WARSAW (Reuters) – Poland will hold a parliamentary election on Oct. 15, the president said on Tuesday, a vote that will determine Warsaw’s relations with the European Union at a time when it faces rising tensions on its eastern border.
The result of the vote in the bloc’s largest eastern member is likely to influence whether there will be a thaw in relations with Brussels, which have been soured by rows over issues such as the rule of law and migration.
The election will also decide who will lead the NATO-member and key Ukrainian ally through a period of rising instability on its eastern border, amid concerns about the presence of Wagner Group mercenaries in Belarus and an increase in attempts by migrants to cross the frontier illegally.
“I decided to order these elections for Oct. 15, 2023,” President Andrzej Duda wrote on social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter. “The future of Poland is a matter for each of us! Use your rights!”
Polls show that ruling nationalists Law and Justice (PiS), in power since 2015, maintain a narrow lead over the largest opposition party, the liberal Civic Platform (PO).
However, even if the winner of the 2015 and 2019 elections manages what would be an unprecedented third victory in a row, it is unlikely to have an overall majority, opening the possibility of a coalition with the far-right Confederation party.
PiS has so far centred its campaign around an increase in payments under its flagship child benefit policy, while stressing that it will take a tough line on border security and criticising what it says is PO’s subservient approach to relations with the EU and Germany.
It plans to hold a referendum on a European Union migration deal opposed by Warsaw, and this may be scheduled for the same day as the election.
PO says removing PiS from government is necessary to unblock EU funds that have been frozen due to a dispute over the rule of law, and to reverse changes to the judiciary and state media which critics believes have eroded democratic standards in the country.
(Reporting by Alan Charlish; Editing by Andrew Heavens and Alex Richardson)