Parliamentary elections will be held in Poland on Sunday. It is expected that there will be a close race between the current ruling Law and Justice Party and the opposition Civic Platform Party led by former Prime Minister Donald Tusk.
PiS en Burgerplatform gaan redelijk gelijk op in de peilingen. PiS staat momenteel op 31 tot 36 procent en Burgerplatform volgt op enkele procentpunten. Kleinere partijen zullen zondag de doorslag geven. Zowel PiS als Burgerplatform zal die nodig hebben om een regeringscoalitie te vormen.
Een absolute meerderheid, zoals PiS die nu heeft, zit er waarschijnlijk niet in. Volgens deskundigen is de kans groot dat er een ingewikkeld en moeizaam formatieproces volgt na de verkiezingen, welke partij ook de meeste stemmen behaalt.
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Although the elections themselves are expected to be fair (for example, there are EU observers to monitor the process), PiS made things easier for itself during the campaign period. State media and media controlled by PiS friends publish almost exclusively negative reports about Tusk. He is portrayed as an enemy of the people controlled by foreign forces.
PiS is also organizing a referendum at the same time as the elections on topics such as immigration and retirement age – interests through which the party wants to attract more voters to the polls.
However, Tusk is not at all without opportunity. At the beginning of this month, he began a protest against the government, which was responded to en masse. About one million people are said to have taken to the streets. Tusk said of the demonstration: “When I see hundreds of thousands of smiling faces, I feel that there is a breakthrough waiting for us in the history of our country.”
“The most important elections since 1989”
The Law and Justice Party took power in 2015 and will run for a third term on Sunday. Jaroslaw Kaczynski’s nationalist conservative party has an international reputation for restricting LGBTQ+ rights and eroding the rule of law.
That’s why Sunday’s election is also considered the most important in recent decades. Tusk even described last week’s elections as “the most important since 1989.” This is the year in which the communist regime in Poland fell and the country became a democratic constitutional state.
But under the Law and Justice Party, that democratic constitutional state has faced difficult times. Over the past eight years, the party has regularly clashed with the European Union over the appointment of party-friendly judges. In addition, the party worked to ensure that more and more of the country’s media became supportive of PiS.
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Despite the many billions flowing from Brussels to Warsaw, including from the Coronavirus Recovery Fund, the EU has been an important scapegoat for PiS for years. Therefore, the party directly opposes the conservative liberal civic program led by Tusk. The former Polish Prime Minister was President of the European Council between 2014 and 2019 and presents himself as a strong supporter of the European Union in the current elections.
In addition to strengthening relations with Brussels, Tusk says he wants to restore “democratic freedoms.” He also wants to overturn PiS’s near-total abortion ban, as well as restrict the rights of the LGBT community.
Brussels will follow the elections with interest
The Polish elections are scheduled to be followed by additional attention from Brussels on Sunday, because Poland has played an increasingly important role within the European Union in recent years. Because of the war in Ukraine – Poland hosts at least two million refugees – the focus has increasingly turned to Central Europe.
In addition, Poland has one of the best armies in the European Union, and the country is becoming increasingly influential economically. Therefore, in times of war on European borders, it becomes difficult for the EU to be tough on Poland’s erosion of the rule of law.
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