Poland’s National Elections on 13 October 2019

On 13 October the Polish citizens are going to vote in national elections – the decision has been announced by the country’s President Andrzej Duda. The opposition parties are divided and unhappy with the choice of the earliest possible date. The ruling Law and Justice advocated for the elections to be organised as early as possible.

On 13 October Poles will chose 460 members of the Sejm, the lower chamber, and 100 senators of the Senate. The Sejm MPs are elected proportionally in 41 electoral districts. The Senators are elected in 100 electoral districts: the winner of each district takes the seat.

Who’s running?

Unlike in the European elections in May, the opposition is not going in one united block. It is divided into three fractions. Here are the most important actors competing for the votes in October 2019:

Law and Justice (PiS) is the ruling party since 2015. Under the leadership of Jarosław Kaczyński, a former PM (2006-7), the party maintains a high public support. In 2015 PiS received 37.6% of votes and 235 seats (out of 460) in the Sejm allowing for the establishment of a first one-party government in Poland since 1989. PiS also had 61 senators (out of 100) back in 2015.

The Civic Coalition (KO) is a coalition between the Civic Platform (PO) and the liberal .Modern party (.N). Among other members of the coalition are the left-leaning Polish Initiative of Barbara Nowacka and the Green Party. In 2018, when the KO was established in a similar shape the coalition was able to face off PiS. In the regional elections the KO obtained some 27% of votes and PiS – 34%, but more importantly its candidates carried all of the bigger cities. The KO leader is Grzegorz Schetyna. The KO attracted a number of prominent former SLD politicians to join the coalition as well as an ex-PiS minister, Paweł Kowal.

The Left is an alliance of three political forces: the S&D members – SLD and Wiosna (Spring) and the third is the far left wing party Razem (Together). The Left is led by Włodzimierz Czarzasty (SLD, 40% of candidates), Robert Biedroń (Wiosna, 40% of candidates) and Adrian Zandberg (Razem, 20%). SLD obtained about 7% of the vote during the 2018 regional elections.

The Polish Coalition is a coalition led by the Polish People’s Party (PSL) and it’s leader is Władysław Kosiniak-Kamysz. There were tensions between the PO and PSL as during the European elections campaign the PSL has been accused by Law and Justice of supporting anti-Church politicians and being pro-LGBT. In order to prevent those accusations the PSL decided to abort the European Coalition. On another hand, PiS successfully divided the opposition forces.

It may be that Paweł Kukiz of Kukiz’15 will campaign alongside PSL. Some more conservative PO politicians joined the Polish Coalition, too, alongside prominent liberal conservatives known from their days in the European Parliament: Jacek Protasiewicz and Michał Kamiński. PSL obtained about 12% of the regional vote last year, but the party traditionally performs much better in a local and regional vote than in a national or a European one.

The far right Confederacy will run in one block. Mr Korwin-Mikke is among better known politicians of the Confederacy, now registered as a party (previously it was registered as an electoral committee only). Confederacy fell short of 5% threshold in the May European elections.

The Campaign

Poland lives in a permanent campaign. Not only since October 2018 the October 2019 elections is a third time Poles are going to the polls, but the ruling party has run a number of anti- campaigns over the years. The 2019 anti-campaign is the anti-LGBT campaign.

The Opposition says it will unite behind 100 candidates for the Senate.

The opinion polls indicate that the upcoming election is for the Law and Justice to lose. The party enjoys about 45% support, KO – 30%, the Left – 11%, the Polish Coalition – 9% and the Confederacy – 4%.

The summer politics are dominated by the Białystok riots, when the far-right hooligans attacked a peaceful LGBT Equality Parade. The country united in condemnation of the violence, but many PiS supporters as well as Church officials continue to instigate against the LGBT people.

The second summer topic is the Sejm’s Speaker, Marek Kuchciński, who has extensively abused the government planes to travel with family between Warsaw and his home district. This story is largely humoristic and the Sejm’s Speaker is a subject of memes. Here’s Poland’s No. 1 meme of today:

“Speaker Kuchciński walks his dog”

But the summer campaigns are not as relevant. The real campaign will begin after 18 August and over the next two months it shall be an intensive drive. Or, a flight, if you’d like.

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