MS Risk Blog

Poland’s Political Situation

Posted on in Uncategorized title_rule

Key Judgement: Within the next three months, it is likely that political disruption of current administration would be continue. It is likely that current government would not strongarm farmer protest.

The current Polish Prime Minister, who first ascended to power in 2007, initially gained recognition for his moderate approach towards political rivals. However, his subsequent administration, following an eight-year hiatus dominated by the Law and Justice (PiS) party, has adopted a more confrontational stance against its predecessor. The PiS party, which secured a majority government through the 2015 parliamentary elections and was re-elected in 2019, draws its primary support from blue-collar workers. These individuals perceive leftist economic policies as neglectful of their needs. The party’s core base—older, religious, conservative, and patriotic citizens—predominantly resides in rural areas and small towns, especially in the southeast, a region historically marked by occupation and brutality at the hands of the USSR in the 20th century. Within this context, PiS has pursued nationalistic campaigns while assuming control over the judiciary, media, and cultural institutions, thereby exacerbating political polarization.

The 2023 parliamentary elections resulted in a coalition government formed by the Civic Coalition, Third Way, and The Left, under the leadership of Donald Tusk, which garnered 54% of the vote. This victory, however, sparked controversy due to PiS still winning a plurality of seats. In the parliamentary system, this scenario necessitates Tusk, the Civic Coalition leader, to forge alliances with the other two parties to secure a majority against PiS. Complicating matters further is the re-election of Polish President Andrzej Duda, a PiS member, in 2020 for a five-year term. Although the presidency is largely ceremonial in Poland’s parliamentary system, it possesses sufficient authority to challenge the current administration with PiS’s support.

Despite these challenges, Tusk is spearheading ambitious reforms to dismantle the legacy of the eight-year PiS rule. Notably, two former PiS ministers were arrested within the Presidential Palace, and the public television station TVP was shut down due to its role as a major propaganda tool for the former administration in December 2023. Tusk’s administration has also initiated efforts to reverse the abortion ban and launched an investigation into the use of Pegasus spyware, allegedly employed by the previous government to target political adversaries. On the international front, Tusk has focused on strengthening ties with the EU and the US, a move that has inspired hope among Poland’s liberal populace while stirring dissent among conservatives. Acts of political sabotage by President Duda, such as pardoning the two arrested former ministers, further complicate the situation for the current administration.

Another critical juncture for Tusk is the upcoming local elections on April 7, which will determine city and provincial leaderships. A victory for PiS, especially in the provincial assemblies, is crucial to maintaining its political influence. Conversely, success in the local elections could stabilize the current government’s position. The European Parliament elections in June also pose a significant challenge for Tusk and the EU, with Poland electing 53 seats, the fourth largest contingent. The outcome could potentially undermine Tusk’s government domestically, especially when PiS supported EU parliament members start anti-EU policy with the help from other European nation’s far right members.

The ongoing nationwide farmers’ protest, fueled by opposition to EU green regulations and cheap Ukrainian imports, has become a pivotal issue. With 77.2% of the Polish population supporting the farmers’ movement, Tusk is compelled to endorse it. The protests, which have led to blockades at the Ukraine-Poland border, place the government in a precarious position, as any aggressive response could bolster PiS’s support, particularly in its stronghold in the southeast. Additionally, framing the protest as undermining Ukraine could contradict Tusk’s anti-Russian foreign policy, offering PiS another opportunity to criticize the government.

In conclusion, the current farmers’ protest serves as a critical leverage point for both the government and the PiS party. It is probable that the protest leaders recognize their advantageous position in the coming months. PiS is likely to capitalize on this for the local and EU Parliament elections, while the government may find itself unable to enact drastic measures to quell the movement. Ironically, the protest inadvertently supports Russia’s campaign in Ukraine, thus challenging Tusk’s foreign policy stance. As such, the political landscape in Poland is expected to remain turbulent in the upcoming months.