Democratic Left Alliance

The Democratic Left Alliance (Polish: Sojusz Lewicy Demokratycznej) was a social-democratic[7][8][9] political party in Poland. It was formed in 1991 as an electoral alliance of centre-left parties, and became a single party on 15 April 1999. It was the major coalition party in Poland between 1993 and 1997, and between 2001 and 2005, from which came four Prime ministers: Józef Oleksy, Włodzimierz Cimoszewicz, Leszek Miller and Marek Belka. It then faded into opposition, shadowed by the rise of Civic Platform and Law and Justice.

Democratic Left Alliance
Sojusz Lewicy Democraktycznej
LeaderWłodzimierz Czarzasty
FounderAleksander Kwaśniewski
Founded1991 (as a coalition)
15 April 1999 (as a party)
Dissolved27 January 2020 (2020-01-27)
Merger ofSdRP, minor parties (1991)
Merged intoNew Left
Headquartersul. Złota 9 Warsaw
Youth wingSocial Democratic Youth Federation
Membership (2018)Increase 33,554[1]
IdeologySocial democracy
Political positionCentre-left[6]
National affiliationThe Left[a]
European affiliationParty of European Socialists
International affiliationProgressive Alliance
European Parliament groupProgressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats

^ a: Previously SLD-UP (2001–14), Left and Democrats (2006–08), United Left (2015) and the European Coalition (2019).

In February 2020, the party initiated a process to absorb the Spring party, choosing the name New Left (Polish: Nowa Lewica), and changing to a more modern logo.

The party was a member of the Party of European Socialists and Progressive Alliance.


Ideology and support patternsEdit

The party can be classified as centre-left. However, during the 1990s, it managed to attract voters from the pro-market and even right-wing camp.[10] The main support for SLD came from middle-rank state sector employees, retired people, former communist Polish United Workers Party (PZPR) and All-Poland Alliance of Trade Unions (OPZZ)[clarification needed] members and those who were unlikely to be frequent church-goers.[11] The core of the coalition (Social Democracy of the Republic of Poland) rejected concepts such as lustration and de-communization, supported a parliamentarian regime with only the role of an arbiter for the president and criticized the right-wing camp for the introduction of religious education into school.[12] The ex-communists criticized the economic reforms, pointing to the high social costs, without negating the reforms per se.


SdRP, SDU and some other socialist and social-democratic parties had formed the original Democratic Left Alliance as a centre-left coalition just prior to the nation's first free elections in 1991. In 1999 the coalition became a party but lost some members.

At the time, the coalition's membership drew mostly from the former PZPR. An alliance between the SLD and the Polish People's Party (PSL) ruled Poland in the years 1993–1997. However, the coalition lost power to the right-wing Solidarity Electoral Action in the 1997 election as the right-wing opposition was united this time and because of the decline of support for SLD's coalition partner PSL, though the SLD itself actually gained votes.

Electoral victoryEdit

SLD formed a coalition with Labour Union before the 2001 Polish election and won it overwhelmingly at last by capturing about 5.3 million votes, 42% of the whole and won 200 of 460 seats in the Sejm and 75 of 100 in the Senate. After the elections, the coalition was joined by the Polish People's Party (PSL) in forming a government and Leszek Miller became the Prime Minister. In March 2003, the PSL left the coalition.


By 2004 the support for SLD in the polls had dropped from about 30% to just below 10%, and several high-ranking party members had been accused of taking part in high-profile political scandals by the mainstream press (most notably the Rywin affair: Rywin-gate).

On 6 March 2004, Leszek Miller resigned as party leader and was replaced by Krzysztof Janik. On March 26 the Sejm speaker Marek Borowski, together with other high-ranking SLD officials, announced the creation of a new centre-left party, the Social Democratic Party of Poland. On the next day, Leszek Miller announced he would step down as Prime Minister on 2 May 2004, the day after Poland joined the European Union. Miller proceeded to do so.

Decline after Rywin-gateEdit

In the 2004 European Parliament election, it only received 9% of the votes, giving it 5 of 54 seats reserved for Poland in the European Parliament, as part of the Party of European Socialists.

