chapter  4
55 Pages

The Political Players: Elites, Parties, and Other Actors in the Third Republic

WithMarjorie Castle, Ray Taras

This chapter examines the patterns of winners and losers in the electoral contests for control of the state and state policy from 1990 through 2001, in order to identify Political players. It looks at political elites and the parties they lead, at interest groups, and at those other crucial actors in Polish democratic politics — the Catholic Church and the mass media. Questions about political elites are crucial for the study of any democracy. As might be expected, the political elites are highly educated, with over 80 percent of parliamentarians holding university degrees, as do an even higher percentage of politically appointed administrative elites. Most Polish parties can be described more easily in terms of the traditionalist versus secularist dimension, but to a very large extent this coincides with the historical-cultural cleavage. Out of the six nationwide political parties winning parliamentary seats in the 2001 elections, three had been formed less than a year earlier, including the second-runner, Civic Platform.