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Government (239)

     Law and Justice
Law and Justice
(238)      Independents (1)[a]

Confidence and supply (8)

     Free and Solidary
Free and Solidary
(6)      Independents (2)[1]

Opposition (213)

     Civic Platform
Civic Platform
(136)      Kukiz'15
Kukiz'15
(29)      .Modern (25)      PSL-UED group (18)

     Polish People's Party
Polish People's Party
(14)      Union of European Democrats
Union of European Democrats
(4)

     Independents (5)[2]

Elections

Voting system

Open-list proportional representation in 41 constituencies (5% national election thresholda)

Last election

October 2015

Next election

Not later than November 2019

Meeting place

The Sejm
Sejm
Building Śródmieście, Warsaw

Website

sejm.gov.pl

Footnotes

a 8% for coalitions.

The Sejm
Sejm
of the Republic of Poland
Poland
([sɛjm] ( listen); Polish: Sejm
Sejm
Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej) is the lower house of the Polish parliament. It consists of 460 deputies (posłowie, literally "envoys", in Polish) elected by universal ballot and is presided over by a speaker called the " Marshal of the Sejm
Marshal of the Sejm
of the Republic of Poland" (Marszałek Sejmu Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej). In the Kingdom of Poland, "Sejm" referred to the entire three-chamber parliament of Poland, comprising the lower house (the Chamber of Envoys; Polish: Izba Poselska), the upper house (the Senate; Polish: Senat) and the King. It was thus a three-estate parliament. Since the Second Polish Republic (1918–1939), "Sejm" has referred only to the lower house of the parliament; the upper house is called the Senat Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej ("Senate of the Republic of Poland").

Contents

1 History

1.1 Kingdom of Poland 1.2 Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth 1.3 Partitions

1.3.1 Congress Poland 1.3.2 Germany and Austria-Hungary

1.4 Second Republic 1.5 Polish People's Republic 1.6 Today

2 Standing committees 3 Most recent election 4 See also

4.1 Types of sejm 4.2 Notable sejms

5 References 6 External links

History[edit] Kingdom of Poland[edit] Main article: Sejm
Sejm
of the Kingdom of Poland

A wiec (King's Council) in the time of King Casimir III of Poland, 14th century

"Sejm" stems from an Old Slavic word meaning "gathering". Its origin was the King's Councils (wiece), which gained power during the time of Poland's fragmentation (1146–1295). The 1182 Sejm
Sejm
in Łęczyca (known as the 'First Sejm') was the most notable of these councils, in that for the first time in Poland's history it established laws constraining the power of the ruler. It forbade arbitrary sequestration of supplies in the countryside and takeover of bishopric lands after the death of a bishop. These early Sejms were not a regular event, they convened at the King's behest. After the 1493 Sejm in Piotrków, it became a regularly convening body, to which indirect elections were held every two years. The bicameral system was also established there. The Sejm
Sejm
now comprised two chambers: the Senat (Senate) of 81 bishops and other dignitaries; and the Chamber of Envoys, made up of 54 envoys elected by smaller local sejmik (assemblies of landed nobility) in each of the Kingdom's provinces. At the time, Poland's nobility, which accounted for around 10% of the state's population (then the highest amount in Europe), was becoming particularly influential, and with the eventual development of the Golden Liberty, the Sejm's powers increased dramatically.[3] Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth[edit] Main article: Sejm
Sejm
of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth

In 1791, the "Great Sejm" or Four-Year Sejm
Four-Year Sejm
of 1788–1792 and Senate adopted the May 3rd Constitution
May 3rd Constitution
at the Royal Castle in Warsaw

