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The Fall of the PiS in Poland: a watershed in the country’s politics?

On the last 15th of October, Polish citizens were called to vote for the renewal of the lower house of Parliament. This election, considered as one of the most important for the country’s future, principally opposed the longstanding conservative government “Law and Justice” (PiS) and the centrist and pro-european “Civic Coalition”.

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The leader of the centrist party Donald Tusk celebrates his victory. By Piotr Nowak. Credits EPA/MAXPPP
The leader of the centrist party Donald Tusk celebrates his victory. By Piotr Nowak. Credits EPA/MAXPPP
The context and results

Two weeks before the general elections, a massive demonstration has been organized by the opposition’s leader Donald Tusk. Thiss demonstration taking place in Warsov’s street defies the conservative party. This “Million Hearts March” attracted around a million people according to the Polish municipality. It was historic in Poland and demonstrated a strong opposition against the PiS that has governed the country for eight years. 

At last, if political polls drew a victory for the conservative government, it is finally a coalition between the leading opposition party Civic Coalition, the Left and the Third Way that secured a majority of 248 seats in Parliament. The PiS secured 194 seats. This result is not enough to form a majority in the lower house of Parliament. Therefore it lost its ruling majority. 

The most important elections since the end of communism in 1991

At stake was the future of Poland’s politics and above all its relationship with the European Union. Indeed, Poland has been accused by the European Union of trespassing the Polish Constitution regarding the respect of the Rule of Law principle. Amendments have been passed by the government since 2015 that jeopardize women’s right to abortion, journalists’ freedom of speech and the independence of Justice. All these reforms are a direct threat to the European Union’s supremacy and values. All of this provoked a rise of discontent in Poland.

The importance of this election was expressed by the most important turnout (around 72%)  since the end of communism. This shows an increased interest in politics among the population. 

What next: improvement of the relationship between the Polish government and the European Union

The pro-european public demonstration “The Million Hearts” march on October 1st.By Damian Lamañski. Credits: Bloomberg, 2023 Bloomberg Finance LP

Some questions are being asked with the victory of this coalition led by the late President of the European Council Donald Tusk. What will the state of law become in Poland? How will the relationship with the European Union evolve? Is the conflict about European supremacy finally over? The accession to power of a pro-European party tends to draw the prospect of a better relationship between the Polish government and the European Union. Other burning issues such as Poland’s position on immigration laws are being raised. 

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