WARSAW – It is a bitter time in the European Union’s fifth-most populous country.
After months of bitter election campaigning, scandals, gaffes, attacks and just one debate, the political landscape ahead of Sunday’s general election is largely what it was a year ago. Two large parties – the ruling nationalist Law and Justice Party and the centrist Civic Coalition – are far ahead, and a group of smaller parties are far behind.
It is a testament to the deep divisions in Polish society.
Government supporters see the opposition as a traitor willing to hand Poland over to Germany (or even Russia) and turn Poland into an irreligious, gay-friendly dystopia subservient to Brussels and filled with Muslim immigrants.
Opposition supporters warn that if PiS wins a third term, it will succeed in stifling what remains of Polish democracy by continuing its control of the courts, attacking independent media and isolating Poland from its EU partners.
1. What do the polls show?
Politico’s poll of exit polls currently shows PiS at 37 percent while the Civic Coalition has 30 percent.
Three smaller parties are also likely to make it into the next parliament.
Poland national parliament election poll from opinion polls
For more polling data from across Europe visit POLITICO Polls.
The third way rate for the center right is 11 percent and the left is 10 percent. Both have pledged to join the Civic Coalition to oust the Law and Justice Party from power.
As for the far-right Confederation Party, it received 9% of the votes, and is the only potential partner in the Law and Justice Party coalition, although its leaders say they will not do so. The two parties have similar nationalist views, but their economic policies are completely different.
2. Why does everyone watch Little Parties?
The rules stipulate that parties need to win 5% of the vote to gain seats in parliament, but coalitions need 8%.
The Third Way – which unites the Poland 2050 party started by TV presenter Simon Holonia and the agrarian Polish People’s Party – faces this obstacle. If it fails, the remaining parties in parliament would receive a boost, and this would put PiS very close to a free-standing majority.
“How successful small parties are is crucial,” said Ben Stanley, an associate professor at the University of Social Sciences and Humanities in Warsaw.
3. Are the elections free and fair?
It may be free, but it’s not very fair.
The government has been working to boost social spending, holding outings across the country where government officials were able to engage with voters – all funded by taxpayers. It also promises rewards for the localities with the highest vote totals – a competition that only applies in small towns that tend to be strong PiS supporters.
State-controlled media are firmly in the government camp, although they are required by law to be impartial. A chain of newspapers owned by the state oil refining company Orlin also supports PiS – and the newspapers even reject advertisements from opposition parties.
Finally, the government put forward a referendum with four questions aimed at damaging the opposition and not actually reflecting any real policies. The article on immigration says: “Do you support the admission of thousands of illegal immigrants from the Middle East and Africa, according to the mechanism of forced transfer imposed by the European bureaucracy?”
The referendum has no spending limits, so state-owned companies are pumping huge sums into the campaign. The Polish Post Office even sent out leaflets to customers explaining the referendum and helpfully showing a mock ballot marked “No” four times – reflecting the government’s view.
Finally, the counting of votes will be supervised by judges appointed by the ruling party.
As of Friday evening, there was a gathering of foreign election observers Complain They have not yet received accreditation from the Electoral Commission to watch the vote.
4. What are the voting mechanisms?
All election campaigns end at midnight on Friday and the media stops all political reporting.
Polling stations open their doors at seven in the morning for approximately 29 million registered voters.
More than 600,000 people were registered outside the country, a record number. However, a new arbitrary rule limits the counting of votes in foreign locations to 24 hours; If the count is not completed by then, all ballots in that voting district will be discarded. Most foreign voters support the opposition.
Polls close at 9pm and the media will immediately announce the results of exit polls – which cannot be published while voting is in progress – which have historically been fairly accurate.
The counting of votes begins immediately National Electoral Commission You will announce the running total. By Monday morning, there should be a good idea who will win the official vote.
5. How is the government formed?
The first step will go to President Andrzej Duda, who is allied with the Law and Justice Party.
In line with Poland constitutionThe President has the freedom to nominate the Prime Minister. Duda said the president traditionally chooses a candidate from the overall winner of the election – which is almost certainly going to be PiS.
The newly appointed prime minister must win an absolute majority of the 460-member House of Representatives.
If the nominee fails, Parliament takes over and has 14 days to nominate a new nominee for prime minister who must then win another vote of confidence.
If this ends without a government being formed, the ball will return to the president’s court and he will have 14 days to choose another candidate. This time the candidate only needs a simple majority in a vote of confidence.
6. What happens if a government is not formed?
Efforts to win a parliamentary majority may take several months. If that fails, Duda will shorten the parliamentary session and call new elections, which must be held within 45 days.
That means new elections — and another bitter campaign — sometime in the spring of 2024.
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