Siren Song of One Opposition Electoral List in Poland

While the time remaining until the parliamentary elections in Poland is shrinking dramatically, the opposition still cannot decide in what configuration it will go to fight the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, which is gathering wind in its sails. The endless confusion was deepened by the so-called ‘civic poll’, the results of which were to be the crowning argument for “one list”.

However, instead of strengthening the tendencies of the common opposition bloc, they only weakened them. Without prejudging whether one list actually has the greatest chance of changing the power structure in Poland, one should finally accept the brutal truth: such a list will not be created. It will not arise, it will not come true, there is no chance for it. Constant discussion of this topic only strengthens PiS. Currently, there are many indications that the ruling party will form the next government with the Confederation, and without any talk of a joint list

I’m sick of hearing about the “joint list”. The fact that such a list will not be created has been known for a long time. For many weeks it has been clear as day that the Polish People’s Party (PSL) will not go to the elections with the Left. The leaders of the People’s Party spoke about it many times – only that everyone listened, and somehow no one heard it. The ideological difference between the Christian Democratic Polish Coalition, which they laboriously built, and the (partially) united Left turned out to be insurmountable for PSL.

The recent confusion surrounding the accusations of John Paul II’s numerous omissions regarding the issue of pedophilia of priests has deepened this divide even more. The left, however, stubbornly repeats that it is ready for any scenario, with one list at the forefront. Here, I have more respect for the peasants than for the left, which is close to my worldview, for which – as you can see – there is no ideological compromise that it would not be able to accept.

After all, the Left had already been able to reach an agreement with PiS on the National Reconstruction Plan (KPO), which shattered the opposition’s agreement on this fundamental issue for Poland. There was no money from KPO after all, and the left-wing leaders would prefer not to be reminded of this deal.

Despite the invitation to joint participation in the elections by the Civic Platform (PO), Donald Tusk also did a lot to prevent such a list from being created. For example, the declaration of not allowing people on the electoral list who have a different attitude to abortion than the PO leader (he radically changed his opinion on this matter) was not conducive to building a joint electoral bloc with the conservatives (to be clear – I do not assess this decision negatively, I am only stating the facts).

Szymon Hołownia also never wanted a common opposition bloc. He called Tusk’s call for a joint opposition list “wishful thinking” and “tales made of moss and ferns.” After all, the Hołownia party competes with the PO for the same electorate, so the blurring of differences between these parties always works to the advantage of the stronger one. Hołownia knows this and does not want to end up like Ryszard Petru or Janusz Palikot.

A common bloc of opposition parties from the beginning sincerely wanted only the so-called street opposition. At the demonstrations, slogans were almost always chanted about the need for all democratic forces to unite in order to defeat the populists. This postulate seemed intuitive and resulted directly from observations of previous attempts to defeat PiS by the opposition parties.

Since it was impossible to remove the populists from power by running separately, it is worth trying to go to the elections with one large front, which, with the D’Hondt method, would give the best chance of victory. This was confirmed by some surveys, while others gave more chances to other configurations.

After all, until recently, opinion polls predicted the defeat of PiS in almost every variant, even if the opposition parties go to the elections separately. However, only the last so-called ‘citizens’ survey’ showed that only one joint list would allow PiS to be removed from power. In any other case, the opposition is to face another, probably the most devastating, electoral defeat.

Citizens, and above all the “street opposition” mentioned here, have finally obtained the final proof of the merits of their demands, they have received an argument that they can wave in front of confused politicians’ eyes. Unfortunately, numerous experts gave a hammering to this poll. It may even seem to be constructed in such a way that its results agree with a predetermined thesis.

This is bad news for supporters of the joint list. It would be better if there was no such survey at all. The most important thing that can be read from it in this situation is a gloomy picture of inept and quarreling opposition politicians, allegedly completely detached from social reality. It is hard not to notice that this repeated observation is warming the cockles of the hearts of those currently in power. It has an extremely demotivating effect on potential opposition voters.

Therefore, this poll (or rather the publicity it gained) – with the assumption of mobilizing its critics and providing a strong argument for uniting the opposition – fulfilled exactly the opposite role. It extended the never-ending and really tiresome telenovela about “one list”, showed the opposition politicians as dilettantes unable to communicate, unaware of the stakes of the upcoming elections and, as a consequence, caused the power camp to once again catch a strong wind in its sails.

I am convinced that no one knows whether a joint list is really the only way to win over PiS. However, it does not matter and there is no point in wasting more time on such considerations, because for a long time everything has indicated that a single bloc of opposition parties will not be formed for the next election. Therefore, since there will be no joint list, other ways to regain power should be sought.

In fact, such paths should have been laid out a long time ago, and each of the parties (or their electoral alliances based on common values) should have walked briskly and confidently to their goal. Some are already trying to do so, but their leaders are constantly pulled off the trail and questioned about the “common list”.

Therefore, instead of pointing out the inefficiency of the PiS government, the ubiquitous cronyism, high prices, almost 20% inflation, the scandal after the scandal and the deepening arrogance of this power, the representatives of the opposition continue to lose energy in blaming each other for the failure of the idea of ​​a common electoral bloc. To the delight of the ruling party. And there really isn’t any more time to waste, no more room for hamleting. The more so that in recent polls the Confederation party is on the rise, which has a strong and clear stance and hence it does not seem to prey on the PiS electorate.

A future governing coalition of these two right-wing parties now seems the most likely. Few foresaw such a scenario. It seemed that the victory of the democratic opposition was at arm’s length, but it turned out that we would have to fight for it until the very end.

The article was originally published in Polish at:

Translated by Olga Łabendowicz

Photo: Jan SteenGamblers’ Quarrel (ca. 1665)

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