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Landscape before the battle. Poland before the elections to the European Parliament

 


 

Three elections are in store for Poles in the near future: for the European Parliament on 26 May of this year, for the Sejm and Senate in the autumn, and the presidential elections in May 2020. In this context, the EP elections will be a test before the elections to the national parliament. Six election committees satisfied the formal procedures in EP elections (collecting at least 10 thousand signatures in 7 out of 13 constituencies). There is no doubt that the fight for victory will take place between the centre-right government coalition - the United Right - and the opposition liberal-left European Coalition. So far polls have shown that the United Right is in for a victory. Third place in the polls is taken by a new party - Spring, founded and led by a declared homosexual and former president of the city of Słupsk, with more than 90,000 residents, Robert Biedroń. The black horse of the European elections could turn out to be a right-wing, anti-EU coalition called Confederation, bringing together liberal, conservative and national groups. Exceeding the 5% electoral threshold would lead to a change in the functioning of the political system. The success of the Confederation could jeopardise Law and Justice. A party would be formed to the right of this party, which would take away the monopoly on conservative voters from the party led by Jarosław Kaczyński.

According to the polls, support for the United Right (Law and Justice and its allies - United Poland and Agreement) is in the range of 35-40 percent. The Civic Coalition has a few percent less support in the polls. 7-10 percent of voters declare their support for Spring. 4-7% of the voters declared their support for the Kukiz`15 party and 4-5% for the Confederation.

The Law and Justice campaign is based on the achievements of the government lead by Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and the introduction of social programmes. Since July this year the Law and Justice party has increased the 500+ programme (PLN 500 per month for each, even the first child), the "thirteenth" programme in the form of the lowest pension - PLN 1100 for every pensioner.

Jarosław Kaczyński, president of the Law and Justice party, has entered into talks with the leaders of European right-wing parties, with the intention not only to emphasize the ideological proximity and herald possible cooperation in the future European Parliament, but also as part of an electoral strategy aimed at winning the hard right-wing electorate. At the beginning of January in Warsaw, Kaczyński met with the Deputy Prime Minister of Italy and leader of the Northern League Matteo Salvini. At the end of March, the President of the Spanish right-wing party Vox Santiago Abascal arrived in Warsaw. At the beginning of April Jarosław Kaczyński met with Giorgio Meloni, head of the Italian national party Fratelli d'Italia. Both Law and Justice and Fratelli d'Italia MEPs are members of the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECC) faction in the European Parliament. A possible alliance of Law and Justice and Northern League MPs in the future EP would bolster the strength of groups that are in favour of a Europe of homelands and against the federalisation of the European Union. However, this cooperation seems unlikely due to, among other things, a different stance towards Russia. The leaders of the Law and Justice party accuse the Northern League and parties that have close relations with it of being pro-Russian. Law and Justice leaders exclude the possibility of cooperation with the French National Federation of Marine Le Pen. Kaczyński once declared that his party was as far away from Le Pen as it was from Putin.

The Law and Justice electoral programme called "European Declaration" was published during one of the pre-election conventions. It contains 12 points. It announces the European Union's return to the values proclaimed by its creators and the defence of the right of parents to raise their children. The Law and Justice party declares to take action to promote the interests of Polish farmers and equal treatment of Polish companies on the European market, ensuring Poland and Europe's energy security. The Law and Justice party is in favour of protecting the EU's external borders, providing assistance in conflict zones and expressing its opposition to illegal immigration.

The European Coalition (Civic Platform, Polish People's Party, Democratic Left Alliance, Modern, The Greens) in the first phase of the campaign to the European Parliament announced that Law and Justice is seeking polexit. However, this rhetoric did not bring the expected results because the allegation of Poland's exit from the European Union in relation to the Law and Justice party is untrue. The European Coalition also raised issues related to the alleged failure of the Polish government to respect the principles of the rule of law and the constitution. This tactic was part of the European Commission's activities, which for many months has been accusing the Polish authorities of failing to respect the rule of law in connection with the reform of the judicial system. Support for the Civic Coalition was provided by the former Prime Minister of the Polish government, President of the European Council Donald Tusk. On 3 May at the University of Warsaw he delivered a speech “Hope and responsibility. On the constitution, Europe and free elections”. Vice President of the European Commission, Frans Timmermans, was also involved in the European Parliament elections in Poland. At election meetings he supported the representatives of the post-communist Democratic Left Alliance and the Spring Party.

