On the last stretch of the campaign before Poland’s parliamentary elections, which take place this Sunday, few pundits dare to predict the vote’s outcome, as opinion polls have swung back and forth over the past few weeks. The ruling centre-right Platforma Obywatelska (Civic Platform) of prime minister Donald Tusk is expected to win the upcoming elections but the latest polls show that its lead over the opposition right-wing Prawo i Sprawiedliwość (Law and Justice) party has narrowed over the past few weeks.
Should Tusk’s party win the vote, he could be the first prime minister in the country’s history to secure a second term in a row. Should he fail, Jarosław Kaczyński, Law and Justice’s leader and former prime minister, could take the helm of the government. Additional fuel is added by the fact that the election comes in the middle of Poland’s six-month rotating presidency of the EU’s Council of Ministers.
The campaign seems as if it has been improvised on a daily basis, wrote Poland’s leading news weekly, Polityka. “As a result, it does not come as a surprise that both parties go head-to-head, and no one can predict how this duel will end.”
Local observers say that the campaign has been relatively peaceful, and politicians are not eager to stir debates on the country’s future.
“There is little controversy in the current campaign, but even less actual content,” says Maciej Golubiewski, an expert from the Sobieski Institute, a Polish think-tank. “However, the opposition has managed to highlight many of the government’s failings from the past four years, which gave it a surge in the opinion polls. Most analysts expected the government to use the presidency as a weapon in the campaign, but in fact, there has not been much talk of this,” Golubiewski says.
As none of the parties is expected to win with a landslide and secure a majority of the 460 seats in the lower chamber, the vote’s outcome could lead to a political stalemate, as the winner will most probably need to take one, or (even more likely) two coalition partners on board.
With the aim of mobilising their electorates, the contenders have deployed different strategies. For the Law and Justice party, this means playing the nationalist card. Kaczyński’s recently published book Poland of Our Dreams, claimed that Germany wanted “soft subordination” from Poland.
Meanwhile, Tusk’s Civic Platform is trying to lure voters with its pro-EU stance, bringing their attention to the 300bn zloty (€68.5bn) of European Union funds the party says are within reach. But only if its leader is given a second term.