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Democratic Left Alliance

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Title: Democratic Left Alliance  
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Subject: Leszek Miller, Prime Minister of Poland, Ministry of Interior (Poland), Polish presidential election, 2010, European Parliament election, 2014 (Poland)
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Democratic Left Alliance

Democratic Left Alliance
Leader Leszek Miller
Founded 1991 (as coalition)
15 April 1999 (as party)
Headquarters ul. Złota 9 Warsaw
Youth wing Social Democratic Youth Federation
Ideology Social democracy,[1]
Third Way,[1]
Political position Centre-left
International affiliation Progressive Alliance,
Socialist International
European affiliation Party of European Socialists
European Parliament group Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats
Colours Red
31 / 460
0 / 100
European Parliament
4 / 51
Regional assemblies
85 / 561
County councils
493 / 6,290
Municipal councils
1,466 / 39,828
Politics of Poland
Political parties

Democratic Left Alliance (Polish: Sojusz Lewicy Demokratycznej, SLD) is a social-democratic[1][3][4][5] political party in Poland. Formed in 1991 as a coalition of centre-left parties, it was formally established as a single party on 15 April 1999. It is currently the third largest opposition party in Poland.


Communist roots

Many SLD politicians have their roots in the communist regime of the People's Republic of Poland. Most of the members who established the party in 1999 had previously been members of the Social Democracy of the Republic of Poland (SdRP) and the Polish Social Democratic Union, the two parties that were formed out of the remains of the Polish United Workers' Party (PZPR).

Ideology and support patterns

The coalition can be classified as left-wing, however, during the 1990s, it managed to attract voters from the pro-market and even right-wing camp.[6] The main support for SLD came from middle-rank state sector employees, retired people, former PZPR and OPZZ members and those who were unlikely to be frequent church-goers.[7] 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 introduction of religious education into school.[8] The excommunists 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 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 victory

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-gate

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. In the later 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.

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 alleged connections to the KGB.


However the SLD could not avoid from suffering a huge defeat in the 2005 parliamentary election, SLD only won 11.3% of the vote. This gave the party 55 seats, barely a quarter of what it had had prior to the election. It had 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 SLD leader.

In 2011 national parliamentary election SLD received 8.24% votes which gave them 27 seats in the Sejm.[9] After elections one of the party member, Sławomir Kopyciński, decided to leave SLD and join Palikot's Movement.[10] On December 10, 2011, Leszek Miller was chosen to return as the party leader.

Election results to the Sejm since 1991

Election year # of
% of
# of
overall seats won
1991 1,344,820 12
60 / 460
Decrease 113
1993 2,815,169 20.4
171 / 460
Increase 111
1997 3,551,224 27.1
164 / 460
Decrease 6
2001 5,342,519 41
216 / 460
Increase 52
2005 1,335,257 11.3
55 / 460
Decrease 161
2007 2,122,981 13.2
53 / 460
Decrease 2
2011 1,184,303 8.2
27 / 460
Decrease 26

Election results to the European Parliament since 2004

Election year # of
% of
# of
overall seats won
2004 569,311 9.4
5 / 54
Increase 5
2009 908,765 12.3
7 / 50
Increase 2
2014 667,319 9.4
5 / 51
Decrease 2

See also


  1. ^ a b c Parties and Elections in Europe: The database about parliamentary elections and political parties in Europe, by Wolfram Nordsieck
  2. ^ Ingo Peters (September 2011). 20 Years Since the Fall of the Berlin Wall: Transitions, State Break-Up and Democratic Politics in Central Europe and Germany. BWV Verlag. pp. 280–.  
  3. ^ José Magone (26 August 2010). Contemporary European Politics: A Comparative Introduction. Routledge. pp. 457–.  
  4. ^ Susanne Jungerstam-Mulders (2006). Post-Communist Eu Member States: Parties and Party Systems. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. pp. 94–.  
  5. ^ Dimitri Almeida (27 April 2012). The Impact of European Integration on Political Parties: Beyond the Permissive Consensus. CRC Press. pp. 71–.  
  6. ^ The Communist Successor Parties of Central and Eastern Europe by András Bozóki, John T. Ishiyama. M.E. Sharpe, 2002. pp 70-71
  7. ^ The Communist Successor Parties of Central and Eastern Europe by András Bozóki, John T. Ishiyama. M.E. Sharpe, 2002. p. 82
  8. ^ Communist and Post-communist Parties in Europe edited by Uwe Backes, Patrick Moreau. p. 321.
  9. ^ "Elections 2011 - Election results". National Electoral Commission. Retrieved 2011-11-20. 
  10. ^ "Poseł Kopyciński z SLD przeszedł do Ruchu Palikota" (in Polish).  

External links

  • Official website
  • The Warsaw Voice Article. 24 November 2004.
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