election poland

Only a few days have passed since Poles went to the polls to vote once again. Last Sunday (April 7) local government elections were held in Poland – we chose, among others: city ​​presidents, mayors, councilors and local politicians who will represent us in the coming years. Or maybe just half of us? Once again, many election specialists paid attention not so much to the result of the vote itself, but to the disappointing voter turnout – less than 52 percent took part in the vote. Polish women and men entitled to do so. Even the National Electoral Commission (the institution responsible for organizing elections in Poland) admitted that this result could hardly be considered satisfactory and politicians should think about why they reached only about half of the Polish society with their message. The problem, however, is that this is not the first time that turnout in elections in Poland has been very low, and discussions on this topic have been going on for years. What are the most frequently discussed possible causes?

Firstly, in Poland all voting is organized at polling stations, not online. This means that on election day you have to appear near the place of registration, which is a significant inconvenience for many people and discourages them from voting (many people actually live somewhere other than where they are registered – for reasons including studies, work, trips or temporary stay in another place). So is it worth traveling halfway across the country to cast one vote? Many people will say that of course it is, but in practice, unfortunately, many people choose not to vote. It is true that in some elections it is possible to vote anywhere, but it also requires completing appropriate documents in advance, which for many people turns out to be so tiring or time-consuming that they prefer to resign from participating in the elections.

It is also worth noting that in Poland, low voter turnout is usually visible, especially among young people. There are also significantly fewer voters among older people than among middle-aged people. What is the explanation? “The low turnout among young voters is explained by the fact that they are busy with other things: they finish school, have to find a job, look for an apartment, start a family, and as a result, they are less interested in politics and do not vote. However, the low turnout among the oldest voters is attributed to the poor health, which makes it difficult to get to the polling stations” – one can read in a study conducted by the Batory Foundation and the Your Voice, Your Choice coalition [1].

Many people also point out that from their perspective, voting is only a “choice of the lesser evil” and they are rejected by virtually all politicians and their mutual disputes. As a result, they feel that they do not have a candidate and someone who could really improve their standard of living. – When asked why they don’t vote, they answer: “because my vote doesn’t count”, “because it doesn’t matter whether I vote or not”, “because no matter who comes to power, it will be bad anyway”. , “because the system is bad and I will not contribute to it” – explained one of the Polish political scientists a few years ago [2].

Of course, there are many more social factors that influence participation in elections. According to specialists, participation in voting in Poland is related to, among others, with “gender (women vote less willingly), age (middle-aged people vote most often, young and old people vote less often), education (the higher, the more frequent participation), wealth (the poor are more passive) and the frequency of religious practices (those who practice regularly are more willing to vote)” [3].

Probably at least some of the above arguments can be considered valid and they should encourage those in power to make changes that may have a real and significant impact on voter turnout. It is also worth remembering that, contrary to appearances, each vote has a significant impact and may influence the situation in our country in the coming years, and perhaps even decades. Therefore, it is worth voting not out of a sense of compulsion, but out of citizenship. After all, in a democracy, each of us has an influence on what our reality will look like. But for this to happen, active involvement in social life is necessary (both at the national and European level). It is worth considering, especially since soon, in June, we will have another election – to the European Parliament. So let’s make sure that the turnout result is not a disappointment this time. Especially that, this time we can influence not only the future of our country, but also the future of the entire continent and the European Union.


[1] Wnp.pl, “Turnout in elections: Why don’t Poles vote?”: https://www.wnp.pl/parlamentarny/wydarzenia/frekwencja-w-wyborach-dlagogo-polacy-nie-glosuja,1221.html

[2] Dziennik Gazeta Prawna, Joanna Pasztelańska, “Non-voters: Why don’t Poles vote?”: https://www.gazetaprawna.pl/wiadomosci/artykuly/930013,niewyborcy-dlaczej-nie-chodzi-na-wybory.html

[3] SWPS University, Ph.D. Mikołaj Cześnik, “Why don’t people vote? About the political apathy of Poles”: https://web.swps.pl/strefa-kultur/artykuly/419-ludzie/18385-czemu-ludzie-nie-glosuja-o-politicalej-apatii

Picture: Person, Die Papier Auf Schachtel Fallen Lässt · Kostenloses Stock-Foto (pexels.com)

election poland
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