A report on Sejm and Polish People's Republic

The first Sejm in Łęczyca. Recording of laws. A.D. 1180
In 1791, the "Great Sejm" or Four-Year Sejm of 1788–1792 and Senate adopted the May 3rd Constitution at the Royal Castle in Warsaw
The Polish People's Republic in 1989
Tadeusz Rejtan tries to prevent the legalisation of the first partition of Poland by preventing the members of the Sejm from leaving the chamber (1773). Painting by Jan Matejko
Poland's fate was heavily discussed at the Yalta Conference in February 1945. Joseph Stalin, whose Red Army occupied the entire country, presented several alternatives which granted Poland industrialized territories in the west whilst the Red Army simultaneously permanently annexed Polish territories in the east, resulting in Poland losing over 20% of its pre-war borders - areas primarily inhabited by ethnic Belarusians or Ukrainians. Soviet-backed Polish communists came to power and oversaw the country's entry into the Warsaw Pact in 1955.
Stanisław Dubois speaking to envoys and diplomats in the Sejm, 1931
Border changes of Poland after World War II. The eastern territories (Kresy) were annexed by the Soviets. The western territories, referred to as the "Recovered Territories", were granted as war reparations. Despite the western lands being more industrialized, Poland lost 77,035 km2 (29,743 sq mi) and major cities like Lviv and Vilnius.
Józef Beck, Minister of Foreign Affairs, delivers his famous Honour Speech in the Sejm, 5 May 1939.
The 1970 Polish protests were put down by the Communist authorities and Citizens' Militia. The riots resulted in the deaths of 42 people and over 1,000 injured.
The Sejm building in Warsaw
Queues waiting to enter grocery stores in Warsaw and other Polish cities and towns were typical in the late 1980s. The availability of food and goods varied at times, and the most sought after basic item was toilet paper.
The Sejm's main hall
The new Warszawa Centralna railway station in Warsaw had automatic doors and escalators. It was a flagship project during the 1970s economic boom and was dubbed the most modern station in Europe at the time of its completion in 1975.
Sessions chamber in the Sejm
Lech Wałęsa co-founded and headed the Solidarity movement which toppled Communism. He later became the President of Poland.
Sessions chamber viewed from the rostrum
The 1980 Gdańsk Shipyard Strike and subsequent Summer 1981 Hunger Demonstrations were instrumental in strengthening the Solidarity movement's influence.
Sejm cross
Logo of the Polish United Workers' Party
Column hall in the Sejm
Władysław Gomułka and Leonid Brezhnev in East Berlin, 1967
An abandoned State Agricultural Farm in south-eastern Poland. State farms were a form of collective farming created in 1949.
Łódź was Poland's largest city after the destruction of Warsaw during World War II. It was also a major industrial centre in Europe and served as the temporary capital due to its economic significance in the 1940s.
Female textile workers in a state-run factory, Łódź, 1950s
Supersam Warsaw, the first self-serve shopping centre in Poland, 1969
Pewex, a chain of hard currency stores which sold unobtainable Western goods and items
Ration cards for sugar, 1977
Bar mleczny, a former milk bar in Gdynia. These canteens offered value meals to citizens throughout Communist Poland.
Trybuna Ludu (People's Tribune) was a government-sponsored newspaper and propaganda outlet
Andrzej Wajda was a key figure in Polish cinematography during and after the fall of communism
Allegory of communist censorship, Poland, 1989. Newspapers visible are from all Eastern Bloc countries including East Germany, the Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia
The 237-meter Palace of Culture and Science in Warsaw, constructed in 1955. At the time of its completion it was one of the tallest buildings in Europe
Smyk Department Store, 1960s
Polish university students during lecture, 1964
One of many schools constructed in central Warsaw in the 1960s
Jerzy Popiełuszko was a Roman Catholic priest who supported the anti-communist opposition. He was murdered by the Security Services "SB" of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
A demographics graph illustrating population growth between 1900 and 2010. The highest birth rate was during the Second Polish Republic and consequently under the Polish People's Republic.
A typical socialist apartment building in Warsaw representing the style of functionalism, built due to the ever-growing population and high birth rate at the time
Konstantin Rokossovsky, pictured in a Polish uniform, was Marshal of the Soviet Union and Marshal of Poland until being deposed during the Polish October in 1956.
Poland's old and new borders, 1945

The Sejm has been the highest governing body of the Third Polish Republic since the transition of government in 1989.

