Democratic Left Alliance

Democratic Left Alliance
Sojusz Lewicy Demokratycznej
Leader Włodzimierz Czarzasty
Founded 1991 (as a coalition)
15 April 1999 (as a party)
Merger of SdRP, minor parties
Headquarters ul. Złota 9 Warsaw
Youth wing Social Democratic Youth Federation
Membership  (2012) 36,328[1]
Ideology Social democracy[2]
Third way
Political position Centre-left
European affiliation Party of European Socialists
International affiliation Progressive Alliance,
Socialist International
European Parliament group Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats
Colours Red
0 / 460
0 / 100
European Parliament
3 / 51
Regional assemblies
19 / 555

Democratic Left Alliance (Polish: Sojusz Lewicy Demokratycznej, SLD) is a social-democratic[3][4][5] political party in Poland. It was formed in 1991 as an electoral alliance of centre-left parties, and became a single party on 15 April 1999. It has always been considered a post-communist party.[6] It has no parliamentary representation as of the 2015 parliamentary election.


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.[7] The main support for SLD came from middle-rank state sector employees, retired people, former Polish United Workers Party (PUWP) and OPZZ members and those who were unlikely to be frequent church-goers.[8] 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.[9] 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 PUWP. An alliance between the SLD and the Polish People's Party (PSL) ruled Poland in the years 19931997. 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.

Opposition: 2005–present

However the SLD could not avoid 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 the 2011 parliamentary election, SLD received 8.24% of the vote which gave it 27 seats in the Sejm.[10] After the elections, one of the party members, Sławomir Kopyciński, decided to leave SLD and join Palikot's Movement.[11] On December 10, 2011, Leszek Miller was chosen to return as the party leader.

In the 2014 European elections on 25 May 2014, the SLD received 9.4% of the national vote and returned 4 MEPs.

In July 2015 the SLD along with Your Movement (TR), Labour United (UP) and The Greens (PZ) formed the United Left electoral alliance to contest the upcoming election.[12][13]

In the 2015 parliamentary election held on 25 October 2015, the United Left list received 7.6% of the vote, below the 8% threshold, leaving the SLD without parliamentary representation for the first time.


Allegations of Post-communism

SLD is often accused of Post-communism by right-wing political parties as large amount of SLD members were members of Polish United Workers' Party (PUWP) before 1990. Second argument given by the far-right is that SLD uses red color which is used by Marxist parties. SLD was founded by former secretaries of PUWP such as Aleksander Kwaśniewski and Włodzimierz Cimoszewicz.

Moscow Loan

The "Moscow Loan" was a loan of US$1.2 million by Communist Party of the Soviet Union to the PUWP in January 1990. The PUWP coordinators were Mieczysław Rakowski and Leszek Miller. After it was revealed in 1991, Włodzimierz Cimoszewicz advised Leszek Miller not to take Parliamentary oath, which according to the Polish constitution means automatic refusal to take Parliamentary seat, but Miller refused to do this and took his Parliamentary seat. On 29 May 1992, the Sejm gave permission for criminal procedure against Leszek Miller.

Election results


Election year # of
% of
# of
overall seats won
+/– Govt?
1991 1,344,820 12.0 (#2)
60 / 460
Decrease 113 Opposition
1993 2,815,169 20.4 (#1)
171 / 460
Increase 111 Coalition
1997 3,551,224 27.1 (#2)
164 / 460
Decrease 6 Opposition
2001 5,342,519 41.0 (#1)
196 / 460
Increase 32 Coalition
As part of the SLD-UP coalition, which won 216 seats in total.
2005 1,335,257 11.3 (#4)
55 / 460
Decrease 145 Opposition
2007 2,122,981 13.2 (#3)
40 / 460
Decrease 15 Opposition
As part of the Left and Democrats coalition, which won 53 seats in total.
2011 1,184,303 8.2 (#5)
27 / 460
Decrease 13 Opposition
2015 1,147,102 7.6 (#5)
0 / 460
Decrease 27 Opposition
As part of the United Left coalition, which did not win any seats.


Election year # of
overall seats won
4 / 100
Increase 4
37 / 100
Increase 33
28 / 100
Decrease 9
75 / 100
Increase 47
0 / 100
Decrease 75
0 / 100
0 / 100
0 / 100


Election year Candidate 1st round 2nd round
# of overall votes % of overall vote # of overall votes % of overall vote
1990 Supported Włodzimierz Cimoszewicz 1,514,025 9.2 (#4)
1995 Aleksander Kwaśniewski 6,275,670 35.1 (#1) 9,704,439 51.7 (#1)
2000 Supported Aleksander Kwaśniewski 9,485,224 53.9 (#1)
2005 Włodzimierz Cimoszewicz (candidate withdrew)
2010 Grzegorz Napieralski 2,299,870 13.7 (#3)
2015 Magdalena Ogórek 353,883 2.4 (#5)

European Parliament

Election year # of
% of
# of
overall seats won
2004 569,311 9.4 (#5)
5 / 54
Increase 5
2009 908,765 12.3 (#3)
7 / 50
Increase 2
2014 667,319 9.4 (#3)
5 / 51
Decrease 2

Regional assemblies

Election year % of
# of
overall seats won
1998 30.2 (#2)
329 / 855
2002 24.7 (#1)
189 / 561
2006 14.3 (#3)
66 / 561
Decrease 123
As part of the Left and Democrats coalition.
2010 15.2 (#4)
85 / 561
Increase 19
2014 8.8 (#4)
28 / 555
Decrease 57

See also


  1. "Polskie partie to fikcja". Retrieved 30 June 2016.
  2. Parties and Elections in Europe: The database about parliamentary elections and political parties in Europe, by Wolfram Nordsieck
  3. José Magone (26 August 2010). Contemporary European Politics: A Comparative Introduction. Routledge. p. 457. ISBN 978-0-203-84639-1. Retrieved 19 July 2013.
  4. Susanne Jungerstam-Mulders (2006). Post-Communist Eu Member States: Parties and Party Systems. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. p. 94. ISBN 978-0-7546-4712-6. Retrieved 6 February 2013.
  5. Dimitri Almeida (27 April 2012). The Impact of European Integration on Political Parties: Beyond the Permissive Consensus. CRC Press. p. 71. ISBN 978-1-136-34039-0. Retrieved 14 July 2013.
  7. The Communist Successor Parties of Central and Eastern Europe by András Bozóki, John T. Ishiyama. M.E. Sharpe, 2002. pp 70-71
  8. The Communist Successor Parties of Central and Eastern Europe by András Bozóki, John T. Ishiyama. M.E. Sharpe, 2002. p. 82
  9. Communist and Post-communist Parties in Europe edited by Uwe Backes, Patrick Moreau. p. 321.
  10. "Elections 2011 - Election results". National Electoral Commission. Retrieved 2011-11-20.
  11. "Poseł Kopyciński z SLD przeszedł do Ruchu Palikota" (in Polish). 2011-10-20. Retrieved 2011-11-20.
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