The Legal-Constitutional Bases of Democratisation in Poland: Systemic and Constitutional Change

  • Wojciech Sokolewicz


The building of new democratic structures and procedures and the replacement of central state planning and management by a market economy signifies the deepest possible change, which well deserves to be termed qualitative, in the state’s political system as well as in the socio-economic order. One should also consider the full significance of the fact that these processes are taking place with the full majesty of the due process of law. The law stemming from the previous epoch of autocratic rule and the primacy of state property as well as the values reflecting the running of the previous system are both being respected in full. This applies even more so to the demands generated by the establishment, interpretation and implementation of the new system. The ‘old’ law has not been rejected in a single act but it is being systematically amended and added to; the legal order as a whole, has therefore not been interrupted but is being continued. With the significance of this feature for the process of constitutional law in mind I will attempt to answer the following two questions in this chapter; why did this happen in this way and what are the consequences and problems which ensue?


Communist Party Legal Order Constitutional Amendment Parliamentary Election Universal Suffrage 
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  1. 2.
    After some years of very radical systemic change the so-called ‘Little Constitution’ of February 1947 re-established the legal validity of various arrangements and regulations set out in the March 1921 constitution which survived until the 1952 constitution came into force. On this problem see K. Działocha and J. Trzciński, Zagadnienie obowiązywania Konstytucji Marcowej w Polsce Ludowej (Wrocław, 1977), especially pp.89 ff.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    The critical opposition view of the lack of legality in the Polish socialist state is presented with much detailed supporting evidence by A. Rzepliński, Sądownictwo w PRL (London: 2nd edn, 1990).Google Scholar
  3. 5.
    Permitted in general terms by article 46 of Sejm’s Standing Order, Monitor Polski, 1986, no. 21, position 151 ff.Google Scholar
  4. 12.
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    This view was expressed by W. Osiatyński, ‘Wyzwanie konstytucji’, Gazeta Wyborcza, 10 March 1990, p. 2.Google Scholar

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© George Sanford 1992

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  • Wojciech Sokolewicz

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