PiS wins Poland’s election but loses grip on senate
Poland’s far-wing Law and Justice party (PiS) has convincingly won Sunday’s general election, gaining a parliamentary majority.
PiS won 43.8 per cent of the vote, ahead of the country’s largest opposition grouping, the liberal, centre-right Civic Coalition, which won 27.2 per cent support.
There is little doubt that PiS will form the next government, but it will not have the same free rein it has enjoyed since the 2015 election.
The most interesting statistic was that the comparatively low turnout of 61 per cent was the highest since the fall of communism 30 years ago.
“We have reason to be happy”, said PiS leader, Jarosław Kaczyński, who is not the prime minister.
But he complained that there was a “huge front against us” and lamented that there are still many voters who do not support PiS.
“We received a lot, but we deserve more,” he told supporters chanting his name. “This means an obligation for us, an obligation for more work, more ideas, looking at the groups that didn’t support us. We’ll have to consider a lot of things.”
The party’s political strategy of boosting social spending, including an expensive child benefit scheme, alongside nationalist campaign and a repressive political style has been successful.
Pressure is building on Grzegorz Schetyna, an ex-foreign minister who leads the centre-right Civic Platform, the largest member of the Civic Coalition.
PiS used the publicly controlled media to promote its successes and alienate the opposition. Public broadcasts depicted the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights movement as a threat to Poland, echoing rhetoric from PiS and the Catholic church.
The PiS increases in welfare spending were funded by a booming economy, European Union funding and record consumer confidence. The PiS victory could also prove a problem across Europe with Poland emerging as an opponent of the liberal democratic values that underpin the EU.
But the PiS victory may well have fallen short of the landslide some had hoped for with the three main opposition blocs receiving almost 50 per cent of the vote.
The populist PiS lost control of the senate, which could hamper its legislative agenda.
The upper house is less powerful than the lower chamber, the Sejm, but it can slow the passage of legislation and fill important government jobs, for the first time since 2015 complicating PiS’s control of the legislature.
The far-right Confederation alliance is also due to enter parliament after receiving 6.8 per cent support despite allegations of anti-Semitism and hate speech.
While campaigning, Grzegorz Braun, one of its prominent members, said: “Deviants will not be raising our children. Revolutionaries will not be teaching us tolerance. Germans, Jews or Ukrainians will not be rewriting history for us.”
Poland must reduce its dependence on coal. Picture credit: Wikimedia