FREE NEWSLETTER: Econintersect sends a nightly newsletter highlighting news events of the day, and providing a summary of new articles posted on the website. Econintersect will not sell or pass your email address to others per our privacy policy. You can cancel this subscription at any time by selecting the unsubscribing link in the footer of each email.

posted on 28 October 2015

How Poland's Political Landscape Was Redrawn Overnight

from The Conversation

-- this post authored by Simona Guerra, University of Leicester and Fernando Casal Bértoa, University of Nottingham

With the results of Poland's parliamentary election finally in, the Law and Justice (PiS), the nationalist conservative Eurosceptic party of the notorious Kaczyński twins, has won with 37.6% of the vote. It was trailed by the incumbent market-liberal and socially conservative Civic Platform (PO), which managed only a very weak 24.1%.

There was some good news for Poland's three smaller parties. Two of them are new: the populist Kukiz'15, led by former presidential candidate and rock-star Paweł Kukiz, which won 39 seats in the 460-member lower house; and Modern (.N), a pro-market and socially liberal party founded just five months before the vote by economist Ryszard Petru, which won 31 seats.

Then, with 5.13% of the vote, there's the agrarian Polish People's Party (PSL), currently the junior party in the losing PO-led coalition and the only party to have sat in every single Polish parliament since 1991. The German Minority is expected to have secured two seats.

Although PiS' victory is not in itself surprising - Jarosław Kaczyński's party has been at the top of every poll for the last five months - the strength of its performance certainly is.

High and low

This is the first time since Poland's first free and fair democratic parliamentary elections in 1991 that a single electoral bloc has managed to win an outright parliamentary majority. PiS also performed well across almost the entire country, flying in the face of the traditional divide between liberal western Poland and the more conservative east. It won in almost all voivodeships (states), including PO strongholds such as Mazowieckie, including Warsaw, driving the PO back into only Opolskie and Pomorskie.

PiS also has a strikingly broad voter base. Exit polls released by IPSOS on Sunday night show that it has been particularly successful among those who have only primary and lower secondary education and vocational training, those living in small villages, the unemployed and pensioners - but it still outperforms PO among almost all social and occupational groups.

Then there's the youth vote. Deeply disaffected with the government, only 13.10% of students voted for PO, young people most turned to PiS (24.90%), Kukiz15 (20.90%) or the hard-right Eurosceptic Coalition for the Renewal of the Republic (KORWiN) (21.20%). Poland's young people face high unemployment and many have not benefited from the country's positive relatively stable economy; they are inclined to support any chance of change, whatever it might be, as long as it favours Poland and the Polish people first and foremost. That makes the PiS message highly appealing despite its conservatism.

Even more surprising is the defeat of the Democratic Left Alliance, the SLD - built from the remains of the old Communist left - which ran the country from 2001-5. Despite forming an alliance with four other parties of the left, it won an even smaller vote share than its disastrous 8.24% of the vote in 2011, and failed to pass the threshold required to get into parliament at all.

Combined with PiS's surprisingly even support, this is surely the final nail in the coffin of the post-communist divide that characterised Polish politics between 1989 and 2005. As a result, the elections have all but gutted the left wing of the Polish parliament. With the exception of the PSL, a socially economic but Christian-democratic party that mostly represents farmers, all the other political forces in the forthcoming parliament are essentially on the right: both .N and PO are liberal, PiS is conservative, and Kukiz'15 populist radical-right.

Poland isn't Ireland

Even as late as mid-April 2015, the PO had an almost 10-point lead over PiS. So how on earth did it manage to lose?

Laid low: the PO prime minister, Ewa Kopacz. Reuters/Kacper Pempel

One of the reasons is that Poland's relatively secure macro-economic situation has made no difference in the pockets of average Poles. Employment and job protection is precarious, salaries are low, prices have gone up and the quality of public services is well below par.

On top of that, the outgoing government passed unpopular pension reforms, raised the retirement age from 65 to 67, lowered the school starting age from seven to six and failed to tackle the social problems caused by the wave of emigration among young people - especially to the UK.

