Polish opposition launch campaign to mobilise female voters

Poland’s main opposition group, the centrist Civic Coalition (KO), has launched a campaign to promote its female candidates and mobilise women to vote in next month’s parliamentary elections.

The drive comes as new data show that a record 44% of all candidates in the elections will be women, up from 23% in 2007. KO is above that average, with 48% of its candidates being women, after leader Donald Tusk promised that there would be gender parity on its electoral lists.

Ruszamy w wielką trasę Koalicji Obywatelskiej „#KobietyNaWybory”! Już dziś jedziemy w Polskę na spotkania z Wami, KOBIETAMI. Do zobaczenia ❤️ #KonkretDlaKobiet pic.twitter.com/FeKRjthIc7

— Kinga Gajewska (@gajewska_kinga) September 14, 2023

KO yesterday launched its campaign under the slogan “Kobiety na wybory”, meaning “Women to the elections”. Between now and polling day on 15 October, KO will send a “Women’s Bus” and some of its female candidates around the country to promote their programme, especially policies relating to women’s rights.

That includes overturning the current near-total ban on abortion and introducing the right to “legal, safe and available” terminations up to the 12th week of pregnancy, as well as full access to prenatal testing and free anaesthesia during childbirth.

Earlier this year, Tusk declared that women’s rights is the “number one issue” in Poland. However, some commentators have argued that he had a mixed record on women’s issues when he was prime minister from 2007 to 2014 and have suggested his recent vocal support for women’s rights is motivated by his current political interests.

Women’s rights is the “number one issue” in Poland, says opposition leader @donaldtusk

He declared abortion up to 12 weeks, IVF, contraception and sex education to be „fundamental rights” and pledged gender parity among his party’s top election candidates https://t.co/nWMzwejVRJ

— Notes from Poland 🇵🇱 (@notesfrompoland) March 22, 2023

“Women will win these elections,” said one of KO’s leaders, Barbara Nowacka, during the rally launching the new campaign. But “in order for us to win, we need a huge mobilisation”.

“A Poland of Kaczyński, Ziobro and Jędraszewski is not a country for women,” declared another KO candidate, Kinga Gajewska, referring to the chairman of the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, the justice minister and the archbishop of Kraków respectively, all outspoken conservative figures.

Other opposition parties have also sought to court the women’s vote, especially The Left (Lewica), which has unveiled a ten-point programme to improve the safety of women. The proposals include abortion on demand, changing the legal definition of rape, and paid menstrual leave from work

The Left has proposed policies to improve women’s safety, including abortion on demand, changing the legal definition of rape and paid menstrual leave.

It also wants to end the conscience clause that allows doctors to refuse abortions on religious grounds https://t.co/MzUGFnfHdl

— Notes from Poland 🇵🇱 (@notesfrompoland) June 16, 2023

KO’s new campaign comes after analysis presented this week by the Institute of Public Affairs (ISP), a think tank, and Gender Solutions, an expert advisory group , showed that a record 43.8% of candidates in the elections to the Sejm, the more powerful lower house of parliament, are women, compared to 23.1% in 2007.

The highest proportion, 49.6%, was on the electoral lists of The Left, followed by 47.8% for KO. The centre-right Third Way (Trzecia Droga) alliance has 41.2%, PiS 40.4%, and the far-right Confederation (Konfereracja) 39.9%.

However, the study also noted that among the top candidates on each party’s electoral lists in each voting district only 24.9% are women. Under Poland’s voting system, such “ones” (jedynki) are generally the leading candidates in each district and have the highest chance of being elected.

Here, KO had the highest proportion, 41.5%, while The Left followed on 34.2%. Among PiS’s “ones”, 24.4% are women, for Third Way the figure is 20%, and for Confederation – a party whose main leaders are all men and which polls most strongly among male voters – it is just 2.4%.

📢Uwaga. Rekordowy udział kandydatek w wyborach 2023. Mamy to policzone.
W tegorocznych wyborach mamy najwyższych w historii odsetek kobiet wśród osób kandydujących do Sejmu (43,8%) oraz na jedynkach – prawie ¼ wszystkich pierwszych miejsc w rękach kobiet!#kobietywwyborach pic.twitter.com/xzdipQlhlS

— InstytutSprawPublicz (@ISPThinkTank) September 11, 2023

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Main image credit: ada_guzniczak/Twitter

Agnieszka Wądołowska

Agnieszka Wądołowska is deputy editor of Notes from Poland. She has previously worked for Gazeta.pl and Tokfm.pl and contributed to Gazeta Wyborcza, Wysokie Obcasy, Duży Format, Midrasz and Kultura Liberalna

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