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Poland’s EU elections

The recent EU electoral results are a mixed bag: the Greens ride high in Germany; the leftists dominate Spain; the populists were cut to size in Denmark (a surprise); and they stumbled in Austria (not a surprise). Predictably, the Brexit Party scored high in the UK; the rest put on a lackluster show. Elsewhere it is a nationalist and populist surge: France and Italy in the West, in particular.

In Poland, it is a comfortable victory for the populist/conservative/nationalist coalition called Law and Justice (PiS) over the liberal/leftist/post-Communist European Coalition (KKW). This is an extremely important accomplishment. Even though PiS won a self-government nation-wide election last year (it actually increased its nationwide share by several points), it allowed itself to be intimidated by the liberals and post-Communists to feel that it actually lost because the pinks (with red help) took all the major metropolitan areas.

Thus, the victory in the EU elections are a fabulous boost to the PiS government. It will certainly help in the fall national parliamentary elections. If PiS does not do anything stupid to alienate its electorate, it is almost guaranteed a victory. The question whether the victory will be overwhelming is another story. For now, it appears like the government has a chance to stay in power without having to form a coalition with anyone. But anything can change, of course.

There were two odd balls in the EU election. One was Wiosna (“Spring”). It is a well funded (e.g. Soros, the EU) far leftist outfit which became largely a vehicle for Poland’s LGBT. It barely squeezed through, and it has 3 deputies. The media shilled for it terribly, while dismissing the other side of the spectrum to besmirch it.

The other side of the spectrum, really a black horse, was Konfederacja (Confederacy). This is an eclectic, big tent coalition between monarchists, integrist Catholics, Rothbardian & Randian libertarians, Burkean conservatives, hard core populist, and nationalists (or a hodge podge mix of all of the above), including their youth movements. It almost got in. But it didn’t. The people did not want to waste their vote on rowdy eccentrics, so almost all the votes went to PiS.

Konfederacja has no widespread support, but it has a very sizable activist volunteer contingent, in particular among the nationalist kids. They were the engine for the chiefs: they put up posters, operated on social media, and cheered at rallies. Konfederacja had virtually no funding and was accused of being “Russian agents,” and a bunch of other ugly stuff. In reality, they are very amateurish and politically unsophisticated. PiS is afraid they’ll steal its votes in the coming parliamentary election. It is rather unlikely. Instead, Konfederacja seems to have cannibalized the support of an earlier insurgent populist group, Kukiz ’15, dubbed after an aging Polish rockman, whose party (once polling at 12%) virtually imploded in the EU election.

The Kukiz ‘15 will continue to unravel, and it will most likely fail to clear the threshold to qualify in the fall.  Konfederacja may bring in a few people.  And so will the LGBT’s Wiosna, if for different reasons. On the other hand, if Kukiz ’15 manages to clobber a coalition with the greatest loser of all, the Polish Peasant Party (PSL), it may stand a chance.

The hard numbers are as follows: 45.7% eligible people voted (that is nearly THREE times more than in the previous EU election). Law and Justice (PiS) earned 6,192,780 votes, or 45.38%; it won 26 seats, an increase of 7 seats since the previous election. Overall, 13.6% more people voted for PiS than 4 years earlier.

The European Coalition (KKW) consisted of the Civic Platform (PO), Polish Peasant Party (PSL), The Alliance of Democratic Left (SLD) [successors to the Communist Party], Modern Party (N), and the Greens. KKW received 5,249,935 votes, or 38.47%; the European Coalition received 22 seats (down 6 seats from the previous election; and lost 10.22% of the vote in comparison with the previous election). Significantly, following the EU poll, the KKW coalition has already splintered: the PSL and the SLD have gone it alone; the Modern Party was reabsorbed into the Civic Platform; and the Greens have gone off on their own.

Wiosna (Spring) eked out  826,975 votes, or 6.06 of the vote (6.0% was the cut off line) — it received 3 seats in the EU parliament. Konfederacja managed 621,188 votes, or 4,55% of the vote and failed to clear the electoral threshold. The rest of the parties clocked in an even smaller percentage of votes.

All in all, the victorious streak for the PiS continues unabated. The party hopes for an absolute majority in the fall so it can change the constitution. The EU elections were an important boost.

Marek Jan Chodakiewicz
Washington, DC, 1 June 2019