Tuesday

19th Feb 2019

Populist right-wingers set to win Polish election

Final surveys ahead of Sunday’s (25 October) elections in Poland show the right-wing Law and Justice party surging ahead, in a development which could spell trouble for Polish solvency and EU relations.

A survey by CBOS on Friday put Law and Justice on 40.5 percent, ahead of the incumbent centre-right Civic Platform on 28.4 percent.

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A parallel survey, by TNS, put Law and Justice on 32.5 percent and Civic Platform on 26.3 percent.

The third-place party, Kukiz15, led by a rock star, Pawel Kukiz, who is calling for constitutional reform, is polling at 7.2 percent to 10.4 percent.

Law and Justice is most popular among working class, rural, and church-going voters in eastern Poland.

It has promised to lower the retirement age, boost child support, increase the minimum wage, and lower income tax, while levying extra taxes on banks and supermarket chains.

It has attacked Civic Platform for agreeing to take in Syrian refugees under an EU scheme.

It has also, over the past eight years of Civic Platform rule, depicted it as a German and Russian “lapdog”.

The Law and Justice chief, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, recently said refugees will bring “diseases” and “parasites”.

He said in the past that Civic Platform colluded with Russia to cover up the truth behind the Smolensk air disaster in 2012.

Law and Justice's official candidate, Beata Szydlo, a coal miner’s daughter, said on Monday that Poland was wrong to show EU solidarity on migrants because Germany betrayed Poland by building the Nordstream II gas pipeline with Russia.

Andrzej Duda, Poland’s new president, who also hails from Law and Justice, has said Germany should include Poland in Ukraine peace talks and drop opposition to Nato bases in Poland.

Meanwhile, Civic Platform’s popularity has waned amid feeling that its austerity policies favour the urban elite and foreign investors.

Its image suffered in the “waitergate” scandal last year, when top ministers were bugged in fancy restaurants making shady political deals and using language laced with vulgarities.

It also lost its figurehead, Donald Tusk, to Brussels, when he became the EU Council chief, leaving the election race to the less charismatic Ewa Kopacz.

The campaigning will draw to a halt at midnight on Friday, when a pre-vote silent period kicks in.

The 30.7 million Poles who are eligilble to vote will cast their ballots between 7am and 9pm local time on Sunday, with exit polls due shortly afterward.

For his part, Kukiz, a likely Law and Justice coalition partner, has found a way to beat the silent rule by holding a rock concert on Saturday in the UK, which is home to hundreds of thousands of Polish expats.

The other candidates were out on the trail on Friday.

Kaczynski said Poland has “plenty of money”. He noted that it can’t be “used irresponsibly”, but he added “most Poles live too humbly compared to our GDP”.

He also said "hospitals, schools are falling apart, even Poland's forests are falling apart" due to Civic Platform's alleged mismanagement.

Szydlo said “rural Poland needs help from central government”.

Kopacz met with rural women in Warsaw.

She later said at a rally in Kielce, in southern Poland, that Law and Justice “can’t afford to keep its [electoral] promises”.

She added, alluding to its anti-refugee rhetoric and its Roman Catholic mores, that “if Law and Justice comes to power, we’ll be removed from the 21st century”.

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