The European Coalition is composed of both parties belonging to the European People's Party (PO and PSL) and the European Socialist Party (SLD). The leaders of the European Coalition signed, accompanied by the EU anthem "Ode to Joy", the declaration "The Future of Poland. The Big Choice." Among the ten programme points were the following: Poland among the leaders of the European Union; European Funds for citizens and local governments; Union of better food and equal opportunities for agriculture; Union of healthy and longer life; Union for equal living standards for Europeans; European Union of values; European Union for young people; Union of common safety; Union of clean air and cheap energy; Union of transport and communication cohesion.

The Spring Party, which came into being a few months ago, presented a package of its proposals, which included, among other things, the right to terminate pregnancy up the 12th week, unrestricted access to contraception, including the 'day after' pill. Spring supports the demands of the homosexual political movement, including the legalization of same-sex unions. Biedroń, the party leader joined the anticlerical campaign launched in Poland by the extreme left-wing circles, the Civic Platform and the Modern Anticlerical Campaign, postulating, among other things, the abolition of legal provisions protecting religious feelings of believers.

Thanks to liberal media, including the publication on the Internet of a film by a private, commercial television station, the issue of combating paedophilia in the Church has become one of the most important elements of the campaign to the European Parliament. The leader of Spring wants to appoint a special parliamentary committee for paedophilia in the Church. However, it does not seem possible that the campaign against the Church, including the profanation of the image of Our Lady of Czestochowa disseminated in many places by extreme left-wing and anti-Christian circles, could have an impact on election results. European Commission deputy head Frans Timmermans is due to reappear in the final phase of Spring’s campaign.

The fourth place in the polls is taken by Kukiz`15, which has formed an alliance with the Five Star Movement, which is co-ruling in Italy. Paweł Kukiz presented his programme in Rome in the presence of Luigi Di Maio, leader of the Five Star Movement. Kukiz`15 declares a reform of the European Union. The postulates of this group include fight against corruption, direct democracy, e-democracy, rejection of artificial divisions between the right and the left, reform of EU institutions - strengthening the position of the European Parliament and environmental protection.

The Confederation associating groups from those who accept Poland's presence in the EU and strive for its reform to those who support withdrawal from the EU has a chance to achieve the 5 per cent electoral threshold. The most important role in the Confederation is played by two parties - KORWIN, whose leader is Janusz Korwin Mikke and the National Movement. Janusz Korwin Mikke has been a Member of the European Parliament since 2014. He remains a non-attached Member. At the beginning of 2018, he resigned as a Member of the European Parliament. He said that he was wasting a terrible amount of time in Brussels "and I think the EU should be destroyed," he said.

In turn, the National Movement maintains close contacts with, among others, the Hungarian Movement for a Better Hungary (Jobbik). The Confederacy took up the issue of Jewish claims against Poland. In Warsaw, it organized a demonstration of 20 thousand people under the slogan "No to claims", no to Just Act 447, i.e. the Act adopted by the Congress and the House of Representatives of the United States and signed by President Donald Trump. According to the leaders of the Confederation, international Jewish circles and the Israeli government want to force Poland to pay a huge amount of money for the Jewish property lost as a result of the Holocaust during the German occupation of Polish territory. Both Law and Justice government and the leaders of this group declare that the demands of the Jewish community have no legal or moral basis.

Traditionally, the turnout in Polish elections to the European Parliament was one of the lowest in Europe. In the first EP elections in 2004 it was only 20.9 per cent. In the last elections in 2014 it was 23.83 percent. A lower turnout was recorded only in the Czech Republic (18.20 per cent) and Slovakia (13.05 per cent). To a large extent, the outcome of European Parliament elections will depend on the political parties mobilising their own electorate.

 

 Krzysztof Kawęcki

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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