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Civic Platform (Polish: Platforma Obywatelska, PO)[nb 1] is a liberal-conservative, Christian democratic political party in Poland. Civic Platform came to power following the 2007 general election as the major coalition partner in Poland's government, with party leader Donald Tusk as Prime Minister of Poland. Tusk was re-elected as Prime Minister in the 2011 general election but stepped down three years later to assume the post of President of the European Council. Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz led the party in the 2015 general election but was defeated by the Law and Justice party. On 16 November 2015 Civic Platform government stepped down after exactly 8 years in power. In 2010 Civic Platform candidate Bronisław Komorowski was elected as President of Poland, but failed in running for re-election in 2015. PO is the second largest party in the Sejm, with 138 seats, and the Senate, with 33 seats. Civic Platform is a member of the European People's Party (EPP).
|Founded||24 January 2001|
|Split from||Solidarity Electoral Action|
|Headquarters||ul. Władysława Andersa 21, 00-159 Warszawa|
|Youth wing||Association "Young Democrats"|
|Political position||Centre to|
|National affiliation||Civic Coalition |
|European affiliation||European People's Party|
|European Parliament group||European People's Party|
138 / 460
27 / 100
18 / 51
153 / 552
The party was formed in 2001 as a split from Solidarity Electoral Action (AWS), under the leadership of Andrzej Olechowski and Maciej Płażyński, with Donald Tusk of the Freedom Union (UW). In the 2001 general election, PO emerged as the largest opposition party, behind the ruling centre-left party Democratic Left Alliance (SLD). PO remained the second-largest party at the 2005 general election, but this time behind the national-conservative party Law and Justice (PiS). In 2007, Civic Platform overtook PiS, now established as the dominant parties, and formed a coalition government with the Polish People's Party. Following the Smolensk disaster of April 2010, Bronisław Komorowski became the first President from PO in the 2010 presidential election.
The Civic Platform was founded in 2001 as a split from existing parties. Founders Andrzej Olechowski, Maciej Płażyński, and Donald Tusk were sometimes jokingly called "the Three Tenors" by Polish media and commentators. Olechowski and Płażyński left the party during the 2001–2005 parliamentary term, leaving Tusk as the sole remaining founder, and current party leader. In 2009, in interviews to Rzeczpospolita daily newspaper and Polsat News (3 July 2009), General Gromosław Czempiński, who in 1972–1990 had been an agent of Communist secret services, stated that the Civic Platform was his idea. "I can say that I participated in a number of discussions, above all, I had to convince Olechowski and Paweł Piskorski to an idea, which they excellently put into practice. I also talked to Donald Tusk", said Czempiński. Czempinski's words were confirmed by Andrzej Olechowski (also an agent of Communist services, operational name "Must"), who in an interview given to Gazeta Polska said: "General Czempinski surely participated in a way in forming such ideas ... I talked to General Czempinski about the newly created movement".
In 2005, PO led all opinion polls with 26% to 30% of public support. However, in the 2005 general election, in which it was led by Jan Rokita, PO polled only 24.1% and unexpectedly came second to the 27% garnered by Law and Justice (PiS). A centre-right coalition of PO and PiS (nicknamed:PO-PiS) was deemed most likely to form a government after the election. Yet the putative coalition parties had a falling out in the wake of the fiercely contested Polish presidential election of 2005.
Lech Kaczyński (PiS) won the second round of the presidential election on 23 October 2005 with 54% of the vote, ahead of Tusk, the PO candidate. Due to the demands of PiS for control of all the armed ministries (the Defence Ministry, the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs) and the office of the Prime Minister, PO and PiS were unable to form a coalition. Instead, PiS formed a coalition government with the support of the League of Polish Families (LPR) and Self-Defense of the Republic of Poland (SRP). PO became the opposition to this PiS-led coalition government.
The PiS-led coalition fell apart in 2007 amid corruption scandal with Andrzej Lepper and Tomasz Lipiec and internal leadership disputes. These events led to the new elections in 2007. In the 21 October 2007 parliamentary election, PO won 41.51% of the popular vote and 209 out of 460 seats (now 201) in the Sejm and 60 out of 100 seats (now 56) in the Senate of Poland. Civic Platform, now the largest party in both houses of parliament, subsequently formed a coalition with the Polish People's Party (PSL).
At the Polish presidential election of 2010, following the Smolensk air disaster which killed the incumbent Polish president Lech Kaczyński, Tusk decided not to present his candidature, considered an easy possible victory over PiS leader Jarosław Kaczyński. During the PO primary elections, Bronisław Komorowski defeated the Oxford-educated, PiS defector Foreign Minister Radosław Sikorski. At the polls, Komorowski defeated Jarosław Kaczyński, ensuring PO dominance over the current Polish political landscape.
