Polish presidential election, 2000

Polish presidential election, 2000
8 October 2000

Turnout 61.08%
Nominee Aleksander Kwaśniewski Andrzej Olechowski
Party Independent Independent
Popular vote 9,485,224 3,044,141
Percentage 53.9% 17.3%

Nominee Marian Krzaklewski Jarosław Kalinowski
Popular vote 2,739,621 1,047,949
Percentage 15.6% 6.0%

President before election

Aleksander Kwaśniewski


Aleksander Kwaśniewski

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politics and government of

The 2000 Polish presidential election took place in Poland on 8 October 2000. Incumbent President Aleksander Kwaśniewski was easily re-elected in the first round after winning more than 50% of the votes.


President Kwaśniewski was seen as very likely to win re-election in the run up to the presidential election[1] with polls showing that his popularity was high as 70% support.[2] His main challenger was expected to be Marian Krzaklewski from the Solidarity Electoral Action, which had formed the government since winning the last parliamentary elections in 1997.[3] The other main candidate was a former Foreign Minister and more liberal conservative Andrzej Olechowski,[3] who won support from voters who were discontented with both of the other main candidates and in particular younger voters, businessmen and intellectuals.[4]

Candidates seen as having less of a chance included Andrzej Lepper, a populist farmers leader who opposed entry into the European Union and former president Lech Wałęsa.[3] Wałęsa was rejected as the candidate for the Solidarity party he had won the presidency for, and thus ran separately in the election.[5]

In order to be elected in the first round a candidate had to gain over 50% of the vote. If no candidate reached this level, then a second round would have been held between the top two candidates. As the campaign continued, the biggest question in the election was whether or not incumbent President Kwaśniewski would win the 50% required to avoid a second round.[6]

In the August before the election Kwaśniewski and another former president and candidate Lech Wałęsa were investigated by a court on allegations that they had been informers for the Communist secret police.[2] If they had been found guilty they could have been banned from seeking election to political office for 10 years.[3] However they both claimed that the evidence had been manipulated by political opponents and were cleared by the court.[7]

Solidarity candidate Krzaklewski attacked Kwaśniewski for his past as a Communist party activist.[8] However opinion polls in August showed this had little effect with Kwaśniewski well ahead with over 60% support, while Krzaklewski was second and Olechowski third, but both a long way behind.[3] President Kwaśniewski's campaign focused on reconciling all of Poland with slogans including "Poland, our common home".[9] Most voters felt he had done well as President and he was seen as having done a good job in guiding Poland to membership of NATO.[10] Krzaklewski's popularity was not high due to the infighting in the government led by his Solidarity party since they had won the 1997 parliamentary election.[11] Meanwhile, Lech Wałęsa trailed badly in the polls with only about 2% support, which Wałęsa saw as being due to voters seeing him as being responsible for the pain involved in the transition from communism.[5]

In the election 3 candidates ran on platforms against the European Union.[12] During the campaign one of them, Andrzej Lepper, was arrested for illegally blocking a customs post, however he claimed that this was an attempt to sabotage his campaign.[13]

As the election neared Kwaśniewski dropped in the polls and it became uncertain whether he would win the 50% required to avoid a second round. This followed a television advertisement from Solidarity candidate Krzaklewski in which Kwaśniewski was accused of having mocked Pope John Paul II.[14] The video showed Kwaśniewski apparently urging his security advisor to kiss the ground is a parody of the Pope, although Kwaśniewski claimed this was inaccurate.[6] At least one poll showed Kwaśniewski's support having dropped by 10% in one week following this, however it was the other main candidate, Andrzej Olechowski, who benefited as Krzaklewski was seen as being tarnished for having run a negative campaign.[11]



Incumbent President Kwaśniewski won the election in the first round receiving almost 54% of the vote.[4] Independent Andrzej Olechowski came second beating Solidarity candidate Krzaklewski into third place.[4] Meanwhile, former President Lech Wałęsa only won 1% of the vote[15] and following the election stood down as leader of his small Christian Democratic party.[4][16]

 Summary of the 8 October 2000 Polish presidential election results
Candidates – party votes %
Aleksander KwaśniewskiIndependent supported by Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) 9,485,224 53.90
Andrzej Olechowski – Independent 3,044,141 17.30
Marian KrzaklewskiSolidarity Electoral Action (AWS) 2,739,621 15.57
Jarosław KalinowskiPolish People's Party (PSL) 1,047,949 5.95
Andrzej LepperSelf-Defense of the Republic of Poland (SRP) 537,570 3.05
Janusz Korwin-MikkeReal Politics Union (UPR) 252,499 1.43
Lech WałęsaChristian Democracy of the 3rd Republic of Poland (ChD III RP) 178,590 1.01
Piotr IkonowiczPolish Socialist Party (PPS) 139,682 0.79
Jan Łopuszański – Polish Agreement (PP) 89,002 0.51
Dariusz Grabowski – Coalition for Poland (KdP) 38,672 0.22
Tadeusz Wilecki – Independent 28,805 0.16
Bogdan Pawłowski – Independent 17,164 0.10
Total 17,598,919 100.00
Total valid votes 17,598,919
Total invalid votes 190,312
Total votes cast 17,789,231
Turnout 61.08%
Sources: Wybory Prezydenta Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej 2000: Wyniki Oficjalne[17]


  1. "Europe: Can Poland's government survive?". The Economist. 2000-06-17. p. 50.
  2. 1 2 Reed, John (2000-08-04). "Ghosts from Poland's communist past come to haunt presidential hopefuls: Lech Walesa and Aleksander Kwasniewski will have their denials of co-operating with secret police tested.". Financial Times. p. 9.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 Boyes, Roger (2000-08-08). "Secret police files to decide Walesa's fate". The Times. p. 13.
  4. 1 2 3 4 "Europe: The changing Poles". The Economist. 2000-10-14. p. 59.
  5. 1 2 Connolly, Kate (2007-10-07). "Past is not enough for modern Poland: Lech Walesa won the fight against communism in the 80s, but is failing to win over voters in 2000". The Guardian. p. 18.
  6. 1 2 "Polish president poised for first-round win". Financial Times. 2000-10-07. p. 3.
  7. Connolly, Kate (2000-08-12). "Walesa cleared of cold war spy claims". The Guardian. p. 2.
  8. "Polish polls". Financial Times. 2000-07-04. p. 20.
  9. "Polish president secures re-election with strong first-round win". Financial Times. 2000-10-09. p. 3.
  10. Connolly, Kate (2000-10-09). "Polish president heads to victory". The Guardian. p. 16.
  11. 1 2 Blazyca, George (2000-10-07). "Videotape blurs the picture for Polish president". The Scotsman. p. 11.
  12. Fletcher, Martin (2000-10-05). "Frustrated Poles lose faith in EU as wait drags on". The Times. p. 18.
  13. "Polish election contender arrested". Financial Times. 2000-08-25. p. 6.
  14. "Polish president suffers in poll". The Irish Times. 2000-10-05. p. 10.
  15. "Polish leader wins second term". The Times. 2000-10-09. Retrieved 2009-05-19.
  16. "Humiliated Wałęsa steps down as party chairman". Evening Standard. 2000-10-16. p. 4.
  17. "Wybory Prezydenta Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej 2000: Wyniki Oficjalne" (in Polish). Retrieved 28 February 2016.
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