Five things you need to know about the EU elections in Poland

Five things you need to know about the EU elections in Poland

Katarzyna Cyrbus May 2019

Election marathon in Poland

Poland is in the middle of two years of elections – starting with local elections in October 2018, followed by European (May 2019), parliamentary (October 2019) and presidential elections next year. Elections to the European Parliament are perceived as the “primaries” for the national parliament – they tend to indicate the political trends and social mood. The fight takes place mainly between the ruling party and their opponents, united in a European Coalition.

The biggest parties opt for strong representation

Many of the ruling party’s (Law and Justice / PiS) candidates are currently holders of some of the highest offices in Poland, including the Minister of Internal Affairs, former Prime Minister Beata Szydło, Deputy Marshall of the Senate, and Government’s spokesperson. Similar tactics are at play within the European Coalition, whose candidates include a number of former prime ministers and deputy prime ministers who will probably join various fractions in the European Parliament – EPP, ALDE, S&D and Greens.

Almost everyone is pro-EU

Over recent years, representatives of the ruling party have made many Eurosceptic statements, but this trend has been reversed and there’s no more “Polexit” climate in national politics. The President Andrzej Duda, who used to call the European Union an “imaginary community”, has clearly changed his mind and he now proposes incorporating Poland’s EU membership into the Polish Constitution.

We like the EU, but are we eager to vote?

According to research carried out by the European Commission, 54% of Poles rate the European Union positively. Nevertheless, European elections are not very popular in the Polish society. In the elections to the European Parliament in 2014 average turnout in Poland was only 23.82%, while in the parliamentary elections in 2015 it was 50.92%, and as high as 55.34% in the presidential elections.

Why these elections may be different

This election marathon in Poland is the reason why Poland now finds itself in a constant political campaign. The race is important both for the ruling party and for the united opposition. If the ruling party loses the elections, it would be the first time since 2014 (after 4 victorious campaigns). Therefore both teams take EU elections seriously, as they treat them as a test before the national elections in the autumn. The narrative of current political campaign is that EU elections are a breaking point in Polish politics and greater support for EU as a community heard from the parties who used to be more sceptical is also one of the tools to boost this narrative. Next Sunday will show if voters see it the same way.