LOCAL ELECTIONS IN THE CRACOW VOIVODSHIP IN 1958
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This article is based on a database of sources from contemporary political parties and the headquarters of the so-called Front of National Unity (FJN) as well as from the 1957-1958 reports and analyses of the Security Service (SB). All the source materials can be found in the New Archives (AAN) in Warsaw, the State Archives in Cracow and in the archives of the Cracow branch of the former Office of State Security (UOP). The political thaw of October 1956 brought a number of changes into the functioning of regional (voivodship) councils. A new set of rules was drawn up for the elections of 2 February 1958. Formally the list of candidates was to be compiled by the Front of National Unity, an emanation of all political parties taking part in the election. In reality the regional committees of the Polish United Workers' Party (PZPR) controlled every stage of the selection process. At consultative meetings the participants were as a rule only shown a list of approved names. The compilation of the definitive version of the lists for council elections on the level of voivodship, county (powiat) and urban municipalities proceeded smoothly enough. The 33 names entered by voters using the instrument of the consultative meeting were but a minor nuisance. In the rural municipalities the selection process was more difficult to manage. The resistance could be quite strong and moreover in many small constituencies PZPR simply lacked members to fill in the seats. On ballot day 953 candidates, including 468 communist party members, placed in safe positions on the lists were struck out by so many voters that they failed to be elected. The United Peasants' Party (ZSL) lost 104 candidates. The seats vacated by PZPR and ZSL nominees were filled by 579 independent candidates. When the results were processed, it became clear that 11 municipalities did not return a single PZPR member and that in 8 counties independent members had a majority in municipal councils. The process of selecting candidates for municipal councils and the election campaign revitalized some social groups, especially the rural electorate that used to vote for the Polish Peasants' Party (PSL). The elections also brought to light some tensions and differences between PZPR and ZSL. It seems that the dream of rebuilding an independent agrarian party, which had sprung up among the rank-and-file members of ZSL in 1956, was still alive in 1958. The elections showed that in spite of all the restrictions Polish society tried to take advantage of the concessions of the electoral law and put forward its own candidates.
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