The European Coalition for Poland is a new initiative of former Polish pro-European prime ministers and foreign ministers, who have joined forces to stop the anti-European march of the Law and Justice. Will they succeed? Will this push for unity among the opposition forces be successful?
On February 1, the Civic Platform’s leader Grzegorz Schetyna was joined on a platform by many former Polish leaders. Together they have signed a declaration called “European Coalition for Poland”. See my translation of the Declaration below. For now, the key message is unity: the signatories call for creating a single, broad list in EU elections of all pro-European political forces in Poland, to make Polexit impossible.
Schetyna said he was present as a former minister of foreign affairs (MFA, 2014-15, PO), rather than the PO leader. Next to him were: Radosław Sikorski (MFA, 2007-14, PO), Ewa Kopacz (PM, 2014-15, PO), Leszek Miller (PM, 2001-04, SLD), Włodzimierz Cimoszewicz (PM 1996-97 & MFA 2001-2005, SLD), Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz (PM, 2005-06, PiS), Jerzy Buzek (PM, 1997-2001, PO) and Marek Belka (PM 2004-2005, SLD). Absent on the day, but also signatories of the declaration are Hanna Suchocka (PM 1992-93, Democratic Union, a centrist party at the time, default today) and Adam Rotfeld (MFA, 2005, SLD).
The notable missing individuals are: Jan Krzysztof Bielecki (a liberal PM 1991), Waldemar Pawlak (PSL’s only PM, 1992 & 1993-95), Andrzej Olechowski (a liberal MFA, 1993-95, one of the founders of the PO) and Dariusz Rosati (MFA 1995-97, SLD, today PO’s MEP).
Schetyna begun by a quote from late Paweł Adamowicz, murdered mayor of Gdańsk: “The only way Poland can be safe is in a united Europe”. Others followed; altogether they have send a strong message.
This strong message of unity is an important call for the SLD. The party’s most recognisable faces, even if today not necessarily close to its leadership, are former PMs Miller, Belka and Cimoszewicz. Especially Miller’s presence may suggest a push for the SLD to enter into coalition with the PO. SLD should take its decision on 16 February.
The absence of Pawlak, however, shows the limit of a similar push towards the PSL. PSL is expected to take their decision soon, too. There seems to be a growing pressure among the smaller parties to unite, with or without the PO. Today the Polish media are full of speculations about:
- PSL: EPP member, agrarian party, present in EP & Sejm, polling at about 5%
- SLD: S&D member, post-communist social-democrats, present in EP, polling at about 5%
- .Modern (Nowoczesna): a liberal party, present in Sejm, polling at about 2%
- Together (Razem): a left-wing party, affiliated with DiEM25 of Yanis Varoufakis, polling at about 3%
- new Robert Biedroń party, a new social-liberal party to start this weekend, polling at about 12% (momentum growing), close to the Macron movement
PSL and SLD are expected to join PO in the new European Coalition for Poland. .Modern could join. United says they go solo, so does Robert Biedroń. Polityka, a popular centre-left weekly, wrote today that it would be fair to have two European coalitions: a liberal centre-right (PO, .M, PSL) and centre-left (SLD, Biedroń, Together).
The speculation continuous.
The text of the Declaration:
“European Coalition for Poland
The elections to the European Parliament come in a key moment for the Poland’s fate. We call on the responsible forces and political, local government and civil society actors to put one, wide list, which aims to rebuild a strong position of Poland in the European Union. We call for a creation of a European Coalition, which will prevent Poland’s exit from the Union.
This is what the Polish national interest demands.
After regaining sovereignty in 1989, under a variety of governments, Poland gained access to NATO and EU, had an influence on key decisions about the fate of the region and the continent, developed and was respected. For three years this great national effort is wasted. A state system is built that is closer to Eastern than Western standards. The international position of the current government has been weakened, it doesn’t even fight for a good next Union’s budget for Poland. The threats are bigger. A wave of divisive politics and hatred assisted by a propaganda of lies is coming through Poland and through Europe.
A great majority of Poles want something else – a membership of Poland in a solidary EU, since this provides security and development. In the European Parliament elections this majority of Poles needs to receive an offer from the European Coalition for Poland built above partisan differences. The aim is to have Poland among the leaders of a renewed, strong EU.
We need to start now.”