Law and Justice party (PiS), Civic Coalition (KO), the Third way, the New Left
General elections took place in Poland on 15/10/2023. On 17/10/2023, all votes were counted and published. The Law and Justice party (PiS), led by Jaroslaw Kaczynski, received 35.38% of the votes, making it the largest party but no longer the majority. Civic Coalition (KO) led by Donald Tusk, former European Council president, got 30.70% of the votes.
The center-right ‘Third Way’ party received 14.40% of the votes, the New Left 8.61% and the far-right Confederation 7.16% according to the Commission. Combining the KO with 157 seats, the Third Way with 65 seats and the New Left with 26 would be enough to form a parliamentary majority with 248 seats.
The results of the election were planned to be revealed on 16/10/2023, but because of a turnout of 74.4%, unprecedented since the fall of communism in 1989, the results were delayed to 17/10/2023.
Since the nationalist conservative United Right (ZP), dominated by PiS, came to power in 2015, Warsaw had problems with the European Union about rule of law, media freedom, migration and LGTBQ+ rights. This caused the EU to freeze billions in subsidies for the country. If the liberal opposition bloc, led by KO, comes to power, it could be a turnaround for Warsaw. Tusk has announced that when KO gets the ruling power, it will mend the relations with Warsaw and Brussels and undo PiS reforms.
Among other things, the PiS is accused of politicizing the judiciary, propaganda, and fuelling homophobia. Its critics say that democracy may be significantly eroded the moment PiS is elected for a third time in a row. PiS mainly seeks to preserve Poland's Catholic character to resist Western liberal pressures.
The outcome of the elections will not affect Poland alone. Foreign policy with the United States, Europe, and especially Ukraine and Russia will be affected. Since the Russian invasion, Poland has equipped Kyiv with German-made Leopard 2 tanks and Polish MiG-29 fighters, and has also taken millions of Ukrainian refugees. However, in the last months, farmers in Poland suffered from low Ukrainian grain prices and in response the PiS cutted grain imports from Ukraine. After the ban on Ukranian grain importation, Zelensky accused “some” countries of only pretending to support Ukraine. Poland felt accused and responded by ceasing its arms supply to Ukraine. Tusk is likely to reinvigorate ties with Ukraine when/if in office.
Poland has the strictest abortion laws in the EU; since 2021 abortion is almost totally forbidden. Kosiniak-Kamysz of the Third Way party would support revisiting the near ban to lighten it.
However, despite the KO’s coalition the President of Poland, Andrzej Duda, is a PiS ally and announced before the voting started on 15/10/2023 that the party who has the most votes would be the first party able to form a coalition. However, at this point there is no party that is showing willingness to join PiS. As KO is the second biggest party, President Duda will likely let KO form a coalition.
Judging from the outcome of the elections on 15/10/2023, there is a high probability that KO will form a coalition with the Third Way and New Left. Poland will also likely try to improve its ties with the EU and reinforce LGBTQ+ rights. The media regulation will likely be amended as is the abortion law. The outcome of the elections is likely to mean something good for Ukraine as well, such as more supply of weapons to Kyiv and re-allowing Ukraine to export grain abroad through Poland.