- Sejm

Much to its own surprise, Solidarity took all contested (35%) seats in the Sejm, the Parliament's lower house, and all but one seat in the elected Senate.

- Polish People's Republic
The first Sejm in Łęczyca. Recording of laws. A.D. 1180

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A leaf from the Łaski Statute depicting the Polish Senate in 1503

Senate of Poland

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A leaf from the Łaski Statute depicting the Polish Senate in 1503
The 1661 session of the Senate in Jasna Góra
In 1791, the "Great Sejm" or "Four-Year Sejm" of 1788–1792 and Senate adopt the May 3rd Constitution at the Royal Castle in Warsaw
Unrealised (1765) plans for a new senate chamber at the Royal Castle in Warsaw
The first session of the reestablished Senate in 1922 after its 127-year hiatus
A debate taking place in the Senate, December 9, 1930
The Senate Agricultural Committee, 1925
The Senate Building at the Sejm complex in Warsaw
The iconic spiral staircase in the Senate building's main hall

The Senate (Senat) is the upper house of the Polish parliament, the lower house being the Sejm.

Following a brief period of existence under the Second Polish Republic, the Senate was again abolished by the authorities of the Polish People's Republic.

Draft of the Polish constitution, with revisions and annotations hand-written by Bolesław Bierut

Constitution of the Polish People's Republic

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Supreme law passed in communist-ruled Poland on 22 July 1952.

Supreme law passed in communist-ruled Poland on 22 July 1952.

Draft of the Polish constitution, with revisions and annotations hand-written by Bolesław Bierut
A meeting of the Polish Council of State during the 1960s

The 1952 constitution introduced a new name for the Polish state, the Polish People's Republic (Polska Rzeczpospolita Ludowa, PRL), replacing the previously used Republic of Poland (Rzeczpospolita Polska).

The communist-led Sejm (legislature) was declared to be the highest state authority.

Prime Minister of Poland

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Head of the cabinet and the head of government of Poland.

Head of the cabinet and the head of government of Poland.

The cabinet of Prime Minister Leopold Skulski in a session in 1920. Due to the deep political divides of the early Second Republic, governments were short-lived, frequently falling within months.
Tadeusz Mazowiecki, former prime minister of Poland browsing an exhibition at the Europeana 1989 roadshow in Warsaw.
Prime Minister Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz (left) being sworn in by President Aleksander Kwaśniewski (right) in October 2005.
President Lech Kaczyński (left) and Prime Minister Donald Tusk (right), seen during Tusk's oath of office in November 2007. Frequent disputes between the two leaders characterized Polish politics between 2007 and 2010.
The Chancellery, located along Ujazdów Avenue in Śródmieście, Warsaw, is home to the premier's executive office and support staff.

Fourteen days following their appointment, the prime minister must submit a programme outlining the government's agenda to the Sejm, requiring a vote of confidence.

Under the communist Polish People's Republic, the ruling Polish United Workers' Party (PZPR) dominated all sections of the government, as recognized under the 1952 Constitution.

Polish United Workers' Party

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Statute of the Polish United Workers' Party, 1956 edition
Władysław Gomułka, at the height of his popularity, on 24 October 1956, addressing hundreds of thousands of people in Warsaw, asked for an end to demonstrations and a return to work. "United with the working class and the nation", he concluded, "the Party will lead Poland along a new way of socialism".
First Secretary of PZPR Edward Gierek (left) with Speaker of the House of Representatives Carl Albert (right), Washington D.C., 1974
PZPR's newspaper "Trybuna Ludu" issue 13 December 1981 reports martial law in Poland.
Dom Partii building in Warsaw, former headquarters of PZPR

The Polish United Workers' Party (Polska Zjednoczona Partia Robotnicza; ), commonly abbreviated to PZPR, was the communist party which ruled the Polish People's Republic as a one-party state from 1948 to 1989.

During the following Polish elections the Communists won 65 percent of the seats in the Sejm, though the seats won were guaranteed and the Communists were unable to gain a majority, while 99 out of the 100 seats in the Senate — all freely contested — were won by Solidarity-backed candidates.


