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Opposition Secures Win After Tense Elections in Poland

On October 15, 2023 parliamentary elections in Poland took place. The Polish people both voted for the seats in Sejm, which is the lower house of the bicameral parliament of Poland, and the Senate, the upper house. A referendum with four questions about the government's immigration and economic policies was held concurrently with the elections. In the 2019 version of the elections, right-wing party Law and Justice (PiS) held majority in Sejm seats with Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki forming a second government. The opposition, on the other hand, got the majority of the votes for the Senate, leaving the bicameral parliament quite polarized.In this year’s elections Donald Tusk led the alliance called Civic Coalition opposing the party in order, Law and Justice. The opposition, which also includes the parties “Third Way” and “The Left”, gained the majority of the voters’ support and are expected to form a coalition government. The turnout rate for women was 74.7% and 73.1% for men with both voting in similar amount for the two major opposition parties, Third Way and Civic Coalition, as well as the current government. The percentage of registered voters aged 18 to 29 who actually voted was 68.8%, up from 46.4% in the previous 2019 elections. Among these voters, support for the ruling party decreased to 14.9% from 26.3% in the previous four years. Since forming a second government after the elections in 2015, Law and Justice has placed a strong focus on Catholic family values, raised the minimum wage, and increased payments for pensioners and child support. Since then, Poland has faced many issues such as the abortion ban, rights of LGBTQ+ people, immigration, and the uncertainty of its future with the EU. Since Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine last year, Poland has likewise been a steadfast ally of that country and has welcomed a million migrants. Additionally, it virtually outlawed abortion starting in 2021 and has been charged with policing the system by appointing judges who support the ruling party to the highest courts. Many women and men who opposed the decision demonstrated in the streets throughout the entire country. Moreover, Poland was involved with bribery scandals regarding the Schengen visa, so the current government’s response to the accusations and its way of dealing with the scandal also played a big part in shaping voters’ decisions which manifested themselves this October.

The final turnout for the election was a record 74.4 percent. According to the final results, Law and Justice got 35.4 percent of the vote, followed by the far-right Confederation with 7.2 percent, the center-left Third Way with 14.4 percent, the centrist Civic Coalition (KO) with 30.7 percent, and the left with 8.6 percent. In parliament, this translates to 194 seats for Law and Justice, 157 for Civic Coalition, 65 for Third Way, 26 for the Left, and 18 for Confederation. The Civic Coalition, which has 248 seats and is led by former prime minister and current president of the European Council Donald Tusk, the Third Way, and the Left have vowed to work together to overthrow PiS. With 66 seats to 34 for Law and Justice, the opposition increased its hold on the lower chamber's Senate, which has less authority. President Andrzej Duda will take the next step and name a candidate for prime minister. With 35.38% of the vote, PiS defeated the centrist Civic Coalition opposition of Donald Tusk. The likelihood that Mr. Tusk can now put together a large alliance has increased. That would put an end to Jaroslaw Kaczynski's eight-year reign as leader of the PiS. The National Election Commission announced the final count results on Tuesday. Although it is anticipated that the winning party will be given the opportunity to form a government, Mr. Kaczynski will be well short of the 231 seats required to do so. "This is the end of the bad times, this is the end of the PiS government," said former European Council president Donald Tusk on Sunday night. Rafal Trzaskowski, the mayor of Warsaw, commended the "enormous power of civil society" after learning that 84.92% of the 1.35 million registered voters in the capital had cast ballots. Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, who was elected in 2019 made his resignation official to enable the newly elected parties to form a coalition government on November 13, 2023. The coalition government is expected to be led by Donald Tusk, the former prime minister of the country. According to Tusk, his administration that is yet to come will try to get billions of euros in EU funds that were put on hold because of Law and Justice's policies, which were seen as undermining the judiciary's independence. All of Tusk’s attempts are forecasted to be finalized in the following weeks.

poland elections graph

Works Cited

Poland election: tusk’s opposition eyes power after pivotal vote. (2023, October 17). BBC.

Cienski, J. (2023, October 17). Poland election results: opposition secures win, final count shows. Politico.

Walker, S. (2023, October 16). Poland election: law and justice party on course to be ousted from power. The Guardian.


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