Event: Polish and Slovak elections

Elections in both countries brings lots of uncertainty

17 August 2023

On 17 August 2023, an exclusive Visegrad Insight Breakfast format brings ambassadors, diplomats and experts to discuss the trajectories of Polish and Slovak elections.

Amidst the current political uncertainty, the focus of our meeting was the upcoming parliamentary elections in Slovakia and Poland. The Russian invasion of Ukraine has galvanised the European community, with Poland taking a lead role in supporting refugees. During our session, we delved into predictive scenarios regarding future relations between Ukraine, Slovakia, and Poland. Our editors Wojciech Przybylski and Adam Jasser guided the discussion.

Read our editorial position: Ukraine in EU Path Threatened by Elections in Poland and Slovakia

In Poland, elections are set for 15 October. On the same day, a referendum will also be held, featuring four questions: selling Polish assets to foreign entities, increasing the retirement age, removing the barrier at the Polish-Belarusian border, and accepting migrants according to the mechanism imposed by “European bureaucracy.”

The government is essentially disseminating false information to the public. They are in a state of panic, and the referendum seems to be their best course of action.

Participants pointed out the falsehood and propagandistic nature of the referendum, emphasising its detachment from Poland’s democratic needs. For this reason, Poles should collectively express disagreement and opposition by refraining from participating. Let’s remember – for the referendum to be valid, half of the eligible Polish voters must take part in it.

There were also comments about the Law and Justice (PiS) party’s previous stance toward Ukraine. Before the outbreak of war, the government’s messaging and attitude toward Ukraine were less favourable than they became following the Russian invasion.

 It can be assumed that PiS saw an opportunity to enhance its influence in the region. Hence, the favourable stance toward Ukraine might be nothing more than a facade, aimed at leveraging political significance within the European Union.

On the one hand, they raise the argument about the necessity of Ukraine’s inclusion in the EU, while on the other hand, they focus on impeding grain imports from Ukraine. They find it challenging to establish a stable stance amidst these contrasting options.

Another discussion topic was the Konfederacja party’s role in the upcoming Polish parliament. The party has adeptly used social media platforms, primarily TikTok, to reach new and politically untapped audiences disenchanted with the politics of Kaczyński and Tusk.

The impending elections in Slovakia are generating equal levels of excitement and uncertainty. Voters are scheduled to go to the polls on October 30 to select their parliamentary representatives.

During the discussions, the topic of media disinformation present in the Slovak social space emerged. Since even before the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, the issue has been present in Slovakia; we wrote about it on our website a year ago.

The future policy environment is unclear. As mentioned, approximately 30% of voters remain undecided. According to surveys, Fitzo’s chances are becoming more precarious due to their support levelling off and the absence of apparent coalition allies on the horizon.

From our archives: Slovak Elections: Fico’s Return to Power Faces Obstacles

Official Slovak media statistics indicate that 1.5% of the 4.4 million eligible voters have already registered for absentee voting. This group of overseas voters could potentially have a significant impact, shaping the political landscape in Slovakia post-election. If all these absentee ballots were cast, they would make up more than 2.2% of the total votes in the 2020 elections.

The VISEGRAD INSIGHT BREAKFAST (VIB) format invites a select group of ambassadors, diplomats, experts and journalists for off-the-record monthly meetings with a Central European perspective. 

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