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Law and Justice peasants PiS rural areas villages Commentary Poland

Law and Justice’s latest strategy to win the rural vote

PiS is not announcing a separate Polish Deal for rural Poland without reason. How will the opposition respond?

editor: Grzegorz Adamczyk
author: Michał Kolanko

Among the hot political holiday season issues, what does not concern Warsaw or Twitter will have huge importance to the future of Polish politics.

It must be noted that the second battle for support in villages and small towns has just begun. A full 40 percent of Poles live in rural areas, and millions more live in the smallest towns. The first battle was won by Law and Justice (PiS), mostly thanks to social programs and first presenting itself as the ambassador of rural Poland, then dethroning the Polish People’s Party (PSL) in those regions.

Without the mobilization of that electorate, Andrzej Duda would not have won re-election in 2020. But now the next round begins.

According to PiS’s research, it is clear that the “Polish Kansas” is changing. This is where the pressure comes from, in the Polish Deal, to form new aspirations and introduce modernization while maintaining cultural identity. This is what the Kaczyński-Morawiecki tandem is talking about during their rallies and picnics throughout rural Poland.

In the meantime, Kaczyński is restoring PiS’s majority in parliament and already regained one MP on Wednesday.

The focus on maintaining and developing support outside of Poland’s large cities can be seen from the very start, all the way back to when PiS first revealed the Polish Deal. Back then, Jarosław Kaczyński had first and foremost shown pride from the fact that PiS represents rural Poland.

PiS admits that it not only needs to maintain its voters in rural areas, it also needs to obtain new ones.

Although this was not picked up by the mainstream media discussion, in the last few weeks PiS announced a new separate Polish Deal for rural Poland as an autonomous program. Its details are to be revealed in the upcoming weeks, but some proposals have already been made.

PiS wants to spur the modernization of rural regions and bridge the civilizational chasm between villages and cities. PiS talks about this very openly.

Less openly, however, PiS admits that it not only needs to maintain its voters in rural areas, it also needs to obtain new ones. This is very difficult for the party to achieve in larger towns, so all that is left is the “activation” of the inhabitants of areas outside of metropolises who previously did not vote or rarely voted in general.

This is an ambitious task, but given the results of last year’s presidential elections, it is a very achievable one.

Nevertheless, there are challenges ahead of PiS.

First of all, Michał Kołodziejczak from the AgroUnia is building himself up in the space between town and village. Through social media and spectacular protests and happenings, he wants to be an alternative to PiS. He has already announced that, next week, farmers will block roads in one of Kaczyński’s bastions. He has also openly criticized Mateusz Morawiecki and has accused him of a lack of a real dialogue with small and medium-size farmers.

There is also the question of how the Polish opposition will fit into all of this.

So far, Donald Tusk has been focusing on polarization and not an offer for the electorate outside of the opposition. PSL is busy creating its new coalition, and the Left is focusing on itself.

The opposition’s hope may be Szymon Hołownia, unless he gives into the blackmail of polarization and will stop fighting for PiS’s voters and new ones. The younger leaders among the opposition may also use the age card, Hołownia or the Left’s female leaders in particular. After all, the strikes of women are just as important of a subject as drought, climate change and other civilizational issues.

This all ensures that nothing is certain prior to the 2023 elections.

Title image: PM Mateusz Morawiecki during one of his meetings with rural voters in Greater Poland region, source: Adam Guz, KPRM.