Ideology and Social Position in Poland: The Determinants of Voting for the Right, 1991–2005


  • *Direct correspondence to Megan G. Swindal, Department of Development Sociology, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853 〈〉. The author will share data and coding information with those wishing to replicate the study. The author is grateful to Tom Hirschl, David Brown, and David Ost for their guidance and suggestions; Kazimierz Slomczyns and Bela Greskovits for their help with data access and historical accuracy; and three anonymous reviewers for useful comments provided on earlier drafts. Cornell University's Department of Development Sociology provided funding to the author.


Objective. The far Right's rise to power in Poland in 2005 left many observers curious about the relationship between conditions of rising inequality, recent E.U. accession, and the changing resonance of right-wing ideology. This study analyzes Polish voting patterns over the 1991–2005 period in order to determine the effects of ideological and social-structural variables on political behavior in a postsocialist context.

Methods. The study employs bivariate analysis to assess the persistence or novelty of associations between conservative ideologies and right-wing voting throughout a period of macro-structural change. The data are drawn from the Polish General Social Survey.

Results. The analysis indicates that by 2001, three ideological factors became newly correlated with voting for the Right: religious traditionalism, anti-Communism, and free market values. Structurally, Poles with more years of education were the new base of party support by 2001.

Conclusions. Contrary to expectations, postsocialism's economic “losers”—those with less education, less income, the unemployed—were not more likely to turn to the Right. Middle-class interests began to have greater political influence by the end of this period, a conclusion that seems supported by more recent election outcomes.