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Country in Central Europe.

Country in Central Europe.

A reconstruction of a Bronze Age, Lusatian culture settlement in Biskupin, 8th century BC
Poland under the rule of Mieszko I, whose acceptance of Christianity under the auspices of the Latin Church and the Baptism of Poland marked the beginning of statehood in 966.
Casimir III the Great is the only Polish king to receive the title of Great. He built extensively during his reign, and reformed the Polish army along with the country's legal code, 1333–70.
The Battle of Grunwald was fought against the German Order of Teutonic Knights, and resulted in a decisive victory for the Kingdom of Poland, 15 July 1410.
Wawel Castle in Kraków, seat of Polish kings from 1038 until the capital was moved to Warsaw in 1596.
King John III Sobieski defeated the Ottoman Turks at the Battle of Vienna on 12 September 1683.
Stanisław II Augustus, the last King of Poland, reigned from 1764 until his abdication on 25 November 1795.
The partitions of Poland, carried out by the Kingdom of Prussia (blue), the Russian Empire (brown), and the Austrian Habsburg Monarchy (green) in 1772, 1793 and 1795.
Chief of State Marshal Józef Piłsudski was a hero of the Polish independence campaign and the nation's premiere statesman from 1918 until his death on 12 May 1935.
Polish Army 7TP tanks on military manoeuvres shortly before the invasion of Poland in 1939
Pilots of the 303 Polish Fighter Squadron during the Battle of Britain, October 1940
Map of the Holocaust in German-occupied Poland with deportation routes and massacre sites. Major ghettos are marked with yellow stars. Nazi extermination camps are marked with white skulls in black squares. The border in 1941 between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union is marked in red.
At High Noon, 4 June 1989 — political poster featuring Gary Cooper to encourage votes for the Solidarity party in the 1989 elections
Flowers in front of the Presidential Palace following the death of Poland's top government officials in a plane crash on 10 April 2010
Topographic map of Poland
Morskie Oko alpine lake in the Tatra Mountains. Poland has one of the highest densities of lakes in the world.
The wisent, one of Poland's national animals, is commonly found at the ancient and UNESCO-protected Białowieża Forest.
The Sejm is the lower house of the parliament of Poland.
The Constitution of 3 May adopted in 1791 was the first modern constitution in Europe.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, located in Warsaw
Polish Air Force F-16s, a single-engine multirole fighter aircraft
A Mercedes-Benz Sprinter patrol van belonging to the Polish State Police Service (Policja)
The Old City of Zamość is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
PKP Intercity Pendolino at the Wrocław railway station
Physicist and chemist Maria Skłodowska-Curie was the first person to win two Nobel Prizes.
Nicolaus Copernicus, the 16th century Polish astronomer who formulated the heliocentric model of the solar system.
Population of Poland from 1900 to 2010 in millions of inhabitants
Dolina Jadwigi — a bilingual Polish-Kashubian road sign with the village name
John Paul II, born Karol Wojtyła, held the papacy between 1978-2005 and was the first Pole to become a Roman Catholic Pope.
Jagiellonian University in Kraków
The Polish White Eagle is Poland's enduring national and cultural symbol
All Saints' Day on 1 November is one of the most important public holidays in Poland.
Lady with an Ermine (1490) by Leonardo da Vinci. It symbolises Poland's cultural heritage and identity.
Selection of hearty traditional comfort food from Poland, including bigos, gołąbki, żurek, pierogi, placki ziemniaczane, and rye bread.
Traditional polonaise dresses, 1780–1785.
Andrzej Wajda, the recipient of an Honorary Oscar, the Palme d'Or, as well as Honorary Golden Lion and Golden Bear Awards.
Headquarters of the publicly funded national television network TVP in Warsaw
The Stadion Narodowy in Warsaw, home of the national football team, and one of the host stadiums of Euro 2012.
The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth at its greatest extent in 1619

As a member of the Eastern Bloc in the global Cold War, the Polish People's Republic was a founding signatory of the Warsaw Pact.

In 1493, John I Albert sanctioned the creation of a bicameral parliament composed of a lower house, the Sejm, and an upper house, the Senate.

Wałęsa (center) with US President George H. W. Bush (right) and Barbara Bush (left) in Warsaw, July 1989.

