Democratic Left Alliance

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Democratic Left Alliance
Sojusz Lewicy Democraktycznej
Leader Włodzimierz Czarzasty
Founder Aleksander Kwaśniewski
Founded1991 (as a coalition)
15 April 1999 (as a party)
Dissolved27 January 2020 (2020-01-27)
Merger of SdRP, minor parties (1991)
Merged into New Left
Headquartersul. Złota 9 Warsaw
Youth wing Social Democratic Youth Federation
Membership (2018)Increase2.svg 33,554 [1]
Ideology Social democracy
Pro-Europeanism [2]
Atlanticism [3] [4] [5]
Political position Centre-left [6]
National affiliation The Left [a]
European affiliation Party of European Socialists
International affiliation Progressive Alliance
European Parliament group Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats
Colours Red

^  a: Previously SLD-UP (2001–14), Left and Democrats (2006–08), United Left (2015) and the European Coalition (2019).

The Democratic Left Alliance (Polish : Sojusz Lewicy Demokratycznej) was a social-democratic [7] [8] [9] 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 was the major coalition party in Poland between 1993 and 1997, and between 2001 and 2005, from which came two Prime ministers, Aleksander Kwaśniewski and Leszek Miller. It then faded into opposition, shadowed by the rise of Civic Platform and Law and Justice.


In February 2020, the party initiated a process to absorb the Spring party, choosing the name New Left (Polish : Nowa Lewica), and changing to a more modern logo.

The party was a member of the Party of European Socialists and Progressive Alliance.


Ideology and support patterns

The party can be classified as centre-left. However, during the 1990s, it managed to attract voters from the pro-market and even right-wing camp. [10] The main support for SLD came from middle-rank state sector employees, retired people, former communist Polish United Workers Party (PZPR) and All-Poland Alliance of Trade Unions (OPZZ)[ clarification needed ] members and those who were unlikely to be frequent church-goers. [11] 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 the introduction of religious education into school. [12] The ex-communists 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 PZPR. An alliance between the SLD and the Polish People's Party (PSL) ruled Poland in the years 1993–1997. 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.

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 false accusations of links to the KGB.

Opposition: 2005 and after

The 2004 European elections foreshadowed the SLD's huge defeat in the 2005 parliamentary election, in which it won only 11.3% of the vote. This gave the party 55 seats, barely a quarter of what it had had prior to the election. It 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 an SLD leader.

In the 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.

In the 2011 parliamentary election, SLD received 8.24% of the vote which gave it 27 seats in the Sejm. [13] After the elections, one of the party members, Sławomir Kopyciński, decided to leave SLD and join Palikot's Movement. [14] 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 formed the United Left electoral alliance along with Your Movement (TR), Labour United (UP) and The Greens (PZ) and minor parties to contest the upcoming election. [15] [16]

In the 2015 parliamentary election held on 25 October 2015, the United Left list received 7.6% of the vote, [17] below the 8% threshold (electoral alliances must win at least 8% of the vote, as opposed to the 5% for individual parties), [18] leaving the SLD without parliamentary representation for the first time. Indeed, for the first time since the end of Communism, no centre-left parties won any seats in this election. [19]

In 2017, the party withdrew from the Socialist International, while maintaining ties with the Progressive Alliance.[ citation needed ]

For the 2019 parliamentary election SLD formed an alliance with Razem and Wiosna, known as The Left. [20] In the 2019 parliamentary election, the alliance won 12.6% of the vote and 49 seats in the Sejm, with the SLD winning 24. Later, it was announced that the Democratic Left Alliance would form with the Spring new political party called the New Left. The creation was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. [21]

Voter base

The SLD is usually seen as the face of the standard Polish left, having achieved notable electoral success during the 90s and benefitting from a strongly organized network of local offices, which span 320 of Poland's 380 administrative counties. For this reason, it was often viewed as the go-to party for left-leaning Poles for the majority of Poland's modern history. [22] [23] The party's monopoly on mainstream left-wing economic ideas in Poland however ended, after the right-wing PiS party adopted many economically interventionist positions, which led a considerable portion of economically left-wing Poles to vote for PiS instead. [24] [25]

Besides self-described left-wingers, the party enjoys the support of many members of the country's police and military, but its largest voting bloc resides among former PZPR members, government officials and civil servants during the PPR period, which are seen as the party's core supporters. The loyal support of this voting bloc enabled the SLD to remain the largest party of the Polish left, even throughout the scandals that rocked the party in the early 2000s. [23] [26] [27]

However, this electoral bloc was seen as unreliable by political observers[ citation needed ], as despite the fact that it originally constituted a huge voting bloc, that segment of the population would inevitably shrink as its members steadily age[ citation needed ]. Following the passage of a "degradation law" by the ruling right-wing PiS party, which cut pensions and disability benefits to thousands of former bureaucrats, however, the party has undergone a revival, as more and more people's primary income came to be threatened by the new government policy. This led many of those affected to support the SLD, thus enlarging and mobilizing the formerly shrinking voting bloc. [23] [26] [28]

