Liberal cities, conservative interior

The key cleavage in Polish politics is no longer regional, but between city areas and rural and small town areas, writes political scientist Antoni Dudek in his post-election blog.

editor: REMIX NEWS
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The ruling Law and Justice (PiS) saw their candidates in the cities losing to the Civic Coalition (KO) and independents in the run-offs between two top candidates in 649 municipal authorities across Poland.

The influential commentator argues that getting PiS support was like a kiss of death for incumbent mayors, citing the example of Wojciech Lubawski, the mayor of Kielce who lost after being endorsed by PiS. 

The cleavage which used to run along regional lines… is slowly evolving in the direction of division between big cities (understood as 30-40 centers) and the rest of the country

Antoni Dudek is critical of the reaction of both the ruling party and the liberal opposition to the results. They are both, in his view, guilty of denial. The KO argued that voters on Sunday showed PiS a red card, ignoring that PiS won in the country at large in the more represented overall public opinion, during the elections for the 16 provincial authorities. PiS, for repeating like a mantra that “only 15 percent of Poles live in big cities” ignore all but the largest seven Polish cities.

Prof. Dudek concludes that the key division is no longer between the east and west of the country.

“The cleavage which used to run along regional lines… is slowly evolving in the direction of division between big cities (understood as 30-40 centers) and the rest of the country.”

This means the ruling party can be moderately optimistic about its chances in next year’s parliamentary elections. The reasons why that optimism can only be modest are that the economy maybe beginning to slow down, the provincial elections produced results which would not have guaranteed the ruling party another majority in parliament and the European elections are not good hunting ground for PiS. 

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