The Polish People’s Party
Published 12th September, 2011
The Polish People’s Party (sometimes called the Polish Peasant’s Party) or PSL was founded in 1945 by Stanislaw Mikolajczyk, although its roots go back as far as 1895 and the Peasant Party founded in Galicia (South East Poland). It describes its ideology as agrarian and its political position as centrist and Christian democratic.
The party founded in 1945 had a brief life under communism and was absorbed into the United Peasant Party (ZSL). In 1989, as Poland led the way from communism, a group of rural activists revived the PSL and after some consolidation it fought its first presidential election where its candidate Roman Bartoszcze came fifth with 7.15% of the vote.
In 1991 Bartoszcze was replaced as leader by Waldemar Pawlak who took them into the 1991 general election where they won 48 seats in the 460 seat Sejm or lower house. In the 1993 election they polled strongly and came second with 132 seats. They joined a coalition government with the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) and Waldemar Pawlak became prime minister. There were frictions, however, and Pawlak was replaced as prime minister in February 1995.
In 1997 the party dropped to 27 seats and 7.3% of the vote and over the next two years was weakened further by other peasant parties establishing themselves in competition. Regardless, in the 2001 general election they did better and won 41 seats and 9% of the vote.
In 2005 they won 25 seats and in 2007 they won 31 seats and went into a majority coalition government with Civic Platform (PO).
The Polish People’s Party has three of the 50 national seats in the European Parliament and is a member of the European People’s Party (EPP). They are also members of Centrist Democrat International.