1919 Polish legislative election

Parliamentary elections were held in Poland on 26 January 1919,[1] electing the first Sejm of the Second Polish Republic. The elections, based on universal suffrage and proportional representation, was the first free election in the country's history. It produced a parliament balanced between the right, left and center, although the elections were boycotted by the Polish communists and the Jewish Bund. In the territories where the election took place, voter turnout was from 70% to 90%. Right-wing parties won 50% of votes, left-wing parties around 30%, and Jewish organizations more than 10%.[2]

1919 Polish legislative election
Second Polish Republic
26 January 1919 (1919-01-26) 1922 →

All 394 seats in Legislative Sejm
198 seats needed for a majority
Turnoutfrom 70% to 90%
Party Leader % Seats
ZLN Wojciech Korfanty 28.96 140
PSL "Wyzwolenie" Błażej Stolarski 15.05 59
ŻRN Izaak Grünbaum 10.80 11
PPS Ignacy Daszyński 9.23 35
Polish People's Party "Piast" (1913–1931) Wincenty Witos 4.17 46
PZL Józef Ostachowski 3.80 35
PSL "Lewica" Jan Stapiński 3.54 12
SKL Leon Wałęga 1.83 18
German lists 1.73 2
NZR Stanisław Nowicki 1.21 32
Independent 15.47 4
This lists parties that won seats. See the complete results below.
President of Ministers before President of Ministers after
Ignacy Paderewski 02.jpg Ignacy Jan Paderewski
Independent
Ignacy Jan Paderewski
Independent
Ignacy Paderewski 02.jpg

BackgroundEdit

In 1919, the borders of the newly restored Polish state were not yet established. As a result, the government of Poland led by Jozef Pilsudski had problems creating the electoral districts. Upon a decree, signed by Pilsudski on 28 November 1918, Poland was divided into several districts, some of whom were not even part of the country. The list of these districts presents a declaration of Polish territorial claims rather than real situation of late 1918. It covers the whole territory of the Kingdom of Poland (1916–1918), formerly Russian Belostok Oblast, as well as whole former Austrian province of Galicia, even though its eastern part was area of a conflict between Poles and Ukrainians (see Polish–Ukrainian War).

The situation was even more complicated in the West, in territories which had belonged to the German Empire. Polish legislators created there several electoral districts, even in lands that never became part of the Second Polish Republic. Thus, apart from districts of Poznań, Toruń, Kartuzy, Katowice, and Gostyń, the government stipulated creation of districts in such locations, as Bytom (Beuthen), Nysa, Złotów (Flatow), Gdańsk (Danzig), and Olsztyn (Allenstein).[2] The 1919 election was not organized in these areas, as they remained part of Germany until 1945.

Furthermore, Polish legislators wanted the election to be organized in whole Cieszyn Silesia (see also Zaolzie). Therefore, districts were created there in Cieszyn and Frydek-Mistek. Also, the Nowy Targ district covered several communes of Orawa, and Spisz, with such towns, as Kežmarok, Stará Ľubovňa, and Spišská Nová Ves (these locations had been part of Poland until the late 18th century).

ResultsEdit

PartyVotes%Seats
Popular National Union1,616,15728.96140
Polish People's Party "Wyzwolenie"839,91415.0559
Jewish National Council602,92710.8011
Polish Socialist Party515,0629.2335
Peasants' Lists234,3994.200
Polish People's Party "Piast"232,9834.1746
Polish United Party212,0973.8035
Polish People's Party "Left"197,8383.5412
Catholic People's Party102,2921.8318
German National Minority96,6771.732
National Workers' Union67,2851.2132
Local lists and independents863,34915.474
Total5,580,980100.00394
Source: Nohlen & Stöver

AftermathEdit

The resulting parliament came to be known as the Legislative Sejm (Sejm Ustawodawczy). Among the first tasks of the Sejm was creation of the constitution, and the Small Constitution of 1919 was ratified ten days after the first session, on 20 February 1919. In 1921 parliament ratified the more comprehensive but also more controversial—supported by the Right, opposed by the Left—March Constitution of Poland[citation needed].

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Dieter Nohlen; Philip Stöver (31 May 2010). Elections in Europe: A Data Handbook. Nomos. p. 1491. ISBN 978-3-8329-5609-7. Retrieved 6 November 2012.
  2. ^ a b 80th Anniversary of inauguration of the Polish Parliament[permanent dead link] Sejm of Poland

Further readingEdit

  • A. J. Groth, Polish Elections 1919-1928, Slavic Review, Vol. 24, No. 4 (December 1965), pp653–665
  • Hubert Zawadzki A Concise History of Poland p223

External linksEdit