Polish president sets general election for 15 October

Parliamentary elections in Poland will be held on 15 October, Poland’s President Andrzej Duda has decided. The announcement of the election marks the formal start of the election campaign.

“Take part in the elections!!!,” wrote Duda on social media announcing his decision. “The future of Poland is everyone’s matter! Use your rights!”

In Poland, the parliamentary elections take place every four years but it is the prerogative of the president to decide on the exact date of the elections.

Weź udział w wyborach!!!
Kierując się treścią otrzymanej właśnie pozytywnej opinii Państwowej Komisji Wyborczej, co do proponowanego terminu wyborów do Sejmu i Senatu, podjąłem decyzję o zarządzeniu tych wyborów na dzień 15 października 2023 roku. Przyszłość Polski jest sprawą…

— Andrzej Duda (@AndrzejDuda) August 8, 2023

In the election, the national-conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party, which has been in power since 2015, will compete for an unprecedented third consecutive term in what polls indicate will be a very close race.

The other main forces competing are the centrist Civic Coalition (KO), the far-right Confederation (Konfederacja), the Third Way (Trzecia Droga) alliance – which includes the centre-right Poland 2050 (Polska 2050) and the agrarian Polish People’s Party (PSL) – and The Left (Lewica).

The polls show that in July, PiS enjoyed the highest support, with 33.7% of respondents declaring their willingness to vote for them on average.

Despite this, however, the party may struggle to form an independent majority. According to estimates by the polls aggregation website ewybory.pl, with such support, the party would only win 183 seats in the 460-member lower house of the Polish parliament, the Sejm. At least 231 seats are needed to govern alone.

A bloc of opposition parties that have traditionally worked together on many issues in recent years, namely KO, the Third Way and the Left, also might fail to secure enough seats to create a coalition government. The parties, which in July had average support of 29.0%, 9.6% and 8.7% respectively, are currently on track to win an estimated 222 seats, 9 short of what they need to take the power over.

Many commentators, therefore, point to the Confederation, which has risen strongly in the polls in recent months to average support of 12.6%, as a potential kingmaker during this year’s elections.

Monthly polling averages for Poland’s main political groups (via ewybory.eu)

The radical right-wing Confederation is a political conglomerate mainly comprising of free-market economic libertarians, previously centered around the divisive and eccentric figure of Janusz Korwin-Mikke, and radical nationalists from the National Movement (RN) grouping.

Confederation has achieved success in the polls after shifting its focus away from nationalist rhetoric on migration and the war in Ukraine and instead emphasising its free-market policies.

This year’s elections may result in neither the ruling party nor main opposition being able to govern without the support of the radical right.@AleksSzczerbiak looks at the recent rise of the Confederation party and how it may play the role of kingmaker https://t.co/7pVgUCt2hP

— Notes from Poland 🇵🇱 (@notesfrompoland) May 15, 2023

Commentators have for many weeks pointed to 15 October as the most likely date for the elections, indicating that it would fall just a day before the yearly celebrations of Pope John Paul II, who is a national hero to many.

The ruling party also plans to hold a referendum on the EU’s proposed migration pact on the same day, what analysts see as a tactic to mobilise its voters.

Notes from Poland is run by a small editorial team and published by an independent, non-profit foundation that is funded through donations from our readers. We cannot do what we do without your support.

Main image credit: Prezydent.pl

Alicja Ptak is senior editor at Notes from Poland and a multimedia journalist. She previously worked for Reuters.

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