Democratic Left Alliance

Published 12th September, 2011

The Democratic Left Alliance or SLD was founded on 15th April 1991 as an alliance of the Social Democracy of the Polish Republic (SRP) and the All Poland Trade Unions’ Federation (OPZZ). It traces its roots back to the former ruling communist Polish United Workers’ Party ((PZPR). Today it descibes itself as centre left and social democratic.

In its first post communist election in 1991 the SLD managed to secure 60 seats in the 460 seat Sejm or lower house and were the second largest party. Their deputies faced some hostility in the new parliament but their image improved as problems occurred in the ruling centre right parties.

In 1993 the SLD made their breakthrough and were the largest party after the general election, taking 171 seats and 20.41% of the vote in the 460 seat Sejm or lower house. They immediately formed a coalition government with the Polish People’s Party (PSL).

In 1995 they had further success when their presidential candidate, Aleksander Kwaśniewski, beat Lech Wałęsa by a nail biting 3.4% difference in a second round runoff. He won again in 2000.

But in the 1997 election they were beaten by Solidarity Electoral Action (AWS) who formed a coalition government with the Freedom Union (UW). Nevertheless, the SLD took 27.13% of the vote, although they dropped seven seats to 164 seats.

In 2001 they took charge once more, taking 216 seats and 41% of the vote and formed a coalition government with the Union of Labour (UP) and Polish People’s Party (PSL) under Prime Minister Leszek Miller.

The party then went through a difficult period with internal strife and scandals leading to membership falling by a half and their popularity plummeting. Consequently, in the 2005 general election their vote plummeted to 11.3% and they won just 55 seats, a drop of 161 seats, to come in at fourth place in parliament.

On 3rd September 2006 they entered into an alliance with three other parties, the Social Democratic Party of Poland (SDPL), the Union of Labour (UP) and the Democratic Party (PD). The four parties fought the 2007 general election under the Left and Democrats (LiD) ticket and won 53 seats and 13.5% of the vote. The alliance broke up in April 2008 following a rift between the parties.

The Democratic Left Alliance are members of Socialist International. They have six of the 50 national seats in the European Parliament and are members of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats. They are a member party of the Party of European Socialists.

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