29 million Polish voters are expected to exercise their right to vote today in the legislative elections. The populist Law and Justice party (PiS), which is currently in power, will get the highest number of votes according to the polls.
These legislative elections promise to be close because they are considered important for the future of the country’s relationship with the European Union (EU) and neighboring Ukraine.
According to polls, the populist Law and Justice party (PiS, in power) will get the most votes. However, he risks having difficulties in forming a governing coalition, opening the way for the opposition led by former European Council chief Donald Tusk.
A PiS victory could exacerbate tensions in Brussels and Kyiv and frustrate those worried about the future of the rule of law, freedom of the press, women’s rights, and migrant rights.
We have ceded some powers to the EU, but that’s enough, nothing more. We are in the EU, we want to stay there, but in an EU of sovereign nations, repeated Jaroslaw Kaczynski, head of PiS, at the party’s last rally on Friday.
During their last meeting, Donald Tusk said PiS had “hidden plans” to leave the EU and was “leading the country in the wrong direction”. “This is the most important day in the history of our democracy since 1989,” insisted Donald Tusk.
We will vote for Poland to stay in the EU. Poland is the heart of Europe.
Personal attack against Donald Tusk
PiS has vowed to press ahead with its controversial reforms to the justice system which it claims aim to stamp out corruption but which the EU sees as an attack on democracy.
A coalition partner for PiS could be the Confederation, a far-right party that wants to end massive aid to Ukraine and has campaigned on an anti-immigrant and anti-European agenda.
However, the Confederation has rejected such an alliance and some analysts say it is unlikely due to simmering tensions between the two parties.
Centrists hope that even if Donald Tusk’s Civic Coalition comes second, the number of votes collected will be enough to form a government with two possible minor allies, the Left and the Third Way.
The elections affect both houses of parliament, the Diet and the Senate. PiS held a referendum on the same day, with questions about immigrants and the economy, which the opposition called a boycott.
PiS supporters say Sunday’s victory will allow the party to realize its vision of a powerful and sovereign Poland, based on traditional Catholic values.
The campaign was marked by violent personal attacks against Donald Tusk by those in power, who accused him of working for the interests of Berlin, Moscow, and Brussels.
An election scrutinized by Kyiv and its Western allies
Many voters said they were angered by the harsh tone of the campaign.
“I want a better Poland than today. I want my children to live in a free, democratic, and smiling country,” said Beata Myszkiewicz, a 53-year-old self-employed worker. “I don’t want people to look at each other like dogs because their political opinions are different.”
Kyiv and its Western allies are closely watching these elections, after the recent elections in Slovakia of an anti-government that will help Ukraine.
Poland is one of Kyiv’s main supporters and has welcomed a million Ukrainian refugees to its soil, but fatigue is growing among the Poles.
The government fell in Ukraine after declaring a ban on the import of its grain, arguing that it was necessary to protect Polish farmers.
According to Marcin Zaborowski, an expert at the Globsec think tank, with this stance PiS wants to attract nationalist votes. “After the elections, it may be too late to reverse this decision, because the damage will already be done,” he warned.