Wednesday, October 18, 2023

The 2023 Polish Election

Sunday's Parliamentary Election in Poland saw the far-right PIS party win the most seats (194 seats) in the new parliament. However the opposition parties, consisting of the Civic Coalition (157 seats), Third Way (65 seats), and The Left (26 seats) achieved a combined share of 54% of the vote and are expected to now form a coalition government.

Thanks to the growing trend among newspapers to hide their work behind paywalls I haven't managed to find any interactive maps of the 2023 Polish Parliamentary Election. However Wikipedia has published a static map (above) showing a breakdown of the seats won by each party in each constituency. Each constituency is colored based on the vote share of the largest party in each constituency.

It has become customary after elections in Poland to compare the results with a map of the pre-1918 imperial borders.

As ever in the most recent Polish election we can observe a geographical split in results which seems to align with how Poland was divided in the 18th century. In August, 1772, Russia, Prussia, and Austria signed a treaty that partitioned Poland. Poland only regained its independence as the Second Polish Republic in 1918 after World War I. However, although the borders that divided Poland during the 18th and 19th Centuries disappeared over 100 years ago, that geographical divide seems to re-emerge in every Polish election.

The 2023 Polish Parliamentary Election appears to be no exception. On the Wikipedia map of the results we can see that the right-wing PIS party appears to have dominated in the eastern (pre-1918 Russian) part of Poland, while PO is the most popular party in the western (pre-1918 Prussian) areas of the country.

This split in voting patterns along the lines of the old Imperial borders has been observed in other Polish elections. Back in 2013 Irena Grosfeld and Ekaterina Zhuravskaya wrote about how the spatial pattern in the 2007 election in Poland was "determined, to a large extent, by the Partitions of Poland (1772-1918)". In The Past in the Polish Present the two professors argue that the very different economic and social policies which were followed by Russia, Prussia, and Austria in Poland for over a century have had a persistent legacy in Poland. This legacy appears to have emerged once again in this week's Polish parliamentary election.
Number of Villages per 100km2

In this Reddit thread comparing the 2023 Polish Parliamentary Election Results and the 1914 Imperial Borders user kolosmenus proposes that this geographical pattern in voting is mainly caused by urbanization. S/he argues that during the partition of Poland the Prussian areas were heavily urbanized while the other two partitioned states remained mostly rural. S/he links to the above map showing the Number of Villages per 100km2.

This correlation between urbanization and political support seems to make sense. We know from other western countries (including the US and the UK) that election results are often affected by the economic and cultural effects of rural and urban demographics. More affluent urban constituencies often tend to vote for more liberal and left-wing politicians, while less affluent rural constituencies often seem to vote for the more right-wing candidates and political parties.

1 comment:

antin said...

Note that the situation in western Poland is even more curious - the Polish don't tell this and Germans have forgotten: The parts belonging to Germany as of 1937 were almost completely German settled and had NOT been subject of the Polish divisions. These 8M+ people were driven out of their homes after defeat of Nazi Germany. The grandparents of the Polish living there now have moved there post 1945 to an initially foreign land. There can hence be no direct effect of German policy now - any effect is somehow mediated by that a society completely reformed after 1945 while using the settlement infrastructure and economic resources built by the previous German population.