Preliminary Findings – Mission to the 2019 Polish Parliamentary Election

The 2019 Polish Parliamentary Election was efficiently administered, and the overall conduct of election day proceedings complied with democratic standards, appearing to be carried out in a general atmosphere of trust. Across the polling stations visited, a limited number of minor irregularities were observed. The design of polling stations presented a challenge to the secrecy of the vote in some locations as there were cases of insufficient booths for the number of voters, and of layouts which meant ballots may be visible to others while being completed. In some cases, polling stations were not accessible to people with disabilities.

Turnout is estimated by the National Electoral Commission to be 61.7%. Considering that at the previous Parliamentary Election (2015) 50.9% of voters came to the polls, and the post-1989 record was previously 53.8% (2007), the 2019 Polish Parliamentary Election seems to represent an historical date for political participation.  Based on preliminary findings and observations from polling stations visited by AEGEE observers, we estimate that approximately 15% of those voters were young people aged between 18 and 30. However, a more exact statistic on the actual youth turnout is not available at the time of this release, and these numbers rely on an approximation of the data recorded by AEGEE observers during their visits to the various polling stations. 

Some interlocutors expressed their concerns over low youth turnout prior to election day. Despite this, they reported that no large-scale voter education campaigns directly targeting youth and first-time voters have been launched. The electoral administration bodies conducted a general voter education campaign, through traditional as well as social media, including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Polish authorities appeared to be generally well prepared for hosting international observers. Overall, polling station staff members were cooperative, and voting and counting processes were visible and open to AEGEE observers. Of the polling stations visited by AEGEE observers, only 13% had non-partisan observers present, all of whom represented domestic organisations. During election day observation, the AEGEE mission encountered no young domestic observers at polling places.

AEGEE observers noted that young people and women were well represented on precinct election commissions visited, assessing that people aged 30 or younger constituted 26% of commission members, and in 25% of the cases, that the chairperson was aged 35 or younger. In 64% of the polling stations observed, the chairperson was female.

AEGEE Election Observation is in the process of collecting data on youth representation among candidates and newly elected parliamentarians. 

Polish youth has demonstrated a great interest in the election, frequently participating as members of the polling station staff. However, certain efforts, such as voter education, political campaigns and citizen observer recruitment do not appear to have delivered a representative level of youth engagement. 

The AEGEE Election Observation Mission to Poland deployed 23 observers of 16 nationalities from four different continents across the country to observe the 13 October 2019 Polish Parliamentary Election. The observers covered nine districts (powiaty) including Gdańsk, Łódź, Kraków, Lublin, Olkusz, Poznań, Szczecin, Warszawa and Wrocław, where they visited a total of 104 polling stations. The detailed findings of the Mission will be presented in a final report drawing on research conducted during the campaign period and Election Day observations.