The elections in Poland on October 15th could be a closely fought contest, according to the latest opinion polls. Projections by polling institutions IBRiS and United Surveys both suggest that only 2-3 percentage points separate the governing right-wing United Right and the opposition centrist-liberal Civic Coalition. Another recent poll, however, conducted by Social Changes, gives governmental forces a ten-point lead over the main opposition alliance.
United Right, which has been in power since 2015 and is led by the national-conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party, could get 32-39% of the votes on election day, while Civic Coalition, an alliance consisting of seven parties, is predicted to gain 29-31%. Two out of three polls suggest that the right-wing populist Confederation (Konfederacja) has solidified its place as the third most popular force, with 8-13% of voters planning to back the party. Confederation has seemingly attracted younger voters with its fresh image, liberal policies on economics, and critical stance towards Polish assistance to Ukraine.
Observers have pointed out that it is unlikely that United Right—which gained almost 44% of the votes four years ago—can secure a majority in parliament and would have to look for a coalition partner. Confederation would be the most likely contender due to having similar views on issues such as support for the traditional family and Christian values, opposition to mass migration, and dislike for EU meddling in Polish domestic affairs. However, one of Confederation’s leaders, Sławomir Mentzen, has ruled out such cooperation. In his blog, Aleks Szczerbiak, Professor of Politics at the University of Sussex, argues that in order to maintain its “anti-establishment” image, Confederation cannot allow itself to be mentioned as a likely coalition partner. On the other hand, its leaders “would prefer to have a real influence on government policy than simply being a repository of protest votes, perpetually in opposition.”
A seemingly unstable multi-party coalition formed by opposition forces is another possible scenario after the October elections. The Civic Coalition would need the backing of the socialist-social democratic alliance The Left (Lewica) and the centrist-liberal Third Way (Trzecia Droga).
Government forces are focusing on security and migration in their campaign, pointing out the threat posed by Russia and Belarus, and the EU’s plans to redistribute migrants to member states. A referendum, consisting of four questions, will be held on the same day as the election to address these problems. Opposition parties will be boycotting the referendum, which they claim is an attempt by PiS to drum up support from voters at the ballot box.
The leaders of PiS have also singled out the leader of the opposition, former Prime Minister and former European Council President Donald Tusk, as someone who is not concerned with the interests of Poland but is an envoy of Germany and the Brussels elite. Tusk has hit back at the government by saying that it was in fact under PiS that the security situation started to deteriorate and migrants started coming to the country. The former prime minister is also campaigning against Poland’s tough laws on abortion, and has called for a “march of a million hearts” on October 1st, two weeks ahead of the polls.