Statement by civil society organisations after the 2023 parliamentary elections

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Statement by civil society organisations after the 2023 parliamentary elections

On 17 October, the National Electoral Commission announced the results of the parliamentary elections. The United Right, with a score of 35 % of the votes, did not receive sufficient support for the continued exercise of power. Three groups, which have so far represented political opposition have von a greater trust mandate: the Civic Coalition, the Third Way and the New Left, with a total of 54% votes.

74 % of those eligible to vote took part in the elections, including almost 70 % of the total population of young people. Such a high turnout has not only set a record in the history of democratic Poland, but has placed us in the top 5 of the  European countries with the highest voter turnout. It is a great success for the civil society and a serious commitment for those who are now in power.

A period of great mobilisation of the civil society around this most important act of parliamentary democracy - namely the general elections, has come to its closure. Poles have reaffirmed their commitment to democracy, freedom and civil liberties, the right to decide who will rule on their behalf and how they will be exercising it. This is evidenced not only by the record turnout, but also by the unprecedented commitment of tens of social organisations and many thousands of people in the decision to work towards equal, universal and fair elections, conducted in the pre-election period and on election day itself.

Their actions - monitoring the law and the electoral process, monitoring the way in which the elections are organised, the way in which the election committees conducted their campaigns and financed them, observing the process of casting votes and counting them, numerous educational and information campaigns and social campaigns encouraging participation in voting – all these activities are solid evidence for their civic maturity and accountability. They are also an expression of the effectiveness of solidarity among social organisations.

Social organisations, in order to meet social expectations, have also formulated and presented cross-party, civic proposals for legal changes and specific social policies in the area of restoring the rule of law, protecting the rights of women, minorities, people with disabilities, the care for climate and environment, education, culture, public media, social activity. This action stemmed from the sense of responsibility for the shape and future of the Polish state and the integrity of our community. We showed that we havea vision of Poland, in which everyone can feel at home and participate in creating solutions concerning it; furthermore, that we can inspire political groups to engage in dialogue and programmatic debate.

The elections, as we pointed out in our published statements, appeals, analyses and reports, were organised and conducted in a way that did not provide equal rights and opportunities for all groups. The United Right introduced the last minute changes giving it an electoral advantage. In order to achieve political gain they ordered a national referendum to take place on the electoral day - which was, in fact, a plebiscite of support for their policies, a tool to discredit competitors. On an unprecedented scale in Poland, they used state institutions and resources in the campaign, including public media, Polish Post and state-owned companies with Orlen as the most prominent of those. Government officials and political nominees on numerous occasions abused their position to campaign and to attack and slander political opponents.

Despite all these efforts, the vast majority of Poles opposed the continuation of the rule of the United Right, putting their trust in the three opposition groups. The high voter turnout did not translate into equally numerous participation in the referendum ordered on the day of the elections. With only 40 % of the referendum’s turnout, its results are of a non-binding nature.

We have entered the period of formation of a new parliament and the formation of a government. As civil society organisations working for the development of democracy, the protection of human rights and the building of a strong civil society, we expect the parliamentary majority and the government formed by the winning groups to deliver on their electoral announcements and commitments: restoring the rule of law, rebuilding the democratic state structures, introducing policies for the development of the country and its social justice, as well as the reforms necessary to respond to the civilisational challenges of the 21st century - with its climate, environmental and demographic challenges. We hope that they will do so with respect for the rights of all persons, including the rights of women, children, minorities, people exposed to discrimination and exclusion, in accordance with the Constitution, with concern for all residents of our country, including those who voted for other groups or did not go to elections.  

The outcome of the elections gives the civil society organisations the continuing task of working towards strengthening, rooting and renewing democracy, protecting the rule of law, promoting European values, increasing civic participation, especially among young people who showed their willingness to participate in public life on election day and their readiness to debate constructively. We must give them a voice and space for action, ensuring their influence on social and political reality. We must also seek dialogue and understanding with people of different views, we must work towards building solidarity and mutual trust, strengthening social ties, meeting civilizational challenges in solidarity, reviving the community.

As civil society organisations, we will identify errors, irregularities and shortcomings in public policies, demand their correction and propose possible solutions. We will monitor the activities of public authorities and the institutions they manage. We will criticise, protest and intervene when the law is violated, the principles of democracy are being undermined, our civil rights are denied or restricted. This is the role and task of an independent civil society, which forms the foundation of a strong democracy.

Thank you, to everyone who worked with us. We are soon facing local elections and European elections. It is also up to us whether we can strengthen Polish self-government and our place and role in the European community.

