Polish people's referendum, 1946


Polish people's referendum, 1946

The People's Referendum (Polish: "referendum ludowe") of 1946, also known as the "Three Times Yes" (Polish: "Trzy razy tak", often abbreviated as 3xTAK) referendum, was a referendum held in Poland on 30 June 1946 on the authority of the State National Council (order of 27 April 1946). The referendum presented an opportunity for the forces vying for political control of Poland following the Second World War to test their popularity among the general population. In a sign of things to come, the results, which showed a lack of support for the communist government, were rigged to show that communist policies had overwhelming support.

The referendum comprised three questions:


# "Are you in favor of abolishing the Senate?"
# "Do you want consolidation, in the future constitiution of the economic system founded on agricultural reform and the nationalisation of basic national industries, including the preservation of the statutory rights of private enterprise?"
# "Do you want consolidation of the western boarder of the Polish State on the Baltic, Oder river and Lusatian Neisse? "

Parties of the pro-communist Democratic Bloc (PPR, PPS, SD, SL) campaigned heavily in favor of "Three Times Yes". PSL, which realised what was really at stake in the vote, namely Polish independence and future of the country, advocated voting "no" on the first question, despite the fact that it had been opposed to the Senate's existence since before the war. The majority of PSL political support was in rural areas, among people who supported agricultural reformFact|date=May 2007, so the party found it impossible to advocate voting "no" on the second question. Nonetheless, the party's opposition to the first question was used by the communists to declare the more liberal PSL activists "traitors". The Wolność i Niezawisłość party argued against the first two questions only, while NSZ advocated a "no" for all three questions, as a sign of protest against the annexation of the eastern territories of Poland (known as the Kresy) by the Soviet Union.

The official results, published on 12 July 1946, showed that from a population of 13,160,451 eligible voters, 90.1% or 11,857,986 had taken part in the referendum. Of these, 11,530,551 or 97.2% were counted as valid. On the first question, 68% voters chose "yes". On the second question, 77.2% voted "yes". On the third question, 91.4% voted "yes".

However, the official results were far removed from the actual results since the vote had been seriously compromised by the communists and their supporters. The communists, who already "de facto" controlled much of the government and had the backing of the military (both the Polish Wojsko Ludowe and Soviet Red Army), used the police (Milicja Obywatelska) and the secret services (Urząd Bezpieczeństwa) to switch real ballots for false ones, stuff ballot boxes with false votes, destroy votes not in favour of all or any of the three questions or simply falsify votes. Voting in the army was done on command and without secrecy. [ [http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,793059,00.html "You Cannot Shoot Us All"] , "TIME Magazine", June 17, 1946] [ [http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,778716,00.html "It is Forbidden"] , "TIME Magazine", July 08, 1946]

In Kraków, where the opposition managed to ensure a fair vote, the "no" results were: 84%, 59% and 30% for all three questions. Despite the protests of the opposition, led by Stanisław Mikołajczyk, and representatives of the United Kingdom and United States, the results were declared free and fair by the government.

Materials published after the communists lost power in Poland in 1989 show that the nationwide results were the following: for the first question, "yes" was chosen by 26.9% voters. For the second question, 42% chose "yes". For the third question, 66.9% chose "yes".

PSL estimated that a "yes" for all three questions was chosen by 15% of respondents. Secret documents from the PPR show that they believed 27% of respondents had voted yes for all three questions. The official results indicated this figure was 68%.

The referendum demonstrated the weakness of the communists and encouraged them to increase their persecution of the opposition and general repression. It also discouraged them from holding any further referendums. However, it should be noted that communists did have a significant base of support, as at least 27% of voters voted for their policies without any duress.

References

* Davies, Norman, 1982 and several reprints. "God's Playground". 2 vols. New York: Columbia Univ. Press. ISBN 0-231-05353-3 and ISBN 0-231-05351-7
* M.Turlejska, "Zapis pierwszej dekady, 1945-1954"
* [http://encyklopedia.pwn.pl/58502_1.html POLSKA. HISTORIA] Article in Polish PWN Encyclopedia, online version. Accessed on 11 July 2005. Polish language.

Further reading

*Nikita Petrov, "“The Role of the MGB of USSR in the Sovietization of Poland: the Referendum and Sejm Elections in 1946-1947" ( [http://bbb.livejournal.com/1269125.html] )


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