Over time, the envoys in the lower chamber grew in number and power as they pressed the king for more privileges. The Sejm
Sejm
eventually became even more active in supporting the goals of the privileged classes when the King ordered that the landed nobility and their estates (peasants) be drafted into military service. After the Union of Lublin in 1569, the Kingdom of Poland
Poland
became, through personal union with the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, and thus the Sejm
Sejm
was supplemented with new envoys from among the Lithuanian nobility. This "Commonwealth of Both Nations" ensured that the state of affairs surrounding the three-estates system continued, with the Sejm, Senate and King forming the estates and supreme deliberating body of the state. In the first few decades of the 16th century, the Senate had established its precedence over the Sejm; however, from the mid-1500s onwards, the Sejm
Sejm
became a very powerful representative body of the Szlachta
Szlachta
("middle nobility"). Its chambers reserved the final decisions in legislation, taxation, budget, and treasury matters (including military funding), foreign policy, and the confirment of nobility. The 1573 Warsaw Confederation
Warsaw Confederation
saw the nobles of the Sejm officially sanction and guarantee religious tolerance in Commonwealth territory, ensuring a refuge for those fleeing the ongoing Reformation and Counter-Reformation
Counter-Reformation
wars in Europe. Until the end of the 16th century, unanimity was not required, and the majority-voting process was the most commonly used system for voting. Later, with the rise of the Polish magnates and their increasing power, the unanimity principle was re-introduced with the institution of the nobility's right of liberum veto (Latin: "I freely forbid"). Additionally, if the envoys were unable to reach a unanimous decision within six weeks (the time limit of a single session), deliberations were declared void and all previous acts passed by that Sejm
Sejm
were annulled. From the mid-17th century onward, any objection to a Sejm
Sejm
resolution, by either an envoy or a senator, automatically caused the rejection of other, previously approved resolutions. This was because all resolutions passed by a given session of the Sejm
Sejm
formed a whole resolution, and, as such, was published as the annual "constituent act" of the Sejm, e.g. the "Anno Domini 1667" act. In the 16th century, no single person or small group dared to hold up proceedings, but, from the second half of the 17th century, the liberum veto was used to virtually paralyze the Sejm, and brought the Commonwealth to the brink of collapse. The liberum veto was finally abolished with the adoption of Poland's 3rd May Constitution in 1791, a piece of legislation which was passed as the "Government Act", and for which the Sejm
Sejm
required four years to propagate and adopt. The constitution's acceptance, and the possible long-term consequences it may have had, is arguably the reason for which the powers of Austria-Hungary, Russia and Prussia
Prussia
then decided to partition the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, thus putting an end to over 300 years of Polish parliamentary continuity. It is estimated that between 1493 and 1793, a Sejm
Sejm
was held 240 times, the total debate-time sum of which was 44 years.[4]

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v t e

Partitions[edit] After the fall of the Duchy of Warsaw, which existed as a Napoleonic client state between 1807 and 1815, and its short-lived Sejm
Sejm
of the Duchy of Warsaw, the Sejm
Sejm
of Congress Poland
Poland
was established in the Kongresówka (Congress Poland) of Russia; it was composed of the king (the Russian emperor), the upper house (Senate), and the lower house (Chamber of Envoys). Overall, during the period from 1795 until the re-establishment of Poland's sovereignty in 1918, little power was actually held by any Polish legislative body and the occupying powers of Russia, Prussia
Prussia
(later united Germany) and Austria-Hungary propagated legislation for their own respective formerly-Polish territories at a national level.[4] Congress Poland[edit]

Tadeusz Rejtan tries to prevent the legalisation of the first partition of Poland
Poland
by preventing the members of the Sejm
Sejm
from leaving the chamber (1773). Painting by Jan Matejko

