PiS won Poland’s election outright on 13 October. With 44% of the vote and 235 of 460 MPs, it will be able to continue governing alone. PiS came very close to a majority in the Senate (49 of 100 seats), but the upper house can only slow down government bills, not block them.
The party of Jarosław Kaczyński finished 17 points ahead of the “Citizen Coalition” consisting of the two main opposition parties (the liberal-conservative Civic Platform and the liberal “Modern”). “The Left” returned to parliament in the form of a coalition comprising the ex-communists of SLD, “Springtime” (led by the progressive gay activist Robert Biedroń) and the radical leftist “Together” movement.
The exotic Polish Coalition allowed the Polish People’s Party (representing rural voters) and the populist rocker Kukiz (of uncertain tendency) to stay in parliament. And a new political force brought up the rear with a 7% score: the national-liberal Confederation Liberty and Independence (Konfederacja). The group comprises the ultraliberals of Janusz Korwin-Mikke, the National Movement of Robert Winnicki and Krzysztof Bosak, and traditionalist Christians led by Grzegorz Braun.
‘The only party of the right’
Konfederacja has all the hallmarks of the radical right. Moreover, delegates from Germany’s far-right AfD were present at their headquarters on election night. Konfederacja’s program contains elements of sovereignism, including leaving the EU and limiting immigration. But at the same time it is very liberal, even neo-liberal, in the economic sphere. For example, the group advocates the abolition of income tax.
What is surprising is that Konfederacja was particularly popular among young voters. Elsewhere in Europe 18-29s tend to vote for progressives, liberals and the left. The result is even more surprising given that Konfederacja’s leader, Janusz Korwin-Mikke, is aged 76. But an exit poll was unequivocal: 20% of voters under 30 choose the radical right, against barely 1% of those over 60.
“It’s because it’s the only rightwing party”, explained Grzegorz, a 33 year-old fitness trainer with a degree in history, adding: “PiS claims it defends the interests of Poland in Brussels but it’s not true. And it gives in to Washington, which demands that the Polish government pay financial compensation to Jews”.
Newly elected to the lower chamber, Krzysztof Bosak, 35, comments: “Kaczyński is freeing up space on the right by moving to the center, and we are taking advantage of that”. He admits that the situation is new: “In 2014-15 Kaczyński’s movement campaigned on a tough immigration policy, but in practice did nothing”. His conclusion: “The Western media likes to paint PiS as a far-right party but it’s a cardboard-cutout of the right”.
“They have a real program”
Marcin Iwanowski, 34, a losing Konfederacja candidat