Polish ruling coalition parties set to stand separately in April local elections

The three groups that make up Poland’s new governing coalition are set to stand separately in local elections due to take place in April. The idea of standing jointly had been floated, but announcements by each group on Tuesday appear to have ended that possibility.

At last October’s parliamentary elections, the three groups – the centrist Civic Coalition (KO), centre-right Third Way (Trzecia Droga) and The Left (Lewica) – also stood separately. They won a majority and, in December, formed a coalition government together.

Poland’s new government is a diverse coalition ranging from left to centre-right and contains a mix of big names and new faces, including some from outside politics.

Read our profile of every minister and some of the challenges each will face ⬇️ https://t.co/J1xfrmHHdj

— Notes from Poland 🇵🇱 (@notesfrompoland) December 13, 2023

Yesterday, Prime Minister Donald Tusk, the leader of KO, announced that his group would register its own electoral committee for the local elections. The deadline for groups to register participation is 12 February. The first round of the elections will take place on 7 April and the second on 21 April.

“We have hard work ahead of us,” said Tusk. “The April elections will be the first very serious assessment of the changes that took place in Poland in the autumn. We will take them very seriously. This will be a test of whether Poles are initially satisfied with this change or not.”

The prime minister added that he would “use all my authority among the coalition partners [to ensure] that even a heated election campaign will not divide anyone in the coalition. I’m sure it will succeed”.

Kwietniowe wybory samorządowe będą pierwszą poważną oceną zmiany, jaka zaszła późną jesienią w Polsce – powiedział premier Donald Tusk. Poinformował też, że zapadła o decyzja o złożeniu wniosku o rejestrację Komitetu Wyborczego Koalicja Obywatelska. https://t.co/3rhBAd5NnY pic.twitter.com/7tXL4CKJ2w

— TVP Parlament (@TVPParlament) January 30, 2024

Previously, some figures from The Left had expressed hope that they would stand jointly with KO. But Tusk’s comments appeared to put an end to that possibility, conceded Robert Biedroń, one of the leaders of The Left.

“It didn’t work out and we regret it as The Left, because when we found a common denominator to govern, co-creating the government, it seemed natural that we should run together,” said Biedroń, quoted by broadcaster RMF. “We have tried to persuade our colleagues to run together in a coalition.”

“[The Left] is ready to run on our own…emphasising even more the need to fight for left-wing values, especially when we see that it is difficult to obtain a majority on many left-wing demands,” he continued. “The Left will now have a greater opportunity to emphasise these differences.”

But Biedroń added that, while KO, The Left and Third Way would run separately for seats in provincial parliaments, they would still seek “cooperation wherever possible”. That could pave the way for some collaboration or coordination in, for example, candidates who will stand to be mayors.

W związku z tym faktem @__Lewica tworzy własny komitet wyborczy. Da to szanse wystawić naszych kandydatów i kandydatki w całym kraju z silnej listy ogólnopolskiej, w tym kandydatów_ki na prezydentów miast. W Warszawie oczywiście też. pic.twitter.com/gYhqR2z8un

— Anna-Maria Żukowska 💁🏻‍♀️ 🇵🇱🏳️‍🌈🇺🇦🇮🇱 (@AM_Zukowska) January 30, 2024

Meanwhile, also on Tuesday, one of the leaders of Third Way, Szymon Hołownia, announced that the two parties that make up the group – his Poland 2050 (Polska 2050) and the Polish People’s Party (PSL) – would field joint Third Way candidates in the local elections.

But he also added that, in cases where there is a strong mayoral candidate from one of their coalition allies, Third Way may not compete against them.

“We won’t be on the front line everywhere,” said Hołownia, quoted by Radio Białystok. “Sometimes we will support those who do good things, and they, in turn, will support us where we are stronger.”

Chciałbym, aby w wyborach do sejmików wynik Trzeciej Drogi oscylował między 17 a 20 procent – powiedział marszałek Sejmu, lider Polski 2050 Szymon Hołownia. Dodał, że w wyborach do sejmików czy w dużych miastach jego formacja wystartuje razem z PSL.https://t.co/wYWxuNaC4B

— tvn24 (@tvn24) January 30, 2024

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Main image credit: KPRM (under CC BY-NC-ND 3.0 PL)

Daniel Tilles is editor-in-chief of Notes from Poland. He has written on Polish affairs for a wide range of publications, including Foreign PolicyPOLITICO EuropeEUobserver and Dziennik Gazeta Prawna.

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