History of Poland (1989–present)

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Wałęsa (center) with US President George H. W. Bush (right) and Barbara Bush (left) in Warsaw, July 1989.
Waldemar Pawlak, Prime Minister (1993-95)
Aleksander Kwaśniewski (SLD), the only left-wing President of Poland since 1989 (1995-2005)
Leszek Miller, Prime Minister (2001-04)
Lech Kaczyński, the 3rd President of Poland (2005-10)
Jarosław Kaczyński, the leader of the Law and Justice and Prime Minister of Poland (2006-07)
Donald Tusk, the leader of Civic Platform and Prime Minister (2007-14), he was the first prime minister to be reelected, in 2014 he became the President of the European Council.
Bronisław Komorowski, 4th President of Poland (2010-15)
Andrzej Duda, President of Poland (2015-present)

In 1989–1991, Poland engaged in a democratic transition which put an end to the Polish People's Republic and led to the foundation of a democratic government, known as the Third Polish Republic (Polish: III Rzeczpospolita Polska), following the First and Second Polish Republics.

The June election produced a Sejm (lower house), in which one-third of the seats went to the communist party and one-third went to the two parties which had hitherto been their coalition partners.

Second Polish Republic

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Country in Central and Eastern Europe that existed between 1918 and 1939.

Country in Central and Eastern Europe that existed between 1918 and 1939.

The Second Polish Republic in 1930
Coat of arms of Poland, 1919-1927
The Second Polish Republic in 1930
Polish defences at Miłosna, during the decisive Battle of Warsaw, August 1920
Marshal Józef Piłsudski, Chief of State (Naczelnik Państwa) between November 1918 and December 1922
The May Coup d'État (1926)
Ignacy Mościcki, President of Poland (left), Warsaw, 10 November 1936, awarding the Marshal's buława to Edward Rydz-Śmigły
The PZL.37 Łoś was a Polish twin-engine medium bomber.
Polish pavilion at Expo 1937 in Paris
Polish pavilion at the 1939 World's Fair in New York City
Poland's MS Batory, and MS Piłsudski, at the sea port of Gdynia, 18 December 1937
The Eastern Trade Fair in Lwów, 1936
Gdynia, a modern Polish seaport established in 1926
Industry and communications in Poland before the start of the Second World War
The CWS T-1 Torpedo was the first serially-built car manufactured in Poland.
Ciągówka Ursus was the first Polish farm tractor, produced from 1922 to 1927 in the Ursus Factory.
Prime Minister Kazimierz Bartel, also a scholar and mathematician
The National Museum in Warsaw (Polish: Muzeum Narodowe w Warszawie), popularly known as the MNW, opened in 1938.
Marian Rejewski, Jerzy Różycki and Henryk Zygalski, Polish mathematicians and cryptologists who worked at breaking the German Enigma ciphers before and during the Second World War
Poland's population density in 1930
Contemporary map showing language frequency in 1931 across Poland; red: more than 50% native Polish speakers; green: more than 50% native language other than Polish, including Yiddish, Hebrew, Ukrainian, Belarusian, Russian and less frequent others
Officers from the Second Mountain Brigade of the Polish Legions in the First World War establishing the Polish-Czechoslovak border; they are pictured near the summit of Popadia in Gorgany during the formation of the Second Republic, 1915.
Physical map of the Second Polish Republic
Polish infantry marching, 1939
Polish soldiers with anti-aircraft artillery near Warsaw Central Station during the first days of September, 1939
Polish 7TP light tanks
ORP Orzeł was the lead ship of her class of submarines serving in the Polish Navy during the Second World War.

After the Second World War and the establishment of the later states of the Polish People's Republic and the Third Polish Republic, the state was referred to as the Second Polish Republic.

The Parliament elected him, and he could appoint the Prime Minister as well as the government with the Sejm's (lower house's) approval, but he could only dissolve the Sejm with the Senate's consent.

A meeting of the Council of State during the 1960s

Polish Council of State

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A meeting of the Council of State during the 1960s

The Council of State of the Republic of Poland (Rada Państwa) was introduced by the Small Constitution of 1947 as an organ of executive power.

The Council of State consisted of the President of the Republic of Poland as chairman, the Marshal and Vice-marshals of the Sejm, President of the Supreme Audit Office, and potential other members.