Wojciech Olejniczak, the former Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, was elected the president of SLD on 29 May 2004, succeeded Józef Oleksy, who resigned from the post of Polish Prime Minister due to false accusations of links to the KGB.

Opposition: 2005 and afterEdit

The 2004 European elections foreshadowed the SLD's huge defeat in the 2005 parliamentary election, in which it won only 11.3% of the vote. This gave the party 55 seats, barely a quarter of what it had had prior to the election. It also lost all of its Senators. In late 2006 a centre-left political alliance called Left and Democrats was created, comprising SLD and smaller centre-left parties, the Labour Union, the Social Democratic Party of Poland, and the liberal Democratic Party – The coalition won a disappointing 13% in the 2007 parliamentary election and was dissolved soon after in April 2008. On 31 May 2008, Olejniczak was replaced by Grzegorz Napieralski as an SLD leader.

In the 2009 European election the Democratic Left Alliance-Labor Union joint ticket received 12% of the vote and 7 MEPs were elected as part of the newly retitled Socialists & Democrats group.

In the 2011 parliamentary election, SLD received 8.24% of the vote which gave it 27 seats in the Sejm.[13] After the elections, one of the party members, Sławomir Kopyciński, decided to leave SLD and join Palikot's Movement.[14] On December 10, 2011, Leszek Miller was chosen to return as the party leader.

In the 2014 European elections on 25 May 2014, the SLD received 9.4% of the national vote and returned 4 MEPs.

In July 2015 the SLD formed the United Left electoral alliance along with Your Movement (TR), Labour United (UP) and The Greens (PZ) and minor parties to contest the upcoming election.[15][16]

In the 2015 parliamentary election held on 25 October 2015, the United Left list received 7.6% of the vote,[17] below the 8% threshold (electoral alliances must win at least 8% of the vote, as opposed to the 5% for individual parties),[18] leaving the SLD without parliamentary representation for the first time. Indeed, for the first time since the end of Communism, no centre-left parties won any seats in this election.[19]

In 2017, the party withdrew from the Socialist International, while maintaining ties with the Progressive Alliance.[citation needed]

For the 2019 parliamentary election SLD formed an alliance with Razem and Wiosna, known as The Left.[20] In the 2019 parliamentary election, the alliance won 12.6% of the vote and 49 seats in the Sejm, with the SLD winning 24. Later, it was announced that the Democratic Left Alliance would form with the Spring new political party called the New Left. The creation was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[21]

Voter baseEdit

The SLD is usually seen as the face of the standard Polish left, having achieved notable electoral success during the 90s and benefitting from a strongly organized network of local offices, which span 320 of Poland's 380 administrative counties. For this reason, it was often viewed as the go-to party for left-leaning Poles for the majority of Poland's modern history.[22][23] The party's monopoly on mainstream left-wing economic ideas in Poland however ended, after the right-wing PiS party adopted many economically interventionist positions, which led a considerable portion of economically left-wing Poles to vote for PiS instead.[24][25]

Besides self-described left-wingers, the party enjoys the support of many members of the country's police and military, but its largest voting bloc resides among former PZPR members, government officials and civil servants during the PPR period, which are seen as the party's core supporters. The loyal support of this voting bloc enabled the SLD to remain the largest party of the Polish left, even throughout the scandals that rocked the party in the early 2000s.[23][26][27]

However, this electoral bloc was seen as unreliable by political observers[citation needed], as despite the fact that it originally constituted a huge voting bloc, that segment of the population would inevitably shrink as its members steadily age[citation needed]. Following the passage of a "degradation law" by the ruling right-wing PiS party, which cut pensions and disability benefits to thousands of former bureaucrats, however, the party has undergone a revival, as more and more people's primary income came to be threatened by the new government policy. This led many of those affected to support the SLD, thus enlarging and mobilizing the formerly shrinking voting bloc.[23][26][28]

The SLD nonetheless made a significant effort to broaden its political appeal by joining forces with two smaller left-wing parties in 2019, creating The Left political alliance, which poses itself as a 'modern' take on leftism.[29][30]

