Event: Polish Election Results

The results of the elections bring hope for Poland to re-engage in a more cooperative manner with the European Union

18 October 2023

On 17 October 2023, a Visegrad Insight Breakfast event brought a group of over 20 ambassadors, diplomats, and experts to discuss the results of the Polish parliamentary elections.

The final results of the State Electoral Commission (PKW) indicated a victory for Law and Justice (Prawo i Sprawiedliwość) with 194 seats. Civic Coalition (Koalicja Obywatelska) won 157 seats, Third Way (Trzecia Droga) 65, Left (Nowa Lewica) obtained 26 and Confederation (Konfederacja) won 18. However, it is the Third Way, Civic Coalition and Left who will be able to form a coalition government together. They managed to gather 248 seats, thus obtaining a majority in the parliament of 460 seats.

Read our editorial position: Poland’s Pro-EU Opposition Ahead in Elections

Throughout our session, Wojciech Przybylski and Adam Jasser presented prospective scenarios for the upcoming weeks, particularly regarding establishing a new government and the political challenges facing Donald Tusk, who leads the Civic Coalition.

What’s starting today in Poland is how to restore democracy and establish a new social contract for it. It’s not just about winning an election; it’s about governing effectively.

President Andrzej Duda from PiS will remain in office for the next two years, which means the new government must contend with an opposition president. This marks his second term, and as a result, there are doubts about whether Duda will obstruct Tusk’s effective governance or consider his role in international structures beyond 2025.

When Lech Kaczyński was in office during Tusk’s government, he vetoed many bills. Duda, with his lack of negotiation skills, has limited prospects for an international career. I suspect he will adhere to a narrative in which Tusk’s government is portrayed as distancing Poland from patriotic values.

Participants speculated about the shape of the future government, whose behind-the-scenes negotiations are underway. Most of the ministries will go to the Civic Coalition. The crucial aspect now is the selection of a qualified Minister of National Defense and Minister of Foreign Affairs, considering the ongoing war in Ukraine and PiS’s poor and miserable policy towards the European Union.

What about the abortion law? Three years ago, the Constitutional Tribunal removed the legality of abortion in Poland in cases where the fetus has defects or is ill. Currently, the grounds for allowing abortions are rape or a threat to the health or life of the mother.

It’s going to be a challenging matter as within coalitions, there are proponents of holding a referendum (from Polskie Stronnictwo Ludowe, a part of Third Way), and the president may wield his veto ‘power’.

There are also uncertainties surrounding the Polish judiciary, the depoliticisation of public media and state-owned enterprises, inflation and the impending price increases for food and heating starting in January.

It is conjectured that President Duda will initially designate a representative from PiS to establish the government. Only after failing to secure a parliamentary majority will there be an opportunity for the formation of an opposition coalition government. This implies that the new government in Poland is unlikely to take form until the end of this year at the earliest.

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. 

Natalia Kurpiewska

Event & Community Manager in Visegrad Insight. Deputy Editing Manager in Youth on Politics


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