporary Polish politicians in alphabetical order: Leszek Balcerowicz, Marek Belka, Marek Borowski, Bogdan Borusewicz, Jerzy Buzek, Ludwik Dorn, Bronisław Geremek, Roman Giertych, Zyta Gilowska, Danuta Hübner, Marek Jurek, Jarosław Kaczyński, Lech Kaczyński, Jarosław Kalinowski, Bronisław Komorowski, Pawel Kowal, Aleksander Kwaśniewski, Andrzej Lepper, Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz, Stefan Meller, Wojciech Olejniczak, Zbigniew Religa, Jan Rokita, Jacek Saryusz-Wolski, Donald Tusk, Zbigniew Wassermann, Zbigniew Ziobro.
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.
The combined3 consists of 100,3004 active duty personnel and in addition 234,000 reserves. In 2009 the Armed Forces transformed into a fully professional organization and compulsory military service was abolished. Personnel levels and organization in the different branches are as follows (2004):
- Land Forces: 60,000 (4 divisions, independent units and territorial forces)
- Air Force: 26,000 (Air and Air Defense Corps)
- Navy: 14,300 (2 Fleets)
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 United Nations peacekeeping operations; it maintaining a unit in Southern Lebanon (part of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, a battalion in NATO's Kosovo Force (KFOR), and 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.
The Biuro Ochrony Rządu (BOR), or Government Protection Bureau, is Poland's equivalent of the Secret Service in the United States- providing antiterrorism and VIP security detail services for the government.5
Poland is divided in 16 provinces or Voivodeships (województwa, singular - województwo); Lower Silesia, Kuyavia-Pomerania, Łódź, Lubelskie, Lubusz, Lesser Poland, Masovia, Opole, Subcarpathia, Podlaskie, Pomerania, Silesia, Świętokrzyskie, Warmia-Masuria, Greater Poland, and West Pomerania.
- Anarchism in Poland
- Far right in Poland
- Liberalism in Poland
- Polish government-in-exile
- Political parties in Poland
- Poland Now Led by Twin Brothers
- Erik Herron's Guide to Politics of East Central Europe and Eurasia
- PGB surveys