Polish President Andrzej Duda announced the nation will hold a general election on Oct. 15, officially kicking off campaigning as the nationalist Law & Justice party fights to hold onto power for an unprecedented third term.
(Bloomberg) — Polish President Andrzej Duda announced the nation will hold a general election on Oct. 15, officially kicking off campaigning as the nationalist Law & Justice party fights to hold onto power for an unprecedented third term.
The contest poses one of the biggest risks yet to Law & Justice’s coalition majority as the opposition assails the government for failing to allay a cost-of-living crisis and resolve a growing list of legal disputes with the European Union that have frozen €35.4 billion ($38.7 billion) in aid.
Hundreds of thousands of Poles have also taken to the streets to protest against the government’s near-total ban on legal abortions.
Opinion polls show Law & Justice with a lead over the biggest opposition party, Civic Platform, with support of about a third of the electorate. But the ruling party has struggled to win over voters beyond its conservative, Catholic and largely rural base, leaving it potentially well short of a majority. The party is likely to struggle to secure the 44% of the vote it won in 2019.
“The future of Poland is a matter for each of us,” Duda said in a post on X, the social media platform previously known as Twitter.
During eight years in power, the ruling party has consolidated its electorate by offering an array of popular social programs, including subsidies to families with children, pension increases and a lower retirement age.
Law & Justice leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski, Poland’s most powerful politician, has struggled to gain traction with a bolstered spending plan for families. He’s also rallied behind efforts to target Civic Platform leader Donald Tusk, the former European Council president, championing legislation designed to effectively place Tusk under investigation ahead of the vote — a measure that drew a sharp rebuke from the US and EU.
The episode, which prompted Duda to row back on parts of the legislation, compounded longstanding grievances over the erosion of democratic standards and institutional independence in Poland. The passage also prompted almost half a million Poles to take to the streets of Warsaw on June 4. Protesters reinforced a litany of complaints over Law & Justice’s consolidation of power over the judiciary and the media.
But three months ahead of the ballot, neither main party has seen a boost in the polls, raising the specter of a deadlock after votes are cast. Much electoral energy has gone to Confederation, an alliance of far-right and euroskeptic groups that have mixed anti-Ukrainian and anti-immigrant rhetoric with a radical small-government vision.
The newfound popularity of Confederation, particularly among younger voters, has transformed a force once on the fringes of Polish politics into a a potential kingmaker. While Law & Justice has dismissed talk of an alliance, it may be hard pressed to secure a majority without Confederation.
–With assistance from Konrad Krasuski and Piotr Bujnicki.
(Updates with more context from 2nd paragraph)
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