What do the Polish elections teach us?

The bag of tricks of populist politicians in Central and Eastern Europe is not endless. Peter Vermeersch (51, University of Leuven), professor of international politics, takes this lesson from the Polish elections. “Voters recognized Jaroslaw Kaczynski’s ploy to manipulate the election.”

Peter Geurts

It is not entirely a coincidence that international politics professor Peter Vermeersch (University of Leuven) is in Warsaw these days. “I am conducting research on how Ukrainian and Belarusian refugees in Poland view their own situation,” says Vermeersch. “This is of course why I analyze elections.”

Who is the real winner of the elections? The ruling conservative Law and Justice Party will remain the largest party with about 36%, according to opinion polls.

However, it is clear that the opposition is winning. The Law and Justice Party does not have an absolute majority. And opposition parties, including Kowalica Obiwatilska, or the Civic Coalition Former Prime Minister and former European Council President Donald Tusk is the senior, and does not want to join a government with PiS.

“What is important is the huge gain made by Trzecia Droga, or the Third Way. As a coalition of different parties, it had to reach an electoral threshold of 8 percent. If that does not work, the opposition parties will not get a majority. Also interesting is the result of the “Far-right Confederaja. For a long time, this seemed like a lifeline for PiS. Not only has the party performed worse than expected, but he also says he does not want to cooperate with PiS. So PiS is retreating.”

Jarosław Kaczyński’s (M) Law and Justice (PiS) party has cut its own skin. It has just encouraged many other citizens to vote against PiS,” notes Peter Vermeersch.AP photo

It also backed down from the referendum that the government organized in conjunction with the elections.

“The referendum asked four main questions, aimed at legitimizing the current government’s policy (It was about strategic economic sectors, retirement age, border with Belarus and immigration, PG). Despite the historical High turnout in the elections – more than 70 percent of Poles voted – only 40 percent participated in the referendum.

“Citizens discovered the trick of PiS leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski to manipulate the elections through the referendum.” See through. This is good news for the maturity of democracy in Poland. In fact, PiS has cut its skin. It did not attract any new voters, but it clearly motivated many other citizens To vote against the Law and Justice Party.

“I personally think the failure of the referendum is good news. For a long time it seemed like a bag of tricks for politicians like Kaczynski and Viktor Orbán.” (Prime Minister of Hungary, PG) He was inexhaustible. They have repeatedly managed to strengthen their position of power through campaigns that violate the truth. Clearly there are limits to this approach.

What does the huge turnout teach us?

“Many Poles are tired of the PiS government and want something different. You can also see this if you break down the poll results by age. The classic PiS constituency in the old rural areas of Poland still votes for this party. However, New and young voters are voting for the opposition in large numbers.

“It is striking that young voters mostly voted for the left. Although the far right is also gaining some popularity among young voters. So I do not think that Europe can now be completely confident about the restoration of democracy in Poland and the way election campaigns are being run in Poland.” Central Europe. But young people are no longer choosing PiS. This makes me conclude that the days of PiS will eventually come. “It’s been counted.”

Under the current government, Poland has moved away from Europe. Is this result a harbinger of a turn back?

“I wouldn’t call it a turning point, rather a slow development. A large group of voters has remained loyal to PiS. You only see this turning point among voters under the age of thirty. However, it can be said that if Tusk succeeds in forming a government, Poland will adopt a completely different attitude towards Europe.”

How far can he go? The current government has turned the media into a propaganda machine and has deployed its men everywhere.

“This is indeed the great difficulty that Tusk faces now. He has overcome the first hurdle. I also see him facing the second hurdle, which is to form a government. After that it becomes more difficult. The opposition parties have found a common enemy in PiS. They have different views on how to The progress of matters after the formation of the government.

“Do not forget that Andrzej Duda will be President of Poland until the presidential elections in 2025. He can block laws through presidential veto.”

What do these elections teach us about the far right in Europe?

“This is a very difficult question and I don’t have a ready answer to it. I don’t think we should make the mistake of comparing all far-right parties to each other. In some countries it’s a chaotic mess, in others it’s a well-organized party with tight online campaigns.” .

“What catches my attention is that in addition to the far right and the populist right, there are also new left-wing parties It is more visible on the map in many Central and Eastern European countries. It is not a return of the Social Democrats as a party to power. But on the margins, there is growing support for new progressive parties, which do well among young urban voters, especially on moral issues, and then link this to a left-wing social and economic agenda.

The pro-European opposition wins a majority according to partial results

Poland’s pro-European opposition, led by Tusk, won a majority in Sunday’s Polish parliamentary elections. This is evident in the partial results published on Monday, after 80 percent of the votes were counted.

Partial results show that the ruling Law and Justice Party is leading by 37%, but did not achieve a majority. Together, the liberal-conservative Civic Coalition led by Donald Tusk, the left-wing Luika coalition, and the conservative Christian Third Way achieved more than 52% of the vote.

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