From the Editor-in-Chief
July 4, 2014
Voters in Poland didn’t show the European Parliament elections any more respect than five years ago. With turnout at just over 20 percent, Poland was far below the EU average of over 40 percent. Domestic matters are closer to people’s hearts, and political parties failed to convince Poles that a good representation in the European Parliament was important.
Voters followed their political sympathies and antipathies on the domestic front. The governing party won by a hair’s breadth, proving that, despite its seven years in power, it still has what it takes to attract voters. Law and Justice (PiS) is hot on the Civic Platform’s (PO) heels ahead of a string of elections at home, although it’s not quite strong enough yet to take over the reins of government.
Everyone treated the European elections as a test before next year’s Polish parliamentary elections. There are two more tests ahead: this year’s local government elections and the presidential election in 2015. Only then will the situation become clearer. It’s a little like horse racing: you have several preliminary races followed by the big one. And it’s the last race that answers the question of who’s best—or, in this case, who will govern the country. It’s also the time when the flukes get weeded out. In Poland’s case, we’ll find out if the biggest surprise of the European elections—four European Parliament seats won by the ultra-radical Congress of the New Right—also means they will be in the national parliament.
Meanwhile, after their election day lethargy, Poles were brutally jolted awake by a scandal over secret recordings of government ministers and top officials. The prime minister called this a coordinated, well-planned operation directed against the government. He even described it as “an attempted coup d’etat.” The opposition demanded that the government step down. The prime minister consequently requested a vote of confidence from parliament and won it, concluding that this gives him a mandate to continue in power.
Meanwhile, those who were eavesdropped on suddenly feel exposed. And ordinary people have been left shaking their heads in disbelief.