The Warsaw Voice » Politics » Monthly - November 3, 2015
Politics & Society
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Would it be possible in a mature democracy to have a situation in which five of the eight leading political parties running for parliament were established just a few months ahead of the election? In Poland, this was exactly the scenario as voters headed to the polls Oct. 25. Only three well-established parties contested the election: the governing, center-right Civic Platform (PO); its coalition partner, the rural-based Polish People’s Party (PSL); and the conservative opposition Law and Justice (PiS) party, which won a decisive victory, ending eight years of joint rule by the PO and PSL.

When it comes to the other groups, the United Left is an election coalition of several well-known leftist groups that was formally established in August. These leftists, comprising the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD), Your Movement and several other groupings, simply decided that they needed a new name to boost their chances of making it into parliament this time around.

The radical KORWiN, registered in January, is the latest metamorphosis of a string of right-wing groupings that have been formed over the years by the tireless Janusz Korwin-Mikke, the former leader of the Union for Realpolitik and the Congress of the New Right. Korwin-Mikke has long employed a tactic of continually changing the name of his party, though the same can’t be said of his views. Neither KORWiN nor the United Left offered voters anything new in terms of their election platforms except the new names.

The remaining three groups are completely new in Polish politics. The Kukiz’15 movement was built on the unexpected success of Paweł Kukiz, a popular, anti-establishment rock musician, in the first round of the presidential elections in May, when he came in third. The nearly 21 percent of the vote that Kukiz won at the time—largely by criticizing the entire system of government in Poland—boded well for his political future, though support for him later dipped.

The Nowoczesna (Modern) party was set up from scratch in May by Ryszard Petru, a prominent economist who was once a favorite student of Leszek Balcerowicz, the architect of Poland’s economic transition and market reforms of the early 1990s. Some see Nowoczesna as a much-needed breath of fresh, free-market air in Polish politics; others dismiss Petru as a covert lobbyist for banks and financiers.

The last group to register its election committees nationwide (it needed 100,000 signatures) was the orthodox leftist Razem (Together) party, which admits to being fascinated with the icons of the European leftist movement of recent years such as the Spanish anti-austerity Podemos party and Greece’s Syriza—which nearly drove its country to bankruptcy.

As a group formed by young people, Razem attracted quite a few young voters, especially those who voted for Kukiz in the presidential elections but later became disappointed with his political ideas.