Main article: Sejm
Sejm
of Congress Poland The Chamber of Envoys, despite its name, consisted not only of 77 envoys (sent by local assemblies) from the hereditary nobility, but also of 51 deputies, elected by the non-noble population. All deputies were covered by Parliamentary immunity, with each individual serving for a term of office of six years, with half of the deputies being elected every two years. Candidates for deputy had to be able to read and write, and have a certain amount of wealth. The legal voting age was 21, except for those citizens serving in the military, the personnel of which were not allowed to vote. Parliamentary sessions were initially convened every two years, and lasted for (at least) 30 days. However, after many clashes between liberal deputies and conservative government officials, sessions were later called only four times (1818, 1820, 1826, and 1830, with the last two sessions being secret). The Sejm
Sejm
had the right to call for votes on civil and administrative legal issues, and, with permission from the king, it could also vote on matters related to the fiscal policy and the military. It had the right to exercise control over government officials, and to file petitions. The 64-member Senate on the other hand, was composed of voivodes and kasztelans (both types of provincial governors), Russian "princes of the blood", and nine bishops. It acted as the Parliamentary Court, had the right to control "citizens' books", and had similar legislative rights as did the Chamber of Deputies.[4] Germany and Austria-Hungary[edit] In the Free City of Cracow
Free City of Cracow
(1815–1846), a unicameral Assembly of Representatives was established, and from 1827, a unicameral provincial sejm existed in the Grand Duchy of Poznań. Poles were elected to and represented the majority in both of these legislatures; however, they were largely powerless institutions and exercised only very limited power. After numerous failures in securing legislative sovereignty in the early 19th century, many Poles simply gave up trying to attain a degree of independence from their foreign master-states. In the Austrian partition, a relatively powerless Sejm of the Estates operated until the time of the Spring of Nations. After this, in the mid to late 19th century, only in autonomous Galicia (1861–1914) was there a unicameral and functional National Sejm, the Sejm
Sejm
of the Land. It is recognised today as having played a major and overwhelming positive role in the development of Polish national institutions. In the second half of the 19th century, Poles were able to become members of the parliaments of Austria, Prussia
Prussia
and Russia, where they formed Polish Clubs. Deputies of Polish nationality were elected to the Prussian Landtag from 1848, and then to the German Empire's Reichstag from 1871. Polish Deputies were members of the Austrian State Council (from 1867), and from 1906 were also elected to the Russian Imperial State Duma
State Duma
(lower chamber) and to the State Council (upper chamber).[4] Second Republic[edit]

Stanisław Dubois
Stanisław Dubois
speaking to envoys and diplomats in the Sejm, 1931

After the First World War
First World War
and re-establishment of Polish independence, the convocation of parliament, under the democratic electoral law of 1918, became an enduring symbol of the new state's wish to demonstrate and establish continuity with the 300-year Polish parliamentary traditions established before the time of the partitions. Maciej Rataj emphatically paid tribute to this with the phrase: "There is Poland there, and so is the Sejm". During the interwar period of Poland's independence, the first Legislative Sejm
Sejm
of 1919, a Constituent Assembly, passed the Small Constitution of 1919, which introduced a parliamentary republic and proclaimed the principle of the Sejm's sovereignty. This was then strengthened, in 1921, by the March Constitution, one of the most democratic European constitutions enacted after the end of World War I. The constitution established a political system which was based on Montesquieu's doctrine of separation of powers, and which restored the bicameral Sejm
Sejm
consisting of a lower house (to which alone the name of "Sejm" was from then on applied) and an upper house, the Senate. In 1919, Roza Pomerantz-Meltzer, a member of the Zionist party, became the first woman ever elected to the Sejm.[5][6] The legal content of the March Constitution allowed for Sejm
Sejm
supremacy in the system of state institutions at the expense of the executive powers, thus creating a parliamentary republic out of the Polish state. An attempt to strengthen executive powers in 1926 (through the August Amendment) proved too limited and largely failed in helping avoid legislative grid-lock which had ensued as a result of too-great parliamentary power in a state which had numerous diametrically-opposed political parties sitting in its legislature. In 1935, the parliamentary republic was weakened further when, by way of, Józef Piłsudski's May Coup, the president was forced to sign the April Constitution of 1935, an act through which the head of state assumed the dominant position in legislating for the state and the Senate increased its power at the expense of the Sejm.

Józef Beck, Minister of Foreign Affairs, delivers his famous Honour Speech in the Sejm, 5 May 1939.

