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Poland’s 2019 parliamentary elections

PiS (Law and Justice) remains in power in Poland after winning the 2019 parliamentary elections.

October 15, 2019 - New Eastern Europe - News Briefs

A collage of election posters at the Bolesław Chrobry Square in Bielsko Biała. Photo: Silar (cc) wikimedia.org

The elections to the Sejm (parliament) and Senate took place on the 13th of October 2019. Polish citizens elected 460 MPs to the Sejm and 100 Senators to the Senate. There was a record turnout in the election of 61.7 per cent, the highest since the partially free elections in 1989.

The official results have confirmed the victory of the United Right, with PiS at the helm, received 43.6 per cent, which is over 8 million votes. This will enable them to continue majority rule and form a government. The largest opposition in the parliament will remain the same as in the previous Sejm. Koalicja Obywatelska (Civic Coalition) received 27.4 per cent of the vote.

One of the biggest changes from the 2015 elections is the reappearance of the left in the Sejm. With 12.6 per cent, the Left Coalition of Sojusz Lewicy Demokratycznej, Wiosna and Razem have managed to change the political scene in the country. Another party which will be relieved with the results is the agrarian party Polskie Stronnictwo Ludowe. They went together with the anti-establishment movement of Kukiz 15 and received 8.5 per cent of the vote.

PiS does not only have new challengers from the left in this new parliament, but farther to the right as well. Konfederacja, a combination of libertarians, monarchists and radical nationalists received 6.8 per cent of the vote. They have already called for the annulment of the elections, as they claim there was not enough time for them in state media.

The results to the upper house of the parliament, known as the Senate, were much closer. The opposition had made a deal to run candidates together, limiting the spread of votes. This tactic turned out to be successful as the opposition won the Senate by a margin of 320 votes. This might lead to a more predictable pace when it comes to fast track legislative changes.

At first glance it seems that the two main parties in Polish politics have the least to celebrate. PiS expected more as could be understood from the statements of many senior party politicians on the election night. As party leader Jarosław Kaczyński put it: “We received a lot, but we deserve more”. The Civic Coalition might be on the verge of large changes. Confidence in its leader Grzegorz Schetyna has dropped dramatically, as frustration grows after another lost election. The Left will celebrate as their goals were achieved, although the polls did point to a higher result being possible.

A quick glance at a few criteria and the results become clearer. The Civic Coalition won a sound victory in Warsaw and in the largest cities. However they only managed to win one voivodship, Pomerania. The United Right was more successful in the countryside and smaller towns. PiS did find a way to convince voters aged over 40, while the Left and Konfederacja appealed to the younger. The Polish politics seems to remain strongly polarised, setting the scene for what will be an interesting presidential race in half a year.

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