Poland Elections will likely strengthen the right amid coronavirus pandemic, expert claims

POLAND’S Law and Justice Party will likely score a huge win to wrestle back control of domestic politics in next month’s elections, a leading expert told Redaction Politics.

The election, which is controversially still set to take place during the coronavirus pandemic, will likely bring about a resounding victory for Andrzej Duda.

The incumbent is so far ahead of main opposition party Civic Platform that he is likely to win without requiring a second round of voting.

Donald Tusk was tipped to make a return to Polish politics from his powerful role in Brussels but declined to take the leadership of Civic Platform last November.

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Professor Aleks Szczerbiak told Redaction Politics that would make little difference to next month’s results, despite Tusk’s past and name recognition.

He said: “Donald Tusk is a very divisive figure in Polish politics.

“He is one of the best-known politicians in Europe, but when he left Polish politics in 2014 the government was in a state.

“He has been so far out from Polish domestic politics that he has lost his critical antennae.”

duda-trump-white-house-1
Image: Shealah Craighead, Official White House

As such, a government led by Donald Tusk may not be the most attractive proposition for Polish voters, he added.

It is understood that voters felt that Mr Tusk’s seven years in power were defined by scandals and a lack of ambition.

October saw the Law and Justice Party lose control of the Senate – but the Professor said the significance of the lower chamber should not be overestimated.

He told Redaction Politics: “The Senate is very different in Poland. Much of what it does is to delay legislation for a month or so.

“But the opposition can decide certain things, such as the position of the Citizens’ Rights Ombudsman, who the government really dislike.

“October acted as a moral boost and a platform for the opposition.

“They have used this platform to put a spanner in the works of the government, to an extent.”

Though Włodzimierz Czarzasty and The Left made some modest gains last year, they are unlikely to repeat their electoral success next month.

They gained 49 seats in the Sejm and two in the Senate, but Professor Szczerbiak labelled their success an “illusion”.

Image@Flickr: Platforma Obywatelska RP
Image@Flickr: Platforma Obywatelska RP

He added: “The reason they came back is that they were united into a single party – all factions of the left.

“But The Left has not capitalised on this success as they should have done and replaced the liberals as the main opposition.

“We must not forget, there is a tendency to rally around the largest opposition group in an election anyway.”

Aleks Szczerbiak is a Professor of Politics and Contemporary European Studies at the University of Sussex.

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