On 2 September 1939, the Sejm
Sejm
held its final pre-war session, during which it declared Poland's readiness to defend itself against invading German forces. On 2 November 1939, the President dissolved the Sejm and the Senate, which were then, according to plan, to resume their activity within two months after the end of the Second World War; this, however, never happened. During wartime, the National Council (1939–1945) was established to represent the legislature as part of the Polish Government in Exile. Meanwhile, in Nazi-occupied Poland, the Council of National Unity
Council of National Unity
was set up; this body functioned from 1944 to 1945 as the parliament of the Polish Underground State. With the cessation of hostilities in 1945, and subsequent rise to power of the Communist-backed Provisional Government of National Unity, the Second Polish Republic
Second Polish Republic
legally ceased to exist.[4] Polish People's Republic[edit] The Sejm
Sejm
in the Polish People's Republic
Polish People's Republic
had 460 deputies throughout most of its history. At first, this number was declared to represent one deputy per 60,000 citizens (425 were elected in 1952), but, in 1960, as the population grew, the declaration was changed: The constitution then stated that the deputies were representative of the people and could be recalled by the people, but this article was never used, and, instead of the "five-point electoral law", a non-proportional, "four-point" version was used. Legislation was passed with majority voting. Under the 1952 Constitution, the Sejm
Sejm
was defined as "the highest organ of State authority" in Poland, as well as "the highest spokesman of the will of the people in town and country." On paper, it was vested with great lawmaking and oversight powers. For instance, it was empowered with control over "the functioning of other organs of State authority and administration," and ministers were required to answer questions posed by deputies within seven days.[7] In practice, it did little more than rubber-stamp decisions already made by the Communist Polish United Workers Party
Polish United Workers Party
and its executive bodies.[8] This was standard practice in nearly all Communist regimes due to the principle of democratic centralism. The Sejm
Sejm
voted on the budget and on the periodic national plans that were a fixture of communist economies. The Sejm
Sejm
deliberated in sessions that were ordered to convene by the State Council. The Sejm
Sejm
also chose a Prezydium ("presiding body") from among its members; the marshall of which was always a member of the United People's Party. In its preliminary session, the Sejm
Sejm
also nominated the Prime Minister, the Council of Ministers of Poland, and members of the State Council. It also chose many other government officials, including the head of the Supreme Chamber of Control and members of the State Tribunal and the Constitutional Tribunal, as well as the Ombudsman (the last three bodies of which were created in the 1980s). When the Sejm
Sejm
was not in session, the State Council had the power to issue decrees that had the force of law. However, those decrees had to be approved by the Sejm
Sejm
at its next session.[7] The Senate of Poland
Poland
was abolished by the Polish people's referendum in 1946, after which the Sejm
Sejm
became the sole legislative body in Poland.[4] Even though the Sejm
Sejm
was largely subservient to the Communist party, one brave deputy, Romuald Bukowski (an independent) voted against the imposition of martial law in 1982.[9] Today[edit] After the end of communism in 1989, the Senate was reinstated as the upper house of a bicameral national assembly, while the Sejm
Sejm
became the lower house. The Sejm
Sejm
is now composed of 460 deputies elected by proportional representation every four years. Between 7 and 19 deputies are elected from each constituency using the d'Hondt method (with one exception, in 2001, when the Sainte-Laguë method was used), their number being proportional to their constituency's population. Additionally, a threshold is used, so that candidates are chosen only from parties that gained at least 5% of the nationwide vote (candidates from ethnic-minority parties are exempt from this threshold).[4]

The Sejm
Sejm
building in Warsaw

The Sejm's main hall

Sessions chamber in the Sejm

Sessions chamber viewed from the rostrum

Sejm
Sejm
cross

Column hall in the Sejm

Standing committees[edit]

