Polish legislative election, 1928


Polish legislative election, 1928

The Polish legislative election, 1928 lasted from 4 to 11 March and was the third election in the Second Polish Republic. Bezpartyjny Blok Współpracy z Rządem ("Non-partisan Bloc of Collaboration with the Government)") - a coalition of the "Sanacja" faction - won the highest number of seats (125 out of 444 in Sejm (Polish parliament) - 28.12% of the total, and 48 out of 111 in the Senate of Poland - 43.24% of the total), but unlike later elections, those of 1928 were still considered free and opposition parties also gained a significant number of seats. The 1928 election is generally considered the last free election in Poland until 1989 (or 1991).A. J. Groth, "Polish Elections 1919-1928", Slavic Review, Vol. 24, No. 4. (Dec., 1965), pp. 653-665. [http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0037-6779(196512)24%3A4%3C653%3APE1%3E2.0.CO%3B2-H JSTOR] , Last accessed on 14 April 2007] Kenneth Ka-Lok Chan, "Poland at the Crossroads: The 1993 General Election", Europe-Asia Studies, Vol. 47, No. 1. (1995), pp. 123-145. [http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0966-8136(1995)47%3A1%3C123%3APATCT1%3E2.0.CO%3B2-0 JSTOR] , Last accessed on 14 April 2007]

Background

The 1928 elections were the first elections after Józef Piłsudski's May Coup in 1926. Thirty-four parties took part in the 1928 elections. [http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,786740,00.html TIME article on 1928 Polish elections from Mar. 19, 1928] Last accessed on 14 April 2007] Piłsudski was supported by BBWR led by Walery Sławek, which campaigned for a more authoritative government, declaring its total support for Piłsudski and proclaiming itself to be a patriotic, non-partisan and pro-government formation. Other factions in contemporary Polish politics and their primary parties included: the Left, comprised of the Polish Socialist Party (PPS, "Polska Partia Socialistyczna") of Ignacy Daszyński; the Polish Communists ("Komunistyczna Partia Polski"); two Polish Peasant Party (PSL, "Polskie Stronnictwo Ludowe") factions (PSL Wyzwolenie of Jan Woźnicki and Stronnictwo Chłopskie of Jan Dąbski); the Right ("endecja", represented by the National Populist Association ("Związek Ludowo-Narodowy") of Stanisław Głąbiński); the Center, composed of the PSL faction, the PSL Piast of Wincenty Witos, Christian Democracy ("Chrzescijańska Demokracja") of Wojciech Korfanty and the National Workers Party ("Narodowa Partia Robotnicza") of Adam Chadzyński; and finally, the Minorities, represented by the Bloc of National Minorities ("Blok Mniejszości Narodowych").

The government applied much pressure to ensure victory for its candidates. Propaganda media were distributed, Sanacja supporters tried to break up opposition rallies and some opposition lists and candidates were declared invalid by ostensibly neutral government institutions. Pressure was put on state employees to vote for the BBWR and to participate in its electoral campaign. Public funds were diverted to the BBWR, which had ready use of government facilities.

Despite these irregularities, the 1928 election is generally considered the last free election in Poland until 1989 (or 1991) as the opposition parties were still able to campaign and put forward candidates, and the results were not falsified.

Results

Aftermath

Slightly less than half of those entitled to vote did vote; it was one of the lowest turnouts in the history of Polish elections (with the Polish legislative election, 1935 being the lowest). The BBWR government bloc won the highest number of seats (125 out of 444 in Sejm (Polish parliament) - 28.12% of the total, and 48 out of 111 in the Senate of Poland - 43.24% of the total); the opposition parties, however, gained a majority of the remaining seats, with the left - including Polish Communists - doing much better than the traditional Polish Right . Groth notes that the elections showed a progressively increasing fragmentation of the Polish electorate; a steady and significant increase in the proportion of ethnic minority voting; the rapid rise of the Polish Socialist Party as a major force within the far less stable and cohesive Polish Left; and the substantial weakening of the Right by Piłsudski's supporters, as the BBWR, despite its claims of being above traditional party divisions in fact attracted support mostly from the Right.

Although the opposition to Sanacja failed to gain control of the Sejm, it was able to show its strength and prevent Sanacja from taking control of the Sejm. This convinced Piłsudski and his supporters that more drastic measures had to be taken in dealing with the opposition. Opposition politicians became increasingly persecuted and threatened.pl icon Bartłomiej Kozłowski, [http://wiadomosci.polska.pl/kalendarz/kalendarium/article.htm?id=59022 Aresztowanie przywódców Centrolewu] , Last accessed on 14 April 2007]

Opposition parties formed the "Centrolew" coalition to oppose the government of Sanacja. Their actions led to a vote of no confidence for the Sanacja government and dissolution of the parliament. New elections were held in 1930; however, the Sanacja succeeded in having many Centrolew politicians arrested; and the 1930 elections are not considered free.

References

Further reading

*A. J. Groth, "Polish Elections 1919-1928", Slavic Review, Vol. 24, No. 4 (Dec., 1965), pp. 653-665 [http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0037-6779(196512)24%3A4%3C653%3APE1%3E2.0.CO%3B2-H JSTOR]


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