Polish parliamentary election

In addition to Switzerland, today will also see general parliamentary elections in Poland. These elections were called early when the governing coalition, in power since shortly after the elections of September, 2005, collapsed.

Given the outcome of Poland’s parliamentary and presidential elections of 2005–the first year in which both institutions had been elected in close proximity–Poland has not only the dual executive that defines its semi-presidential regime type, but a twin executive.

Today’s election is expected to be close. It is by no means certain that the party of the Kaczynski twins, the conservative-nationalist Law and Justice (PiS), can retain the premiership. The other main contender is the Civic Platform (CO), usually described as a “liberal” (in the European sense) party. The Polish party system is highly fragmented. In 2005, the PiS was the largest party with 27% of the vote and 155 of the 460 seats. The PO was second with 24.1% and 133. The next largest parties had around 11%. The electoral system is districted open-list PR (in 40 districts).

Under Poland’s constitution, the presidency is one of the most powerful in (non-XSSR) Europe–for instance it has a veto that needs 3/5 to override ((I mistakenly wrote 2/3 initially.)) –but the president’s ability to appoint the cabinet is limited. The president has discretion to nominate a candidate to be premier, and here’s betting he will choose his twin brother. However, the premier cannot take office until he and the proposed cabinet obtain a vote of investiture (and, of course, once appointed, the cabinet depends on the ongoing confidence of the lower house).

EuroTrib will be a good place to follow the elections and the results, as they come in.

0 thoughts on “Polish parliamentary election

  1. I thought the veto was set at 3/5 for Poland. I could be wrong though. A grand coaltion of more than 60 percent can make that veto meaningless.

  2. Pingback: Outside The Beltway | OTB

  3. Of course, a grand coalition would by definition include the PiS, so the veto presumably would not be exercised much.

    If there were a 60% opposition coalition (no PiS participation), then it would neutralize the veto.

    The PO seems to have won over 200 seats, the PiS 160-some. So a big victory for PO, but can it build a coalition big enough to clear 60% without PiS? The three parties other than PiS would get them there (apparently), but I am unsure if all three of them would join a coalition.

  4. The Polish senate is elected by multimember plurality ‘block vote’ (rare in Europe). A voter has as many votes as there are seats in his constituency (I assume, is this correct?). In such a case I would expect every major party to nominate as many candidates as there are seats in that constituency, as many as a voter in that constituency has votes.

    But this is not the case. In fact, in most cases, parties nominate fewer candidates. The two biggest parties PiS and PO nominated candidates in every constituency (40), but they nominated only 87 and 85 candidates, while there are 100 seats for grab.

    Has someone an idea why? Do Polish voters generally spread their votes over candidates of different parties? Or is my assumption wrong and is the system not a classical implementation of multimember plurality ‘block vote’?

  5. Yes, MNTV (so-called block vote) for Polish Senate. Mostly 2-seat districts, if I recall correctly. (I hope someone can confirm.)

    It is usually the case in such systems that voters don’t cast their full number of votes, or do not cast all for candidates of the same party–or so it seems. (I am not aware of systematic research on the question.) So it makes sense that parties often would not nominate a full slate, for fear of spreading their votes too thin. (Parties could also nominate less than their full entitlement for reasons related to the interparty dimension, in addition to the intraparty reasons already mentioned here: It could be part of electoral agreements with potential coalition partners. However, I rather doubt that was the case in this Polish election.)

    MNTV is really more like SNTV or limited vote, in its effects, than it is like a winner-take-all system, which is why I think the term “block vote” is misleading.

    Previous threads on MNTV can be found in the orchard blocks on “Philippines, “Palestinian Territories,” and, naturally, “SNTV/MNTV” (all linked on the left sidebar)–notably in the various comment threads.

    (Palestine was, of course, somewhat an exception to the rule noted above” Hamas voters, in particular, tended to cast the full number of votes and for only Hamas candidates. They did so more than Fatah voters, and that is part of the reason why Hamas had such a large manufactured majority. But even there, even a cursory look at the data suggests there was some fall-off, whereby significant numbers of voters did not complete the full ballot.)

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