Election resultsEdit


Election year Leader # of
% of
# of
overall seats won
+/– Govt?
1991 Aleksander Kwaśniewski 1,344,820 12.0 (#2)
60 / 460
  113 Opposition
1993 2,815,169 20.4 (#1)
171 / 460
  111 Coalition
1997 Włodzimierz Cimoszewicz 3,551,224 27.1 (#2)
164 / 460
  6 Opposition
2001 Leszek Miller 5,342,519 41.0 (#1)
200 / 460
  32 Coalition
As part of the SLD-UP coalition, which won 216 seats in total.
2005 Wojciech Olejniczak 1,335,257 11.3 (#4)
55 / 460
  145 Opposition
2007 2,122,981 13.2 (#3)
40 / 460
  15 Opposition
As part of the Left and Democrats coalition, which won 53 seats in total.
2011 Grzegorz Napieralski 1,184,303 8.2 (#5)
27 / 460
  13 Opposition
2015 Leszek Miller 1,147,102 7.6 (#5)
0 / 460
  27 Extra-parliamentary
As part of the United Left coalition, which did not win any seats.
2019 Włodzimierz Czarzasty 2,319,946 12.6 (#3)
24 / 460
  24 Opposition
As part of The Left coalition, which won 49 seats in total.


Election year # of votes % of vote # of
overall seats won
1991 2,431,178 21.2
4 / 100
1993 4,993,061 35.7
37 / 100
1997 6,091,721 45.7
28 / 100
2001 10,476,677 38.7
70 / 100
As part of the SLD-UP coalition, which won 75 seats in total.
2005 3,114,118 12.9
0 / 100
2007 4,751,281 14.6
0 / 100
As part of the Left and Democrats coalition, which did not win any seats.
2011 1,307,547 9.0
0 / 100
2015 595,206 4.0
0 / 100
As part of the United Left coalition, which did not win any seats.
2019 415,745 2.3
0 / 100
As part of The Left coalition, which won 2 seats in total.


Election year Candidate 1st round 2nd round
# of overall votes % of overall vote # of overall votes % of overall vote
1990 Supported Włodzimierz Cimoszewicz 1,514,025 9.2 (#4)
1995 Aleksander Kwaśniewski 6,275,670 35.1 (#1) 9,704,439 51.7 (#1)
2000 Supported Aleksander Kwaśniewski 9,485,224 53.9 (#1)
2005 Supported Marek Borowski 1,544,642 10.3% (#4)
2010 Grzegorz Napieralski 2,299,870 13.7 (#3)
2015 Supported Magdalena Ogórek 353,883 2.4 (#5)
2020 Supported Robert Biedroń 432,129 2.2 (#6)

European ParliamentEdit

Election year # of
% of
# of
overall seats won
2004 569,311 9.4 (#5)
5 / 54
2009 908,765 12.3 (#3)
7 / 50
2014 667,319 9.4 (#3)
5 / 51
2019 5 249 935 38,47 (#2)
5 / 51
As part of the European Coalition, which won 22 seats in total.

Regional assembliesEdit

Election year % of
# of
overall seats won
1998 31.8 (#2)
329 / 855
2002 24.7 (#1)
189 / 561
2006 14.3 (#3)
66 / 561
As part of the Left and Democrats coalition.
2010 15.2 (#4)
85 / 561
2014 8.8 (#4)
28 / 555
2018 6.7 (#4)
11 / 552

Presidents and Prime MinistersEdit

Presidents of the Republic of Poland from SLDEdit

Name Imamge From To
Aleksander Kwaśniewski   23 December 1995 23 December 2005

Prime Ministers of the Republic of Poland from SLDEdit

Name Imamge From To
Józef Oleksy   7 March 1995 7 February 1996
Włodzimierz Cimoszewicz   7 February 1996 31 October 1997
Leszek Miller   19 October 2001 2 May 2004
Marek Belka   2 May 2004 31 October 2005

