Lack of Electoral Demographic Adjustment May Skew Polish Vote

Winning the popular vote may be not enough to get the biggest share of seats in parliament

29 August 2023

Paweł Marczewski

Marcin Król Fellow

For several years, the Polish parliament ignored requests from the National Electoral Commission to adjust voting districts to demographic changes. This failure gives disproportionate voting power to rural and small-town voters, many of whom support the ruling Law and Justice party.

For many citizens, equality of voting rights is a significant feature of democracy. Ideas like granting multiple votes to the more educated, suggested for example by John Stuart Mill in his essay “On Liberty” from 1859, or limiting voting rights only to men or property owners, seem to be relics of the past when democracies were still imperfect. 

Electoral systems are decisive factors that determine how votes translate into mandates. Every electoral system has to consider the country’s population and divide available seats, mandates, or votes among residents.

In contemporary societies, populations are changing much quicker than in decades before. Most advanced economies with a high standard of living entered a period of demographic decline, which means that some regions are depopulating quicker than others, such as big cities. 

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Paweł Marczewski

Marcin Król Fellow

Marcin Król Fellow. Paweł Marczewski is head of the research unit Citizens at the ideaForum, think tank of the Batory Foundation, a member of the Carnegie Civic Research Network, and an affiliated researcher at the SWPS Youth Study Center. He holds a PhD in sociology from the University of Warsaw. His main areas of interest are relations between demographic changes and democracy, social movements, civil society organizations, and social justice. He is a contributing writer at the weekly Tygodnik Powszechny and a member of the editorial board of Przegląd Polityczny quarterly, his comments and articles appeared also in the Nation, Public Seminar, Eurozine, as well as major Polish dailies Gazeta Wyborcza and Rzeczpospolita. In the years 2011-2017, he was an assistant professor at the Department of Sociology at the University of Warsaw, in 2015-2017 also head of publications at the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna.

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