is a term commonly applied to the Polish Parliament
The Sejm is the lower house of the Polish parliament. The Sejm is made up of 460 deputies, or Poseł in Polish . It is elected by universal ballot and is presided over by a speaker called the Marshal of the Sejm ....
elected in the Polish parliamentary elections of 1989
The Polish legislative election of 1989 was the tenth election to the Sejm, the parliament of the People's Republic of Poland, and eleventh in Communist Poland...
. The contract
refers to an agreement reached by the Communist Party
The Polish United Workers' Party was the Communist party which governed the People's Republic of Poland from 1948 to 1989. Ideologically it was based on the theories of Marxism-Leninism.- The Party's Program and Goals :...
and the Solidarity (Solidarność in Polish) movement during the Polish Round Table Agreement
The Polish Round Table Talks took place in Warsaw, Poland from February 6 to April 4, 1989. The government initiated the discussion with the banned trade union Solidarność and other opposition groups in an attempt to defuse growing social unrest.-History:...
. The final agreement was signed on April 5, 1989. As a result, real political power was vested in a newly created bicameral legislature and in a president who would be the chief executive. Solidarność became a legitimate and legal political party.
Perhaps the most important decision reached during the talks was to allow for partially free elections to be held in Poland. All seats to the newly created Senate of Poland were to be elected democratically, as were 161 seats (35 percent of the total) in Sejm. The remaining 65% of the seats were reserved for the Communist Party and its satellite parties. In addition, all 35 seats elected via the country-wide list were reserved for the Party's candidates provided they gained a certain quota of support. This was to ensure that the most notable leaders of the Party were elected.
The outcome of the election was largely unpredictable. After all, Poland had not had a truly fair election since the 1920s, so there was little precedent to go by. It was clear that the Communists were unpopular, but there were no hard numbers as to how low support for them would actually fall. The Communist government still had control over most major media outlets and employed sports and television celebrities for candidates, as well as successful local personalities and businesspeople. Some members of the opposition were worried that such tactics would gain enough votes from the less educated segment of the population to give the Communists the legitimacy that they craved.
The election of June 4, 1989 (and the second round of June 18) brought a landslide victory to Solidarność: 99% of all the seats in the Senate and all of the possible seats in the Sejm. Out of 100 seats in the Senate, 99 were won by Solidarity and 1 by an independent candidate. Out of 35 seats of the country-wide list, only one was gained by the Party candidate (Adam Zieliński) and one by a ZSL satellite party candidate, while the remainder were taken by the Solidarity in the second run. Altogether, out of 161 seats eligible, Solidarity took 160.
The turnout was surprisingly low: only 62.7% in the first round and 25% in the second. The outcome was a major surprise to both the Party and Solidarity. Only a few days before June 4 the party Central Committee was discussing the possible reaction of the Western world should Solidarity not win a single seat. At the same time the Solidarity leaders were trying to prepare some set of rules for the non-party MPs in a Communist-dominated parliament, as it was expected that the Solidarity would win not more than 20 seats.
Although the elections were not entirely democratic, they paved the way for creation of Tadeusz Mazowiecki
Tadeusz Mazowiecki is a Polish author, journalist, philanthropist and Christian-democratic politician, formerly one of the leaders of the Solidarity movement, and the first non-communist prime minister in Central and Eastern Europe after World War II.-Biography:Mazowiecki comes from a Polish...
's cabinet and a peaceful transition to democracy, which was confirmed after the Polish parliamentary elections of 1991
The Polish parliamentary election in 1991 to the Sejm and the Senate of Poland was held on October 27. In the Sejm elections, 27,517,280 citizens were eligible to vote, 11,887,949 of them cast their votes, 11,218,602 of those were counted as valid. In the Senate elections, 43.2% of citizens cast...
The Contract Sejm's opening session took place on 5 July 1989