List of signatories: 
1.    Akcja Demokracja
2.    Alliance4Europe
3.    Amnesty International Polska
4.    Dolnośląska Federacja Organizacji Pozarządowych 
5.    Dziewuchy Austria 
6.    Edukacja w Działaniu
7.    Edukacyjna Fundacja im. Romana Czerneckiego
8.    Forum Darczyńców w Polsce
9.    Fundacja Civis Polonus
10.    Fundacja ClientEarth Prawnicy dla Ziemi
11.    Fundacja CultureLab (Mapuj Pomoc)
12.    Fundacja dla Polski | Fundusz Obywatelski im. Henryka Wujca 
13.    Fundacja EduTank 
14.    Fundacja Edukacyjna Przedsiębiorczości 
15.    Fundacja Feminoteka
16.    Fundacja Greenmind 
17.    Fundacja im. Stefana Batorego 
18.    Federacja Konsumentów
19.    Fundacja Kongres Obywatelskich Ruchów Demokratycznych 
20.    Fundacji Kultura Liberalna
21.    Fundacja Lasy i Obywatele 
22.    Fundacja na rzecz Kobiet i Planowania Rodziny FEDERA
23.    Fundacja na rzecz Praw Ucznia
24.    Fundacja Nowej Kultury Bęc Zmiana 
25.    Fundacja OFF school 
26.    Fundacja ONI
27.    Fundacja Ośrodka KARTA 
28.    Fundacja Panoptykon 
29.    Fundacja Pole Dialogu
30.    Fundację Polska Gościnność / Chlebem i Solą.
31.    Fundacja Przestrzeń dla edukacji
32.    Fundacja Res Publica
33.    Fundacja Rodzić po Ludzku 
34.    Fundacja Rozwój TAK - Odkrywki NIE
35.    Fundacja Stocznia 
36.    Fundacja Szkoła Liderów im. Z. Pełczyńskiego
37.    Fundacja Szkoły w Chmurze
38.    Fundacja Teach for Poland
39.    Fundacja Varia Posnania 
40.    Fundacja Widzialne 
41.    Fundacja Wolności
42.    Fundacja “Wolne Sądy”
43.    Helsińska Fundacja Praw Człowieka 
44.    Inicjatywa “Nasz Rzecznik” 
45.    Inicjatywa obywatelska “Chcemy całego życia!”
46.    Inicjatywa Wiosna Bez Barier
47.    Inicjatywa "Wolna Szkoła"
48.    Inicjatywa Wschód
49.    Instytut Spraw Publicznych 
50.    Instytut Prawa i Społeczeństwa INPRIS
51.    Instytut Bezpieczeństwa Społecznego
52.    Kampania Przeciw Homofobii
53.    Klub Inteligencji Katolickiej w Warszawie
54.    Koalicja Klimatyczna
55.    Komitet Obrony Demokracji
56.    Konsorcjum Migracyjne 
57.    Krajowe Forum Oświaty Niepublicznej
58.    Krytyka Polityczna (Stowarzyszenie im. Stanisława Brzozowskiego) 
59.    Ogólnopolska Federacja Organizacji Pozarządowych OFOP
60.    Ogólnopolskie Pogotowie dla Ofiar Przemocy w Rodzinie “Niebieska Linia” Instytut Psychologii Zdrowia PTP
61.    Ogólnopolski Strajk Kobiet 
62.    Ośrodek Działań Ekologicznych “Źródła” 
63.    Otwarta Rzeczpospolita - Stowarzyszenie przeciw Antysemityzmowi i Ksenofobii
64.    Pracownia na rzecz Wszystkich Istot
65.    Polska Fundacja im. Roberta Schumana  
66.    Polskie Stowarzyszenie im. Janusza Korczaka 
67.    Protest z Wykrzyknikiem
68.    Ruch Społeczny Obywatele dla Edukacji
69.    Ruch społeczny NIE dla chaosu w szkole
70.    SOS dla Edukacji
71.    Sieć Obywatelska Watchdog Polska 
72.    Stowarzyszenie BoMiasto 
73.    Stowarzyszenie dO!PAmina lab 
74.    Stowarzyszenie Ekologiczne EKO-UNIA
75.    Stowarzyszenie Inicjatywa Kobiety Piaseczno 
76.    Stowarzyszenie Interwencji Prawnej
77.    Stowarzyszenie Prokuratorów Lex Super Omnia
78.    Stowarzyszenie Tkalnia 
79.    Społeczne Towarzystwo Oświatowe STO 
80.    Stowarzyszenie Umarłych Statutów
81.    Wałbrzyska Rada Kobiet 
82.    Wielkopolska Rada Koordynacyjna Związek Organizacji Pozarządowych
83.    Wspólnota Robocza Związków Organizacji Socjalnych (WRZOS)
84.    Związek Stowarzyszeń Forum Lubelskich Organizacji Pozarządowych
85.    Związek Stowarzyszeń Polska Zielona Sieć

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