National Populist Union

National Populist Union

Związek Ludowo-Narodowy (ZLN) (National Populist Union) was a Polish political party of the National Democracy political camp, which functioned in the Second Polish Republic. It gathered right-wing politicians with conservative and nationalist opinions.

In 1919-1926 the ZLN was successful in elections, but due to a lack of consensus with other parties it could not govern alone. It could only introduce single, well-qualified ministers (for example in financial, education or foreign affairs resorts) to the following governments after 1923 with the National Democrats and peasants (Chjeno-Piast). In presidential elections they nominated their own candidate, count Maurycy Zamoyski, as a counter-balance to the alleged freemason Gabriel Narutowicz and Stanisław Wojciechowski, a worker of PSL “Piast” (the Polish People's Party “Piast”).

After the May Coup of 1926, the ZLN gradually lost significance as a result of repressions of the ruling Sanacja regime. Internal conflicts and scissions occurred, additionally intensified by the repressions from the Sanacja regime. In 1928 the ZLN was transformed into the National Party (Stronnictwo Narodowe).



The ZLN as a political party was being formed since December 1918. Back then, shortly before the elections, the National Election Committee of Democratic Parties (Narodowy Komitet Wyborczy Stronnictw Demokratycznych) arose composed of the National Democracy (Narodowa Demokracja), National Unity (Zjednoczenie Narodowe), the Christian Workers' Party (Chrześcijańskie Stronnictwo Robotnicze) and the Polish Progressive Party (Polska Partia Postępowa). During the elections in 1919 this alliance obtained 109 mandates (most of the ministers were from Greater Poland). Wojciech Korfanty became the president of the Ministers Club (Klub Poselski), whereas Stanisław Grabski, Konstanty Kowalewski and Józef Teodorowicz became the vice-presidents. In February 1919, it was transformed into the National Parliamentary Populist Union (Związek Sejmowy Ludowo-Narodowy).


The ZLN was established in May 1919 at the 1st Congress of the National Populist Union. At the beginning, the ZLN was a federation of political parties, but in summer 1919 secessions in the National Populist Union occurred. The Christian-National Workers Club (Chrześcijańsko-Narodowy Klub Robotniczy) split away. Thus, the ZLN changed its character and became a homogeneous group. This was confirmed during the 2nd Congress in October 1919.

In January 1919, a group of National Democrats attempted a coup d’état to bring down the leftist government of Jędrzej Moraczewski. Marian Januszajtis-Żegota and Eustachy Sapieha participated in this unsuccessful attempt.

On 16 January 1919, a non-partisan government arose with the ZLN’s representatives – Władysław Seyda (minister of “Prussian” district), Józef Englich (minister of finances), and reverend Antoni Stychel (deputy speaker of the Polish Parliament). When in spring 1920 the situation on the front of the Polish-Soviet War became critical, the ZLN attacked Piłsudski and became one of the inspirers of the creation of the Council of National Defense (Rada Obrony Państwa) with Roman Dmowski as a member from the National Democracy.

At that time, the ZLN’s political manifesto can be concluded in a few points:

    • Nationalism
    • Unity of the nation
    • Elimination of class divisions
    • Germany as a main threat to Poland
    • Restrain the expansion in the East
    • Private-capitalistic economy, objection to governmental interfering, support for worker’s insurance and land reform, and opposition against coercive land distribution
    • Continuation of Polish religion and national traditions
    • Significant position of the Catholic Church
    • Reinforcement of parliament and reduction of presidential powers

The National Democrats had very strong influences among insurgents from Greater Poland (Wielkopolska), but not too strong position in Congress Poland (Kongresówka). Hence in January 1919, they decided to compromise with Piłsudski and to have a tolerant attitude towards government. When in summer 1920 the government of Wincenty Witos came into being, it obtained the full support of the ZLN.

From the second half of 1921 to the beginning of 1922, the ZLN took opposition towards the Chief of State (Naczelnik Państwa) as well as the following centrist regimes – the political offensive of the ZLN began. Before the elections in 1922, a rightist Christian National Union (Chrześcijański Związek Jedności Narodowej) was created and was called Hyena by its opponents. It included: the Popular-National Union, the National Workers Party (Narodowe Stronnictwo Robotnicze), the Polish Christian-Democratic Party (Polskie Stronnictwo Chrześcijańskiej Demokracji) and the National Christian Peasant Party (Narodowo-Chrześcijańskie Stronnictwo Ludowe). It won 98 seats (22%) in the Sejm (Polish Parliament) and 29 seats (26%) in the Senate.

