Desperate appeal from three former Presidents

Lech Wałęsa, Aleksander Kwaśniewski and Bronisław Komorowski, have signed an open letter appealing for opposition unity in the elections to the Senate

Three former Polish Presidents, together with well-known celebrities and academics on Sunday signed an open letter calling on the opposition to unite behind one candidate in each of the one-member constituencies in the elections to the Senate. Lech Wałęsa, Aleksander Kwaśniewski and Bronisław Komorowski have aimed their appeal at independent candidates who are standing outside of the non-aggression pact between the Civic Coalition (KO), the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) and the Polish People’s Party (PSL).

The Senate is Poland’s second chamber of Parliament, it has the power to amend legislation and initiate legislation. However, it is the Lower House, made up of 460 MPs elected by a proportional representation system in 41 multi-member constituencies which elects the government and has the final say over all legislation.

100 senators are elected in single-member constituencies on the basis of a first-past-the-post electoral system. Every one of the 100 seats is being contested by the ruling Law and Justice (PiS), and the opposition parties (KO,SLD, PSL) have formed a pact in which they have agreed for a single candidate from one of the parties to stand against the ruling party in each of the Senate constituencies.

In their appeal, the three former Presidents have said that the elections which are taking place on Sunday 13 October “ are not normal as they will decide whether Poland will retain democracy and the rule of law, or whether it will drift into authoritarian dictatorship. A democratic majority in the Senate could prove crucial”.

They appeal to all the candidates standing independently of the opposition non-aggression pact to “use all their energy, commitment and credibility in pursuit of a higher aim of helping the united opposition win.” They request the independents to stand down for the opposition unity candidates.

The three retired statesmen recall in their appeal historic moments such as the founding of Solidarity in 1980 and its victory in the partially free elections of 1989. “We need that kind of unity, and this is why we appeal to you to rise above your own desires which can only be realized in the conditions of full democracy.”

Lech Wałęsa who was President between 1990 and 1995 fell out with Jarosław Kaczyński, the PiS leader, in the early nineties and the two have been deadly political enemies every since. Aleksander Kawaśniewski was President between 1995 and 2005 and was elected on a SLD ticket. Bronnisław Komorowski was President between 2010 and 2015 and represented the Civic Platform (PO) which now heads the Civic Coalition (KO).