Old and new divisions in Polish politics: Polish parties' electoral strategies and bases of support

Szczerbiak, Aleks (2003) Old and new divisions in Polish politics: Polish parties' electoral strategies and bases of support. Europe-Asia Studies, 55 (5). pp. 729-746. ISSN 0966-8136

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This article attempts to shed light on the evolving Polish party system and the changing relationship between Polish parties and their voters. It examines both party electoral strategies (whom they were trying to get to vote for them) and their bases of support and electoral profile (who actually voted for them). The focus is on the six parties and groupings that secured parliamentary representation following the September 2001 election: the SLD-UP coalition, PO, Samoobrona, PiS, the PSL and LPR. The article argues that there appears to be one large truly 'catch-all' political grouping on the centre-left, the SLD-UP coalition, that is able to win over a substantial number of voters in virtually every segment of the electorate, including those previously considered 'out of bounds'. There are also two right-wing groupings, the PiS and LPR, with very similar, fairly heterogeneous (and in some ways broadly complementary) socio-economic electoral profiles and electorates that appear to be more ideologically rooted, although this is somewhat clearer in the case of the LPR. At the same time there are three groupings with somewhat more clearly defined socio-economic electoral profiles: the liberal PO, which appears to have basically taken over from the UW, and the agrarian-populist Samoobrona and the PSL, which appeal to similar rural-agrarian electorates. The article also argues that there is clearly some evidence of the old political divisions based on attitudes towards the past and moral-cultural issues giving way to voting based on socio-economic class, as some commentators predicted that they would, but that the extent of this should not be overstated. The old divisions are still there, if only in terms of defining the 'core' left and right electorates. Rather than socio-economic class or interest-based voting (which traditionally structured West European party systems), there appears to be a movement towards a pattern of party competition based on what might be termed 'valence' issues associated with competence and an ability to achieve shared objectives and goals.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Law, Politics and Sociology > Politics
Depositing User: Aleks Szczerbiak
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2012 20:59
Last Modified: 29 Jun 2012 13:28
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/29010
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