The Polish parliamentary elections of 2001 took place in a context of fresh upheavals in the configuration of political parties. The architects of the new electoral law aimed to reduce the seats gained by the social democrats and increase their own. They succeeded in the first aim by a change of electoral formula, forcing the victorious social democratic electoral coalition to seek a third coalition partner. They did not achieve the second aim, as their own failures in government drastically reduced their electoral support and facilitated the breakthrough of populist formations. The result had implications for party development and the composition and workings of both parliament and government. While representation was enhanced by a parliament more accurately reflecting the voters’ choice, the impact appeared potentially harmful to Polish democracy as a whole.

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