Parliamentary Elections in Poland: Sour Victory for Law and Justice?

Polsat News Live
  • The victory of the Law and Justice Party (PiS) and their return to power after eight years of the Civic Platform’s (PO) domination is the most probable scenario.

  • Small parties will decide who will be governing Poland after the 25th of October

  • Right wing oriented policies with a lot of populism can be expected after the election.

  • Political instability and early elections in 2016 can be expected

In the latest pools, the Law and Justice (the party of Jaroslaw Kaczynski) is receiving support ranging from 36% (IPSOS) to 34% (CBOS). At the same time the Civic Platform (former Donald Tusk party, now lead by Polish Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz) is receiving between 27% (CBOS) to 22% (IPSOS) of potential voters support. President Andrzej Duda will probably entrust Beata Szydło, the Law and Justice leading candidate, with the mission to form the new government after the elections. The. Law and Justice party will most likely not be able to govern on its own and Mrs. Szydło will be forced to search for coalition partners.

The first candidate for coalition with the PiS is Pawel Kukiz, former rock star and currently a populist politician without a coherent program. However, his position in the election polls is, falling down, oscillating between 5 to 8% of support. It is even possible that his party will not be able to cross the threshold of 5%.

The Polish People’s Party (PSL) is another possible candidate for the coalition with the PiS. Current coalition partner of the Civic Platform (PO) is the most pragmatic and flexible party in Poland representing mostly small towns and villages. PSL has been the swinging party after many elections. Although Janusz Piechociński, the leader of the PSL, proclaimed he will not enter into coalition with the PiS, such combination cannot be completely ruled out, as well as the coalition with the incumbent partner PO.

Even if the PiS wins the election, the Civic Platform might still be capable of forming the coalition of “everybody against the Law and Justice”. This scenario would be preferred, if Kukiz does not reach the 5% threshold, while the Polish People´s Party, the United Left and the Modern do. Then, the Civic Platform can manage to persuade these smaller parties and stay in power for four more years.

All these scenarios remain highly unpredictable, since three other parties apart from Kukiz are struggling to win their seats in the Parliament: the Polish People´s Party is receiving 5% according to IPSOS or else 3% according to CBOS, socialists from the United Left gain 8% (IPSOS) or 6% (CBOS) and liberals from the Modern gain 4% (IPSOS) or else 7% (CBOS). The election results of small parties will decide who will be governing Poland after the 25th of October.

Beata Szydło, a person without substantial experience in exercising highest offices, will become the future prime minister. She was picked up as the election leader owing to her less radical personality, as compared to Jarosław Kaczyński, the chairman of the PiS.

The coalition lead by the Law and Justice would mark a change in the foreign policy, though not as dramatic as in 2005–2007. Euroscepticism, transatlantic alliance, assertive policy towards Russia and Germany and Poland outside the Euro zone represent the key elements of the Law and Justice’s foreign policy.

The biggest change would probably come in the economic policies. The PiS insisted on social slogans and populism with far-reaching consequences for Poland. Beata Szydło promised to decrease the retirement age while also promising to increase the spending on defense to 3% of GDP. Moreover, she wants to pay special allowances for every child and increase the tax-free allowance as well as the minimum wage. Public deficits, budget instability and growing sovereign debt will burden the next generations.

The second scenario of a broad coalition lead by the Civic Platform also implies more problems than solutions: it would be very difficult to find common program denominators among the Polish People´s Party, the United Left and the Modern Party. Such a coalition could last, but without implementing any reforms. In terms of the foreign policy, the current line of the government would be maintained.

The latest TV debates of party leaders confirmed the weakness of Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz. She lost the TV battle both with Beata Szydło and the others candidates. Rhetorically she is definitely weaker than Donald Tusk. The performance of two young politicians – Barbara Nowacka, the new leader of the United Left, and Ryszard Petru, the leader of the Modern Party – is worth noticing. They are both fresh faces with an impressive ability to speak in public based on substantial preparation. If a big coalition results from the election negotiations, they could both play an important role in the future government.

For liberal circles in Europe, the most interesting phenomenon is Nowoczesna (Modern), the new Ryszard Petru’s party. It is the first time since 2004 when Union of Freedom lead by Bronislaw Geremek entered the European Parliament that a truly liberal party in Poland was able to make a successful jump over the 5% threshold. The party is still too much organized as a one men show, which can cause problems in sustaining the party in the long run… Petru is attacked for his close ties with the banking sector. His Modern party offers a very reasonable program of economic and administrative reforms. In the last months Nowoczesna has also launched liberal program with some key ideas and social issues.

The biggest threat for the Modern party might paradoxically become entering the government. In a big coalition with the Civic Platform and the United Left, the Modern Party´s liberal credibility could suffer. As a junior coalition member, the Modern party would hardly be able to push its program through.

Despite the likely win of the PiS, the Polish election is going to open large space of uncertainty. Minority government of the Law and Justice might be the outcome. However, such government would not be able to rule the country for long and the next early elections could be expected as early as in 2016.