As the PiS wasted no time pointing out, the PO clearly failed to convert Poland into another Ireland, a leitmotif it relied on heavily in the 2011 campaign, while concerns on immigration and the refugee crisis are looming ever larger. Also, during its eight years in government, the PO has been hit by an array of scandals, including suspicions of corruption, (including by its PSL partners), state abuse (the so-called "tape affair") and mismanagement of government resources. At the same time, the PO has lost a lot of appeal since its founder Donald Tusk, former Polish premier, left to become the president of the European Council.

Last but not least, ever since his surprise victory in the May 2015 presidential election, Poland's president, Andrzej Duda, has been supporting the PiS' campaign - if not directly, then at least indirectly, providing a stream of criticism and confrontational statements directed at the PO government.

So overnight, this result gutted the Polish left, humiliated an established government and for once seen a party win support the length and breadth of the country. Poland's political landscape is, suddenly, almost unrecognisable.

The ConversationSimona Guerra, Lecturer in Politics, University of Leicester and Fernando Casal Bértoa, Nottingham Research Fellow (politics), University of Nottingham

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

>>>>> Scroll down to view and make comments <<<<<<

Click here for Historical News Post Listing

Make a Comment

Econintersect wants your comments, data and opinion on the articles posted.  As the internet is a "war zone" of trolls, hackers and spammers - Econintersect must balance its defences against ease of commenting.  We have joined with Livefyre to manage our comment streams.

To comment, using Livefyre just click the "Sign In" button at the top-left corner of the comment box below. You can create a commenting account using your favorite social network such as Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn or Open ID - or open a Livefyre account using your email address.

You can also comment using Facebook directly using he comment block below.

Econintersect Contributors


Print this page or create a PDF file of this page
Print Friendly and PDF

The growing use of ad blocking software is creating a shortfall in covering our fixed expenses. Please consider a donation to Econintersect to allow continuing output of quality and balanced financial and economic news and analysis.

Take a look at what is going on inside of
Main Home
Analysis Blog
Finance and Growth: The Direction of Causality
Minsky’s Theory of Asset Prices: Why Minsky Was NOT a Neo-Monetarist
News Blog
Astronomers Spot Strange, Bow-like Structure In Venus' Atmosphere
Raising A Child Is An Extremely Expensive Undertaking
The World's Staggering Wealth Divide
What We Read Today 19 January 2017
OK Go - The One Moment - Official Video
January 2017 Philly Fed Manufacturing Survey Significantly Improves and Remains In Expansion.
December 2016 Residential Building Sector Mixed
14 January 2017 Initial Unemployment Claims Rolling Average Improvement Continues
Stock Market Bull Faces Important Test
Infographic Of The Day: Movies That Struck Oil
Early Headlines: Asia Stocks Mixed, Dollar Steady, Oil Up, Top US Poll Priority Is Health Care, Tough Questions For Tom Price, Russia Has Buyer's Remorse, Mexico Fears Trump And More
Documentary Of The Week: Value And Thermodynamics
Can Serena Make It 23
Investing Blog Technical Summary 19 January 2017
Technical Nuggets: Is There A Trump-Air Pocket Ahead?
Opinion Blog
What Is The Natural Interest Rate - And What If We Go Above It?
A New Deal With Capitalism Requires A Revolution In Politics And Markets
Precious Metals Blog
Four Catalysts Drive Gold And Silver For 2017
Live Markets
19Jan2017 Market Close: Wall Street Closes Down Fractionally On Lackluster Investor Participation Ahead Of Tomorrow's Presidential Inauguration, George Soros Said That Global Markets Will Falter
Amazon Books & More

.... and keep up with economic news using our dynamic economic newspapers with the largest international coverage on the internet
Asia / Pacific
Middle East / Africa
USA Government



Analysis Blog
News Blog
Investing Blog
Opinion Blog
Precious Metals Blog
Markets Blog
Video of the Day


Asia / Pacific
Middle East / Africa
USA Government

RSS Feeds / Social Media

Combined Econintersect Feed

Free Newsletter

Marketplace - Books & More

Economic Forecast

Content Contribution



  Top Economics Site Contributor TalkMarkets Contributor Finance Blogs Free PageRank Checker Active Search Results Google+

This Web Page by Steven Hansen ---- Copyright 2010 - 2017 Econintersect LLC - all rights reserved