Administration and Internal Affairs Agriculture and Rural Development Liaison with Poles Abroad Constitutional Accountability Culture and Media Deputies' Ethics Economic Committee Education, Science and Youth Enterprise Development Environment Protection, Natural Resources and Forestry European Union Affairs Family and Women Rights Foreign Affairs Health Infrastructure Justice and Human Rights Legislative Local Self-Government and Regional Policy National and Ethnic Minorities National Defence Physical Education and Sport Public Finances Rules and Deputies' Affairs Social Policy Special
Special
Services State Control State Treasury Work

Most recent election[edit]

e • d Summary of the 25 October 2015 Polish parliamentary election results[10]

Parties Sejm Senate

Votes % ±% Seats ± Seats ±

Law and Justice
Law and Justice
(Prawo i Sprawiedliwość, PiS) 5,711,687 37.58 7.69

235 / 460

78

61 / 100

30

Civic Platform
Civic Platform
(Platforma Obywatelska, PO) 3,661,474 24.09 15.09

138 / 460

69

34 / 100

34

Kukiz'15
Kukiz'15
(K'15) 1,339,094 8.81

42 / 460

42 —

Modern (Nowoczesna, .N) 1,155,370 7.60

28 / 460

28 —

United Left (Zjednoczona Lewica, ZL) 1,147,102 7.55 11.26 —[b] 67 —

Polish People's Party
Polish People's Party
(Polskie Stronnictwo Ludowe, PSL) 779,875 5.13 3.23

16 / 460

12

1 / 100

1

KORWiN 722,999 4.76

Together (Partia Razem) 550,349 3.62

Regional committees

Committee of Zbigniew Stonoga (KWW ZS) 42,731 0.28

German Minority (Mniejszość Niemiecka, MN) 27,530 0.18 0.01

1 / 460

United for Silesia (Zjednoczeni dla Śląska, ZdŚ) 18,668 0.12

JOW Bezpartyjni 15,656 0.10

Committee of Grzegorz Braun "God Bless You!" (Szczęść Boże!) 13,113 0.09

Congress of the New Right
Congress of the New Right
(Kongres Nowej Prawicy, KNP) 4,852 0.03 1.03 —

Self-Defence (Samoobrona) 4,266 0.03 0.04 —

Social Movement of the Republic of Poland
Poland
(Ruch Społeczny) 3,941 0.03

Citizens to Parliament (Obywatele do Parlamentu, OdP) 1,964 0.01

Independents (Niezależni) N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A

4 / 100

Total 15,200,671 100

460 100

Notes

^ Magdalena Błeńska, while not part of the Law and Justice parliamentary club, is a member of the Alliance which is part of the Morawiecki government and contests elections jointly with Law and Justice. ^ United Left was running as a coalition, therefore was subject to an 8% election threshold rather than 5% for single parties.

See also[edit]

Electoral districts of Poland
Electoral districts of Poland
(1935 - 1939) Polish constitutional crisis, 2015

Types of sejm[edit]

Confederated sejm ( Sejm
Sejm
skonfederowany) Convocation sejm
Convocation sejm
( Sejm
Sejm
konwokacyjny) Coronation sejm
Coronation sejm
( Sejm
Sejm
koronacyjny) Election sejm ( Sejm
Sejm
elekcyjny) National Assembly of the Republic of Poland
Poland
(Zgromadzenie Narodowe) Sejmik

Voivodship sejmik
Voivodship sejmik
( Sejmik
Sejmik
wojewódzki)

Notable sejms[edit]

Silent Sejm
Silent Sejm
( Sejm
Sejm
Niemy 1717) Convocation Sejm (1764) ( Sejm
Sejm
konwokacyjny) Repnin Sejm
Repnin Sejm
( Sejm
Sejm
Repninowski 1767–1768) Partition Sejm
Partition Sejm
( Sejm
Sejm
rozbiorowy 1773–1776) Great Sejm
Great Sejm
( Sejm
Sejm
Wielki 1788–1792) Grodno Sejm
Grodno Sejm
( Sejm
Sejm
grodzieński 1791) Silesian Sejm
Silesian Sejm
( Sejm
Sejm
Śląski 1920–1939) Contract Sejm
Contract Sejm
( Sejm
Sejm
Kontraktowy 1989)

