Right-wing populists win outright majority in Poland

The right-wing Law and Justice party swept back to power in Polish elections on Sunday (25 October), winning an absolute majority of 232 seats in the 460-seat parliament, based on exit polls.

The result marks the end of eight years of rule by the centre-right Civic Platform party.

With Law and Justice having won presidential elections in May, it also marks the first time in Poland’s post-Communist history that the same party controls both levers of state.

The win comes amid perceptions that Civic Platform, which presided over a period of strong economic growth, served business elites instead of ordinary Poles.

Law and Justice has promised to lower the retirement age, boost welfare, and cut taxes for small businesses, while raising taxes for banks and supermarket chains.

Its campaign also included more populist elements, depicting Civic Platform as being servile to Germany, feeble on Russia, and putting Poles at risk of “diseases” brought by Syrian refugees under an EU relocation programme.

Beata Szydlo, a 52-year-old coal miner’s daughter who is to become Poland’s new PM, said at the victory rally: “We didn’t turn away from reality. We were there, where people find life hard. We have to continue this work. We can’t waste the hopes of the Polish people”.

The Guardian, a British daily, compared Law and Justice to the far-right, anti-EU National Front in France and the VVD in The Netherlands.

The New York Times said Poland is part of a broader swing to the right in eastern Europe, including in Hungary and Slovakia.

Le Monde, the French paper of record, highlighted Szydlo and Kaczynski’s conservative social mores and their links with the Polish Catholic church.

Spain’s El Pais described Law and Justice as “ultra-conservative” and predicted a “strategic” clash with EU institutions.

Full article: Right-wing populists win outright majority in Poland (EU Observer)

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