The SLD nonetheless made a significant effort to broaden its political appeal by joining forces with two smaller left-wing parties in 2019, creating The Left political alliance, which poses itself as a 'modern' take on leftism. [29] [30]

Election results


Election yearLeader# of
 % of
# of
overall seats won
1991 Aleksander Kwaśniewski 1,344,82012.0 (#2)
60 / 460
Decrease2.svg 113Opposition
1993 2,815,16920.4 (#1)
171 / 460
Increase2.svg 111Coalition
1997 Włodzimierz Cimoszewicz 3,551,22427.1 (#2)
164 / 460
Decrease2.svg 6Opposition
2001 Leszek Miller 5,342,51941.0 (#1)
200 / 460
Increase2.svg 32Coalition
As part of the SLD-UP coalition, which won 216 seats in total.
2005 Wojciech Olejniczak 1,335,25711.3 (#4)
55 / 460
Decrease2.svg 145Opposition
2007 2,122,98113.2 (#3)
40 / 460
Decrease2.svg 15Opposition
As part of the Left and Democrats coalition, which won 53 seats in total.
2011 Grzegorz Napieralski 1,184,3038.2 (#5)
27 / 460
Decrease2.svg 13Opposition
2015 Leszek Miller 1,147,1027.6 (#5)
0 / 460
Decrease2.svg 27Extra-parliamentary
As part of the United Left coalition, which did not win any seats.
2019 Włodzimierz Czarzasty 2,319,94612.6 (#3)
24 / 460
Increase2.svg 24Opposition
As part of The Left coalition, which won 49 seats in total.


Election year# of votes % of vote# of
overall seats won
1991 2,431,17821.2
4 / 100
Increase2.svg 4
1993 4,993,06135.7
37 / 100
Increase2.svg 33
1997 6,091,72145.7
28 / 100
Decrease2.svg 9
2001 10,476,67738.7
70 / 100
Increase2.svg 42
As part of the SLD-UP coalition, which won 75 seats in total.
2005 3,114,11812.9
0 / 100
Decrease2.svg 70
2007 4,751,28114.6
0 / 100
As part of the Left and Democrats coalition, which did not win any seats.
2011 1,307,5479.0
0 / 100
2015 595,2064.0
0 / 100
As part of the United Left coalition, which did not win any seats.
2019 415,7452.3
0 / 100
As part of The Left coalition, which won 2 seats in total.


Election yearCandidate1st round2nd round
# of overall votes % of overall vote# of overall votes % of overall vote
1990 Supported Włodzimierz Cimoszewicz 1,514,0259.2 (#4)
1995 Aleksander Kwaśniewski 6,275,67035.1 (#1)9,704,43951.7 (#1)
2000 Supported Aleksander Kwaśniewski 9,485,22453.9 (#1)
2005 Supported Marek Borowski 1,544,64210.3% (#4)
2010 Grzegorz Napieralski 2,299,87013.7 (#3)
2015 Supported Magdalena Ogórek 353,8832.4 (#5)
2020 Supported Robert Biedroń 432,1292.2 (#6)

European Parliament

Election year# of
 % of
# of
overall seats won
2004 569,3119.4 (#5)
5 / 54
Increase2.svg 5
2009 908,76512.3 (#3)
7 / 50
Increase2.svg 2
2014 667,3199.4 (#3)
5 / 51
Decrease2.svg 2
2019 5 249 93538,47 (#2)
5 / 51
As part of the European Coalition, which won 22 seats in total.

Regional assemblies

Election year % of
# of
overall seats won
1998 31.8 (#2)
329 / 855
2002 24.7 (#1)
189 / 561
2006 14.3 (#3)
66 / 561
Decrease2.svg 123
As part of the Left and Democrats coalition.
2010 15.2 (#4)
85 / 561
Increase2.svg 19
2014 8.8 (#4)
28 / 555
Decrease2.svg 57
2018 6.7 (#4)
11 / 552
Decrease2.svg 17

Presidents and Prime Ministers

Presidents of the Republic of Poland from SLD

Aleksander Kwaśniewski Aleksander kwasniewski konferencja (cropped).jpg 23 December 199523 December 2005

Prime Ministers of the Republic of Poland from SLD

Józef Oleksy JKRUK 20090524 JOZEF OLEKSY BUSKO IMG 7314.jpg 7 March 19957 February 1996
Włodzimierz Cimoszewicz Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz Kancelaria Senatu.jpg 7 February 199631 October 1997
Leszek Miller Leszek Miller Sejm 2013.JPG 19 October 20012 May 2004
Marek Belka Marek Belka NBP.jpg 2 May 200431 October 2005

See also

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