References[edit]

^ "Wotum zaufania" (in Polish).  ^ "Kluby i koła" (in Polish).  ^ "Poznaj Sejm". Sejm. Retrieved 16 June 2013.  ^ a b c d e f g "Poznaj Sejm". Opis.sejm.gov.pl. Retrieved 16 June 2013.  ^ Davies, Norman (1982). God's Playground: A History of Poland. Columbia University Press. p. 302.  ^ Strauss, Herbert Arthur (1993). Hostages of Modernization: Studies on Modern Antisemitism, 1870-1933/39. Walter de Gruyter. p. 985.  ^ a b Chapter 3 of 1952 Constitution ^ Poland: a country study. Library of Congress
Library of Congress
Federal Research Division, December 1989. ^ https://www.nytimes.com/1992/10/22/obituaries/romuald-bukowski-polish-legislator-64.html ^ "KOMUNIKAT PAŃSTWOWEJ KOMISJI WYBORCZEJ z dnia 26 października 2015 r. o zbiorczych wynikach głosowania na listy kandydatów na posłów w skali kraju" (PDF) (in Polish). pkw.gov.pl. October 26, 2015. Retrieved October 27, 2015. 

External links[edit]

Official website Description of the modern Sejm's role in the Polish political system CNN Election Watch

v t e

Sejms of Poland

Kingdom of Poland (1385–1569)

Sejm
Sejm
of the Kingdom of Poland

Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth (1569–1795)

Only a limited number of individual sejms of this era is listed here

Silent Sejm
Silent Sejm
(1717) Pacification Sejm
Sejm
(1736) Convocation Sejm
Sejm
(1764) Repnin Sejm
Repnin Sejm
(1767–68) Partition Sejm
Partition Sejm
(1773–75) Great Sejm
Great Sejm
(1788–91) Grodno Sejm
Grodno Sejm
(1793)

 

Partitioned Poland (1795–1918)

Sejm
Sejm
of the Duchy of Warsaw
Duchy of Warsaw
(1809–12) Sejm
Sejm
of Congress Poland
Poland
(1815–31) Sejm of the Grand Duchy of Posen (1823–1918) Sejm of the Estates
Sejm of the Estates
(1775–1845) Sejm of the Land
Sejm of the Land
(1861–1918)

Second Polish Republic (1918–39)

Legislative Sejm
Sejm
(1919–22) First Term Sejm
Sejm
(1922–27) Second Term Sejm
Sejm
(1928–30) Third Term Sejm
Sejm
(1930–35) Fourth Term Sejm
Sejm
(1935–38) Fifth Term Sejm
Sejm
(1938–39)

Polish Underground State (1939–45)

Home Political Representation
Home Political Representation
(1943–44) Council of National Unity
Council of National Unity
(1944–45)

People's Republic of Poland (1945–89)

State National Council
State National Council
(1943–47) Legislative Sejm
Sejm
(1947–52) First Term Sejm
Sejm
(1952–56) Second Term Sejm
Sejm
(1957–61) Third Term Sejm
Sejm
(1961–65) Fourth Term Sejm
Sejm
(1965–69) Fifth Term Sejm
Sejm
(1969–72) Sixth Term Sejm
Sejm
(1972–76) Seventh Term Sejm
Sejm
(1976–80) Eight Term Sejm
Sejm
(1980–85) Ninth Term Sejm
Sejm
(1985–89) Tenth Term (Contract) Sejm
Sejm
(1989)

Republic of Poland (since 1990)

First Term Sejm
Sejm
(1991–93) Second Term Sejm
Sejm
(1993–97) Third Term Sejm
Sejm
(1997–2001) Fourth Term Sejm
Sejm
(2001–05) Fifth Term Sejm
Sejm
(2005–07) Sixth Term Sejm
Sejm
(2007–11) Seventh Term Sejm
Sejm
(2011–15) Eighth Term Sejm
Sejm
(2015–19)

See also Sejmik

v t e

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