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Polish Election Results

, by Caroline Boule

Tuesday 27th October, Polish PKW published the results of last Sunday’s legislative elections. With 61% of the seats in the Senate and a standalone majority in the Sejm, the social conservative party PiS has left behind its principal opposition, the outgoing party PO. Polish policy will therefore change entirely.

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The official and final results present Prawo i Sprawiedliwosc (PiS) as the winning party gaining 235 seats in the Sejm with 37.58% of votes. Second place is held by Platforma Obywatelska (PO) with 128 seats and support of 24.09% while Kukiz’15 was sustained by 8.81 % of the voting and received 42 seats. Apart from those parties the Sejm will also include Nowoczesna (28 seats), PSL (16 seats) and Mniejszosc Niemiecka (1 seat).

Surprisingly the Left-wing parties will not be represented in the newly formed government shifting the Liberal Right-wing party PO to the left side of the political chessboard. “We could feel that a change was coming for a long time. The profundity of this change was in some way a surprise” former Polish President, Aleksander Kwasniewski commented in ‘Wyborcza’. He was not hiding his disappointment facing the defeat of the left.

The victory of PiS and their overwhelming majority in Parliament may well be caused by the rise of new parties such as Nowoczesna which caused a depreciation of PO and the feeling there was actually an alternative to PiS or PO. Moreover after a PO government for 8 years, Poles were calling for change.

“A shift which will necessarily be for the worse, it is a clear Euroscepticism, rather clear germanophobia of this country and rather clear reinforcement of xenophobic emotions, which we saw in the refugees’ context” commented the main editor of Gazeta Wyborcza Adam Michnik on the prognosis of the elections. This conclusion is endorsed by the nationalist character of PiS politics. Claiming a reinforcement of Polish sovereignty and displaying a clear Euroscepticism, the new government’s position may lead to a distancing from Brussels, Berlin and pro-European Countries. Polish foreign policy might as well try to step closer towards the US in order to reinforce Poland against the ‘danger’ represented for PiS by Russia.

Vladimir Putin‘s representative reacted to Polish elections declaring that the Kremlin respects the choice of Polish electors while Dmitry Peskov pointed out his ‘regrets’ for Polish-Russian relations which ‘are not in the best state’. Learning about the results of Polish elections, European media did not react in a very positive way either. While French television calls the winners of Sunday’s elections, Beata Szydło and Jaroslaw Kaczynski, “the daughter of a miner” and “the master of political intrigues”, the Italian Press writes about the government of expected “populist and Eurosceptic ultranationalists”. Robin Lautenbach stresses that after France, Poland is actually the most important German partner but ten years ago under Kaczynski’s (PiS) government, the Prime Minister “continuously provoked political affairs in foreign policy and strongly damaged Polish relations with Germany and the EU”. For Lautenbach, PiS could be compared to Victor Orban’s government.

On the domestic side PiS promised many changes such as the new social programme “Rodzina 500 plus” a funding of 500zl per month promised to families for their second and each following child. Families with income of less than 800zl per month will receive this aid even for their first child. Senior Poles over 75 years old will also be provided free medicine. Sustainment of Polish families will as well be supported by an increase of tax free income until 8000zl, a lowering of the retirement age, an increase of the minimal salary per hour and the announce of a new National Employment Programme. These expensive social promises are to be covered by a modification of the current taxes. Will they be able to keep all the promises made?

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P.S.

Clarifications made to distinguish between lower house (Sejm) and upper house (Senate).

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