Poland. In January, new Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki
replaced almost half of the government's ministers. It was
seen as an attempt to appease the EU leadership, which,
before the New Year, initiated a process of threat of
sanctions against Poland because of the government's attempt
to take control of the judiciary.
In February, criticism increased since Parliament made it
punishable to accuse Poland of participating in Nazi
genocide against Jews. With the threat of imprisonment, it
was also forbidden to designate the Nazi death camps in
Poland as Polish. The criticism was particularly harsh from
Israel, but President Andrzej Duda signed the law.
Countryaah.com, the criticism gradually became too difficult for the
government, which decided to mitigate the law. Talking about
Polish death camps or Poland being involved in the Holocaust
would no longer provide a prison sentence.
In April, Parliament amended some of the criticized
judicial reforms, but according to the Supreme Court it was
insufficient. In July, the new laws came into force with,
among other things, the forced retirement of the Supreme
Court judge at the age of 65. According to the ruling party
Law and Justice, the mentality of the Communist era must be
removed and the fight against corruption become more
effective, but according to the opposition, the government
wanted to take control of the judiciary through the
appointment of politically loyal judges. Parliament, in
turn, gained control of the National Legal Council to
appoint judges and other high lawyers.
Supreme Court Chief Justice Małgorzata Gersdorf and a
number of judges refused to obey the new law, which they
said was a purge against the Constitution. Gersdorf went to
his workplace where thousands of followers demonstrated with
demands for an independent judiciary.
The European Commission launched a new legal process
against Poland, declaring that the government violated EU
rules and undermined the principle of judicial independence.
But in September, the president appointed a new acting chief
of the Supreme Court, despite Gersdorf refusing to leave his
post. The EU countries' judicial bodies, the ENCJ, decided
to expel Poland, as it was considered that the country no
longer fulfilled the basic requirement of independent
The president also appointed judges to a newly
established chamber of the Supreme Court for disciplinary
cases. It would, among other things, evaluate judges'
involvement in politics. Judicial proceedings were initiated
against three judges who protested against the government's
In September, the European Commission decided to address
the issue of forced retirement of the Polish judges to the
European Court of Justice. According to the Commission, it
violated EU law by attacking the independence of the courts.
In October, President Duda appointed 27 new judges to the
Supreme Court. Just over a week later, a temporary ruling
came from the European Court of Justice, where the Polish
government was ordered to immediately cancel the decision on
forced retirement of judges. The European Court of Justice
also banned newly appointed judges from taking office. Final
judgment would be announced later.
In November, the ruling party reversed Law and Justice
and Parliament decided that forced-retired judges should
return to work. The European Commission said the decision
was a step in the right direction.
In the October general elections, the Conservative and
Nationalist ruling party Law and Justice progressed in the
country, while the liberal opposition won in the big cities.
The political divide between the city and the countryside in
Poland appeared clearer than before.
At the 100th anniversary of Poland's independence in
November, a couple of hundred thousand people marched
through Warsaw in a nationalist manifesto, which included,
among other things, the extreme right and fascist flags
In November, media reported that the CFO had requested
bribes from the owner of two banks in exchange for gentle
treatment. He dismissed the charges as false but resigned
from his post. Bank shares fell on the stock exchange. In
Parliament, the largest opposition party called on the
Citizens' Platform to vote in confidence against the
government and accused it of trying to sweep the scandal
under the carpet. However, Prime Minister Morawiecki won the
vote in December.
Elections in Poland
The party system in Poland was severely fragmented in the
first period after democratization. In 1991, a five per cent
threshold was set for the representation of political
parties in Sejm, except for ethnic parties. The barrier to
electoral alliances was set at eight per cent. This
restriction does not apply to parties representing a
national minority. Thus, the barrier does not apply to the
German minority party.
Since 1989, a number of new parties have been formed,
forming various alliances. After all the Sejm elections in
the period 1991–2007, there was a change of government, but
at the elections in 2007 and 2011, the Citizens' Platform
and the Polish People's Party / Peasant Party gained a
majority in Sejm.
With the exception of the extraordinary election in 2007,
the turnout in all parliamentary elections since 1991 has
been less than 50 per cent. At the October 9, 2011 election,
turnout was 48.6 percent.
Parliamentary elections 2005
The 2005 parliamentary election became a victory for the
right-wing Party of Law and Justice (PiS). This party got 27
percent of the vote, the Liberal Citizen Platform (PO) 24.1
percent, while the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) became the
major loser and dropped from just over 41 percent of the
vote to 11.3 percent Negotiations for a coalition government
between PiS and the PO did not argue, partly because of
disagreement over which party should hold the presidential
post in Sejm.
The result was that PiS formed government together with
two less populist parties: the Federation of Polish Families
(LPR) and the Self-Defense Party (SRP - Samoobrona).
The Prime Minister's candidate for PiS, Jaroslaw
Aleksander Kaczyński, withdrew ahead of the coalition
negotiations. The reason was that his twin brother Lech
Kaczyński was elected Poland's new president in October.
Instead, Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz became new prime minister
in November 2005.
Parliamentary elections 2007
Following the corruption charges against the leader of
the Self-Defense Party (SRP - Samoobrona), who participated
in the Marcinkiewwicz government, Sejm was dissolved in
September 2007 and new elections were held in October of the
same year. At the election, the Citizen Platform (PO)
received 41.5 per cent of the votes and 208 representatives.
Together with the Polish People's Party (PSL), which got 8.9
percent of the vote and 31 representatives, the PO formed a
majority government with Donald Tusk as prime minister.
Attendance at the election was 53.8 per cent.
Parliamentary elections 2011
At the October 2011 parliamentary elections, the Citizens
Platform and the Polish People's Party retained the majority
in Sejm and formed a new coalition government. With this,
Donald Tusk became the first Polish prime minister to be
re-elected after serving a full term. After Donald Tusk was
appointed President of the European Council, Ewa Kopasz took
over as Prime Minister in September 2014.