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Polish political and economic reforms referendum, 1987

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Title: Polish political and economic reforms referendum, 1987  
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Language: English
Subject: 1988 Polish strikes, Referendums in Poland, Polish legislative election, 1957, 1981 general strike in Bielsko-Biała, Small Constitution of 1947
Collection: 1987 in Poland, 1987 Referendums, Referendums in Poland, Reform in Poland, Solidarity (Polish Union Movement)
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Polish political and economic reforms referendum, 1987

This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of

A referendum on political and economic reforms was held by Poland's communist regime on 29 November 1987.[1] The government's aim in holding the referendum was to obtain a mandate for difficult economic and political reforms. Around a third of eligible voters did not participate, defying the regime.[2] Only 44% of Poland's 26 million eligible voters voted yes to the question on economic reform, and 46% voted yes to the second question on "democratisation" in Poland. Even though a majority of the votes cast supported the propositions, according to the rules of the referendum the majority of eligible voters had to vote yes in order for the referendum to pass. The resulting failure of the referendum was unprecedented, as it was the first time that Communist authorities in Eastern Europe had lost a vote.[2]


  • Questions 1
  • Results 2
    • Question I 2.1
    • Question II 2.2
  • References 3


Voters were presented with two questions:[3]

  1. Are you for the support of radical economic reform?
  2. Are you for a deep democratisation of the political life?

The first proposal would allow the government to carry out the "full government program for radical economic recovery," aimed at "improving living conditions," on the understanding that this would require a "difficult" two-to-three-year period of "rapid changes." The second would lead to the introduction a new "Polish model" for "democratising political life, aimed at strengthening self-government, extending the rights of citizens and increasing their participation" in running the country.[4]


Question I

Choice Votes %
For 11,601,975 70.5
Against 4,866,207 29.5
Invalid/blank votes 69,520
Total 17,638,483 100
Registered voters/turnout 26,201,169 67.3
Source: Nohlen & Stöver

Question II

Choice Votes %
For 12,127,621 73.7
Against 4,317,401 26.3
Invalid/blank votes 69,520
Total 17,638,483 100
Registered voters/turnout 26,201,169 67.3
Source: Nohlen & Stöver


  1. ^ Nohlen, D & Stöver, P (2010) Elections in Europe: A data handbook, p1491 ISBN 978-3-8329-5609-7
  2. ^ a b Poland Thanks for Asking, but Time, 14 December 1987
  3. ^ Nohlen & Stöver, p1498
  4. ^ Abraham Brumberg Poland: The New Opposition The New York Review of Books, Volume 35, Number 2, 18 February 1988
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