The Leadership of the Sanacja Camp and the Controversy over the Future Constitution, 1928–1935

Paweł Duber



In seizing almost complete control of Polish political life, Piłsudski did not have a clear-cut programme for rebuilding the foundations of political system. Work on this programme, undertaken long before the May Coup, continued for many years, revealing serious divergences of opinion among the Marshal’s close associates. The most significant conflicts involved the attempts to give a new shape to the upper house of parliament, to determine the mutual relations between the executive and legislative branch of the state, and to elaborate the procedure for the election of the president.

It is possible to distinguish two phases in the controversy which divided Piłsudski’s adherents. The first, covering the period 1928–30, is connected with the rivalry between Kazimierz Bartel, five-times prime minister during the Sanacja era, and a group of Piłsudski’s close associates called the ‘Colonels’. As it turns out, Bartel went even further in his attempts to impose limitations on parliamentary democracy than the Colonels. However, his proposals failed to receive approval from Piłsudski, and Bartel himself had to retire from public life. The second phase of the aforementioned controversy came in the years 1931–35 and involved deliberations that culminated in the enactment of the April Constitution. Divergences of opinion revealed in the course of these discussions were a factor that accelerated the decomposition of Pisudski’s camp after his death.

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