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Polskie partie to fikcja". Archived from the original on 14 June 2016. Retrieved 30 June 2016.
  2. ^ "SLD dołącza do Koalicji Europejskiej na eurowybory. Kandydatami Miller, Belka i Cimoszewicz". gazetapl (in Polish). Retrieved 2019-05-08.
  3. ^ "SLD - historia" (in Polish). Retrieved 15 September 2019.
  4. ^ "Miller broni wojny z terroryzmem" (in Polish). Retrieved 15 September 2019.
  5. ^ "Jak rozpętaliśmy..." (in Polish). Retrieved 15 September 2019.
  6. ^ Henningsen, Bernd; Etzold, Tobias; Hanne, Krister, eds. (15 September 2017). The Baltic Sea Region: A Comprehensive Guide: History, Politics, Culture and Economy of a European Role Model. Berliner Wissenschafts-Verlag. p. 352. ISBN 978-3-8305-1727-6.
  7. ^ José Magone (26 August 2010). Contemporary European Politics: A Comparative Introduction. Routledge. p. 457. ISBN 978-0-203-84639-1. Retrieved 19 July 2013.
  8. ^ Susanne Jungerstam-Mulders (2006). Post-Communist Eu Member States: Parties and Party Systems. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. p. 94. ISBN 978-0-7546-4712-6. Retrieved 6 February 2013.
  9. ^ Dimitri Almeida (27 April 2012). The Impact of European Integration on Political Parties: Beyond the Permissive Consensus. CRC Press. p. 71. ISBN 978-1-136-34039-0. Retrieved 14 July 2013.
  10. ^ The Communist Successor Parties of Central and Eastern Europe by András Bozóki, John T. Ishiyama. M.E. Sharpe, 2002. pp 70-71
  11. ^ The Communist Successor Parties of Central and Eastern Europe by András Bozóki, John T. Ishiyama. M.E. Sharpe, 2002. p. 82
  12. ^ Communist and Post-communist Parties in Europe edited by Uwe Backes, Patrick Moreau. p. 321.
  13. ^ "Elections 2011 – Election results". National Electoral Commission. Archived from the original on 2011-12-14. Retrieved 2011-11-20.
  14. ^ "Poseł Kopyciński z SLD przeszedł do Ruchu Palikota" (in Polish). 2011-10-20. Archived from the original on 2011-11-22. Retrieved 2011-11-20.
  15. ^ "Polish left to unite for general election". Archived from the original on 1 December 2017. Retrieved 4 May 2018.
  16. ^ "United Left to unveil programme in mid-August". Archived from the original on 1 December 2017. Retrieved 4 May 2018.
  17. ^ Hubert Tworzecki; Radosław Markowski (2015-11-03). "Did Poland just vote in an authoritarian government?". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on 2016-12-05.
  18. ^ Nardelli, Alberto (2015-10-22). "Polish elections 2015: a guide to the parties, polls and electoral system". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 2017-01-09.
  19. ^ Gaeta, Vanessa (2015-10-28). "Left wing is shut out in parliamentary vote in conservative Poland". The Boston Globe. Associated Press. Archived from the original on 2017-03-04.
  20. ^ "Lewica łączy siły: SLD, Razem i Wiosna w wspólnym bloku". Media Narodowe (in Polish). 2019-07-18. Retrieved 2019-08-22.
  21. ^,zjednoczenie-sld-i-wiosny-w-nowa-lewice-kiedy.html Gazeta Prawna (in Polish) 2020-06-09. Retrieved 2020-07-02
  22. ^ "[Opinion] Polish Left need to unite for October election". EUobserver. Retrieved 2019-10-18.
  23. ^ a b c Szczerbiak, Aleks (2018-04-30). "What are the prospects for the Polish left?". London School of Economics series on Evidence-based analysis and commentary on European politics. Retrieved 2019-10-18.
  24. ^ "Polish voters give their verdict on four years of right-wing populists". The Independent. 2019-10-12. Retrieved 2019-10-18.
  25. ^ "Socialists set to make comeback in Polish elections next month". The Independent. 2019-09-21. Retrieved 2019-10-18.
  26. ^ a b "Lewica: a united Polish left". Retrieved 2019-10-16.
  27. ^ "2019 election for Poland's parliament: What you need to know". The Krakow Post. 2019-10-12. Retrieved 2019-10-18.
  28. ^ SADURA, Przemysław; SIERAKOWSKI, Sławomir (2019). POLITICAL CYNICISM: The Case of Poland (PDF).
  29. ^ "Poland's fragmented opposition coalesces into left, center blocs". Reuters. 2019-07-18. Retrieved 2019-10-16.
  30. ^ "Polish leftists join forces ahead of elections". Retrieved 2019-10-18.

External linksEdit