Later, during the session of the National Union, the “battle” for the Presidency took place. A nominee of National Democrats, Maurycy Zamoyski, was defeated by Gabriel Narutowicz who was murdered a few days after his election by fanatical rightist supporter, Eligiusz Niewiadomski.


On 17 May 1923, the signing of the so called Lanckorona Pact took place, in which representatives of the ZLN, the Christian-National Labour Party (Chrześcijańsko-Narodowe Stronnictwo Pracy), and the PSL “Piast” participated. It was an agreement between right-wing and centrist parties in which things such as: issues of colonization on Eastern territory, assigning governmental portfolios exclusively for Poles, and settling accounts with the Left were regulated. The effect of this agreement was the so called Chjeno-Piast government which was created on 28 May 1923. It was headed by Witos and on the ZLN’s behalf. Stanisław Głąbiński, Marian Seyda and Wojciech Korfanty were also in the government.


In the years 1923-1926, ZLN activity was based on two simultaneously realizing political concepts:

    • activities proceeding to renew and preserve the centro-rightist governmental coalition
    • preparing action of taking power by force

Foreign policy was based on a pro-French and anti-German attitude. In the East, there were ideas for the incorporation of territories of Western Ukraine, Western Belarus, and Wilno into Poland. The ZLN was for a nationalist Poland. Non-Poles were supposed to be 2nd-class citizens to the moment they underwent language and cultural assimilation. The social basis of the ZLN was composed of:

    • city dwellers (mainly bourgeoisie, lower middle class, intelligentsia),
    • workers from Łódź,
    • landed gentry

Centers of National Democracy

Further activity

On 26 October 1924, the 4th ZLN Congress was organized, at which postulates on the development and reinforcement of the party, and the increase of discipline inside the party appeared. Workmen and country departments were created in order to increase the number of supporters. It was decided that if they come to power, communists will be deprived of a passive voting rights. The Supreme Council (Rada Naczelna) was chosen (Stanisław Głąbiński became its president) and a Board of Directors (Zarząd Główny) consisting of 30 members. Decisions of the Congress were the results of pro-fascist tendencies that appeared in the ZLN – from November 1923, a conflict occurred because Prime Minister Grabski tried to accommodate the atmosphere by negotiating with the national minorities.

On 13 November 1925, the Grabski government collapsed and was replaced by the Aleksander Skrzyński's administration with representatives of the ZLN, the Christian Democracy (Chrzreścijańska Demokracja), the National Workers Party (Narodowa Partia Robotnicza), the PSL “Piast”, and the Polish Socialist Party (Polska Partia Socjalistyczna). Jerzy Zdziechowski (the minister of finance) and Stanisław Grabski (the minister of religion and education) both come from the ZLN.

In 1925, the ZLN defined its statute, in which it was said that only Poles who are Christians accepting the party's program, statute, regulations, and resolutions can be members of the ZLN.

On 10 May 1926, Witos’ third government was created, in which Zdziechowski and Grabski again acceded. Its activity was one of the reasons for Józef Piłsudski's May Coup. From 1926, as an answer to taking control by Sanacja (Piłsudski’s political movement), unity of Polish nationalist movements was postulated. However, some were becoming more and more radical. On 4 December 1926, the Camp of Great Poland (Obóz Wielkiej Polski) appeared. Its founders’ intention was to take the place of the ZLN.

On 7 October 1928, the ZLN dissolved itself because of the repressions from the Sanacja regime and was replaced by the National Party (Stronnictwo Narodowe).


The regional structure of the party consisted of:

    • regional administrations,
    • district boards electing district administrations,
    • rural (communal) and urban units with a president or a board headed by a president.

The most important party institution was the Supreme Council (Rada Naczelna). During the second meeting it was stated that it consists of all ZLN representatives, 100 members chosen by Congress, and one delegate from each district. Later, the membership was slightly changed: 60 members chosen by Congress and 3 delegates from each district. The Supreme Council chose the Board of Directors, a governing board consisting of 5 members, which nominates president.

Newspapers that presented similar values as the ZLN were Gazeta Warszawska (Warsaw Gazette), Przegląd Narodowy, Gazeta Poranna, Myśl Narodowa, and Słowo Polskie.


Further reading

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