The European elections in May are seen as a forerunner for the eagerly awaited national elections due by November 2019. As a result, the main opposition parties have formed the European Coalition  to counter the influence of PiS, bringing together Civic Platform and PSL who sit with the EPP, the Socialist SLD, Modern (ALDE), Now and the Green party. According to the PO’s leader Grzegorz Schetyna, the European Coalition will “aim to prevent Poland from leaving the EU and regain the country’s position at the forefront of the European bloc

If this coalition is seen to work it could be repeated for the national elections. The coalition also helps the smaller parties deal with the risk of not meeting the 5% threshold on their own.

On 20 February, the ruling Law and Justice party announced the main candidates (two top spots on each regional list) which will be put forward (see ECR page for more details). The campaign will be headed by Tomasz Poręba, who previously ran the party’s local election campaign

There was a well-publicised meeting in January between PiS chief Jaroslaw Kaczynski and Matteo Salvini, to discuss a new Polish-Italian axis to counter the German-French one. However the likelihood of them both sitting in the same political group seems small due to differences over Russia and which of them would lead such a group.

To add to the changing national scene, a new party called Spring (Wiosna) headed by Poland’s first openly gay politician, Robert Biedron is making waves. He is the former mayor of the northern town of Slupsk and he created the party as a reaction to the ruling right-wing PiS. He is standing on a openly progressive programme of separating church and state, pushing equal pay and has promised to close the coal mines by 2035. He is currently on course to win about 6 seats (11% of the vote) and it’s still unclear whether he would choose to sit with S&D or ALDE. He has been criticised for not joining the European Coalition to counter the PiS. (see Others for more information)

Another link to the Italian political scene is the attempts by the 5 Star Movement to create a wider alliance, including the Polish Kukiz 15 party which is on track to get 3-4 seats.

The lists so far show that some of the most well known MEPs from both PiS and PO are coming back but position on the lists is still being negotiated.

 

Local Elections as an indicator of EP elections

Local elections took place in November and confirmed certain trends in Polish politics, which provide some indicators for the EP elections. The nominal winner was the ruling Law and Justice party (PiS) which improved on its 2014 result, securing more councillors, and the rule in a majority of voivodships (regions). While the Civic Coalition (PO) cemented their position in cities, confirming the urban-rural divide in Poland, PO has lost its foothold in many regional assemblies. The Civic Coalition took 7 voivodships to the north and west, while eastern and southern regions are considered the electoral stronghold of PiS – confirming divisions from previous elections. These trends are unlikely to change ahead of the EP elections.

However the expectations for PiS were much higher – especially in urban areas, which remain out of the party’s reach, suggesting problems for future elections. Although PiS managed to secure coalition partners in Regional Assemblies and Local Councils, a coalition with the PSL or independent candidates remains unlikely for the EP elections. Local politicians tend not to share a common view point with party leadership and are more likely to cave into unsanctioned coalitions – PSL and SLD leaders banned members from joining forces with PiS.

The local elections influenced the composition of certain Ministries, the parliament and the European Parliament – MEP Bogdan Wenta will be replaced by former MP Bogusław Sonik. Unsuccessful candidates are likely to run in the 2019 EP elections.

The Polish left suffered a big loss in the local election, with SLD, Together (Razem), and the Greens getting jointly less than 10%. Expectations of a SLD comeback failed to materialise and now the left has to fight for survival in the 2019 EP race.

In terms of plans for the European elections, the view in the Civic Coalition is that it needs to include a wider array of parties and political movements. Already, the Civic Coalition has absorbed the Modern party. The decisive factor for strategic plans for the opposition will now be the potential involvement of Donald Tusk as a supporting figure for the opposition. Sources within the opposition have suggested that a thaw in relations between Schetyna and Tusk has taken place after the second round of the local elections. Tusk has supposedly made the decision to become involved in a non-official capacity before the 2019 parliamentary elections. If the PO, under the Civic Coalition banner, wins in 2019, Tusk will officially return to Polish politics and run in the 2020 presidential election.

 

Projections:

EPP (22 MEPs)

The main Polish opposition parties have formed a joint list to counter the influence of…

S&D (5 MEPs)

Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) - Originates from the former communist party PZPR.. Former…

ECR (18 MEPs)

The PiS campaign will be headed by Tomasz Poręba, who previously ran the party’s local…

Other

Danuta Hubner, former European Commissioner and Chairman of the Constitutional Affairs…

Politycy #PiS jutro (23.04) w mediach:
09:25 @tvp_info - @r_czarnecki
13:30 @PolskieRadio24 - @SzSz_velSek

Politycy #PiS jutro (23.04) w mediach:
07:37 @RepublikaTV - @r_czarnecki
08:02 @Radio_ZET - @PatrykJaki
08:10 @tvp_info - @JoannaLichocka
08:15 #TVP1 - @WaszczykowskiW
08:45 @Radio__Plus - @PatrykJaki
09:10 @tvp_info - @SzSz_velSek

Politycy #PiS dziś (22.04) w mediach:
19:57 @tvp_info - @D_Piontkowski
20:00 @PolsatNewsPL - J. #Dziedziczak
20:10 @tvp_info - @TeresaWargocka

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