Parliamentary Elections of October 1991
Over Walesa's veto, the Sejm version of the parliamentary election bill became law in mid-1991. Elections were scheduled for the following October. During the months before the election, Walesa refused to endorse any of the numerous post-Solidarity parties and other parties that fielded slates of candidates. He remained noncommittal, distancing himself even from the Center Alliance, which had been his core of support during the presidential election. In fact, Walesa defended the Bielecki government from attacks by the Center Alliance. The president participated in the parliamentary campaign only by urging voters to defeat former communist candidates who had joined other parties after the dissolution of the PZPR.
As Walesa had predicted, the first election held under the new election law produced a badly fragmented parliament. Only 43 percent of the electorate voted in the first totally free parliamentary elections since 1928. Twenty-nine parties won seats in the new Sejm, but none received more than 14 percent of the vote. Both extremes of the political spectrum fared well, while the moderate post-Solidarity parties failed to win the expected majority of seats. This outcome promised a Sejm no less obstructionist than the one it replaced, and prospects for a coalition agreeing on a new prime minister were dim. At least five were needed to form a coalition holding a majority of seats in the Sejm. The Social Democracy of the Republic of Poland was essentially an ineligible party because of its roots in the PZPR. Meanwhile, the grave split of the two leading Solidarity factions made them incompatible in any coalition. This situation left a center-right coalition as the only practical option. Walesa's initial nominee for prime minister failed, however, because he lacked support from the Center Alliance and Bielecki's party, the Liberal-Democratic Congress.
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