Tensions Over Pensions May Put Poland’s Most Stable Government in Retirement

Another student guest post, this one on the recent challenges facing Poland’s governing coalition.

The yellow dots represent Civic Platform seats. The green dots belong to their coalition partner, the Polish People’s Party.
(Thank you Wikipedia for your graphics!).

The Polish government currently consists of a relatively weak coalition of the center-right, including the center-right Civic Platform (PO) and their junior partner, the agrarian Polish People’s Party (PSL). This coalition has governed since the previous election in 2007, emerged from the new elections in 2011 with 47.6%, or 235 (51%) of 460 seats. They have lost a seat since then, leaving them with only a three-seat majority. That said, for an administration change to occur in Parliament a majority is required, which is unlikely because the hard right main opposition and minor further left parties would have to join forces. In addition, this coalition has been surprisingly more stable than the norm since the constitution of 1997. PSL, which 28 seats to Civic Platform’s 206, seeks 3 ministries in the cabinet: agriculture, economic, and social policy.

The coalition is now under particular stress due to a tough debate about pension reform. The legislation, which includes gradually raising the retirement age to 67 from 60 for women and 65 for men, is not supported by junior partner the Polish People’s Party. Public opinion is overwhelmingly opposed to raising the retirement age, but the reform has been part of Prime Minister Tusk’s plans since his reelection.

Another center party, Palikot’s Movement, placed third in 2011 despite having just been formed. This party is essentially liberal with particular focus on individual social freedom and secularism. I think this party is unlikely to seek a coalition because it is both newly formed and relies on youth support, so they will nott want to look like they’re selling out. Also, PO has a strong Christian Democrat angle and is unlikely to seek partnership with an anti-church party.]


“Legislative Elections 2011.” Parties and Elections in Europe. 21 March 2012.  http://www.parties-and-elections.de/poland.html

“PO Deputy Defects Leaving Gov’t with Slim Majority”. The Warsaw Voice Online.  March 9 2012. http://www.warsawvoice.pl/WVpage/pages/article.php/20120/news

“PSL want three ministries in next coalition.” Polskie Radio. 10 October 2011. 19 March 2012. http://www.thenews.pl/1/12/Artykul/56577,PSL-want-three-ministries-in-next-coalition

Sobczyk, Marcin. “Polish Governing Camp’s Parliamentary Majority Shrinks.” Emerging Europe Online–Wall Street Journal. 9 March 2012. 20 March 2012. http://blogs.wsj.com/emergingeurope/2012/03/09/polish-governing-camps-parliamentary-majority-shrinks/


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