It is a month since the European elections and the Civic Platform (PO) now knows why they lost the vote on 26 May. Here’s what Gazeta Wyborcza published a few days ago on the issue. Those points come from within the PO’s inner study.
- The exceptionally high turnout (46%, compared with 24% five years before), especially in the rural areas and small towns (up to 50.000 inhabitants). The bigger the town the turnout increase was smaller.
- Rural turnout was at 89% of the average, compared with 128% of the biggest cities: the difference five years ago was 86% to 148%.
- The European elections voter became more a “small town voter” rather than a “big city voter”: in 2019 60% of voters were rural or small town voters, compared with 56% in 2014. Law and Justice (PiS) won only in rural areas and in smallest towns (up to 50k).
- The increased turnout benefited PiS, as the people who turned up to vote were more rural and small town voters.
- The effect of the 13th pension: on 1 May the Polish pensioners received a new, additional payment of 200 Euro. In 2019 EU vote the turnout among the seniors was higher than the 2015 parliamentary elections (51% total) – it was the only social group with such a result;
- Reduced turnout among the younger and 30-40 year old voters: their activity benefited the Opposition last year during the local elections.
It is good to know why you lost. Now the PO can start to build up its strategy ahead of the parliamentary elections in October. There is a number of challenges for this. First, the unknown question if the Opposition goes as one, united front. It seems there might be two blocks, centre-right and a progressive one, rather than one, but it is too early to say. Those decisions, however, should be taken fast.
Second, there is a severe criticism against the PO leader Grzegorz Schetyna, and the fact that the European Coalition (EC) did not project a positive offer during the European elections, and people only received a negative offer: “do not vote PiS”, “they are bad”. Will the Opposition overcome those difficulties before October?
Third external criticism is the fact that the EC focused its campaign too much on the Internet, and not enough – offline. Apparently the PiS posters were everywhere and there were very few posters of the EC. Clearly offline still matters in Poland.