In November 2010, local elections granted Civic Platform about 30.1 percent of the votes and PiS at 23.2 percent, an increase for the former and a drop for the latter compared to the 2006 elections.
PO succeeded in winning four consecutive elections (a record in post-communist Poland), and Tusk remains as kingmaker. PO's dominance is also a reflection of left-wing weakness and divisions on both sides of the political scene, with PiS suffering a splinter in Autumn 2010.
In the 2015 presidential election, PO endorsed Bronisław Komorowski, a former member of PO from 2001 till 2010. He lost the election receiving 48.5% of the popular vote, while Andrzej Duda won with 51.5%.
As a centre-right political party, Civic Platform has been described as liberal, liberal-conservative, conservative-liberal Christian democratic, and pro-European.
Civic Platform combines ordoliberal stances on the economy with social conservative stances on social and ethical issues, including opposition to abortion, same-sex marriage, soft drug decriminalisation, euthanasia, fetal stem cell research, removal of crosses and other religious symbols in schools and public places, and partially to wide availability of in vitro fertilisation. The party also wants to criminalise gambling and supports religious education in schools and civil unions. Other socially conservative stances of the party include voting to ban designer drugs and amending the penal code to introduce mandatory chemical castration of paedophiles. However, it is somewhat less strident on social issues than Law and Justice.
Despite declaring in the parliamentary election campaign the will to limit taxation in Poland, the Civic Platform has in fact increased it. The party refrained from implementing the flat tax, increasing instead the value-added tax from 22% to 23% in 2011. It has also increased the excise imposed on diesel oil, alcoholic beverages, tobacco and oil. The party has eliminated many tax exemptions.
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Today, Civic Platform enjoys support amongst higher class constituencies. Professionals, academics, managers and businessmen vote for the party in large numbers. People with university degrees support the party more than less educated voters. PO voters tend to be those people who generally benefited from European integration and economic liberalisation since 1989 and are satisfied with their life standard. Many PO voters are social-liberals who value environmentalism, secularism and Europeanisation. Conservatives used to vote for the party before PO moved sharply to the left on economic (e.g., increase of taxes) and social issues (e.g., support for civil unions). Young people are another voting bloc that abandoned the party, after their economic and social situation did not improve significantly when PO was in government.
Areas that are more likely to vote for PO are west and north of the country, especially parts of the former Prussia before 1918. Many of these people previously used to vote for the Democratic Left Alliance when that party enjoyed support and influence. Large cities in the whole country prefer the party, rather than rural areas and smaller towns. This is caused by the diversity, secular and social liberalism urban voters tend to value. In urban areas, conservative principles are much less identified with by voters. Large cities in Poland have a better economic climate, which draws support to PO. Areas with higher concentration of minorities, such as Germans or Belarusians, support the party due to its smaller emphasis on patriotism and national conservatism.
|Election year||Leader||# of
overall seats won
|2001||Maciej Płażyński||1,651,099||12.7 (#2)||
65 / 460
|2005||Donald Tusk||2,849,259||24.1 (#2)||
133 / 460
|2007||Donald Tusk||6,701,010||41.5 (#1)||
209 / 460
|2011||Donald Tusk||5,629,773||39.2 (#1)||
207 / 460
|2015||Ewa Kopacz||3,661,474||24.1 (#2)||
138 / 460
|Election year||# of
overall seats won
2 / 100
|As part of the Senate 2001 coalition, which won 15 seats.|
34 / 100
60 / 100
63 / 100
34 / 100
|Election year||Candidate||1st round||2nd round|
|# of overall votes||% of overall vote||# of overall votes||% of overall vote|
|2005||Donald Tusk||5,429,666||36.3 (#1)||7,022,319||46.0 (#2)|
|2010||Bronisław Komorowski||6,981,319||41.5 (#1)||8,933,887||53.0 (#1)|
|2015||Supported Bronisław Komorowski||5,031,060||33.8 (#2)||8,112,311||48.5 (#2)|
|Election year||% of
overall seats won
79 / 561
|In coalition with Law and Justice (POPiS).|
186 / 561
222 / 561
179 / 555
194 / 552
|As a Civic Coalition.|
|Election year||# of
overall seats won
15 / 54
25 / 50
19 / 51
|Elżbieta Polak||Lubusz Voivodeship||29 November 2010|
|Marek Woźniak||Greater Poland Voivodeship||10 October 2005|
|Piotr Całbecki||Kuyavian-Pomeranian Voivodeship||24 January 2006|
|Olgierd Geblewicz||West Pomeranian Voivodeship||7 December 2010|
|Mieczysław Struk||Pomeranian Voivodeship||22 February 2010|
|Andrzej Buła||Opole Voivodeship||12 November 2013|
- The party is officially the Civic Platform of the Republic of Poland (Platforma Obywatelska Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej).
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- Official website (in Polish)