Poland: Conservative PiS party tempts centrist and right-wing parties with coalition in local governments

By John Cody
4 Min Read

According to official results, the Law and Justice (PiS) party won the local elections in Poland to the regional councils, outpolling Donald Tusk’s Civic Coalition (KO) 34.27 percent to 30.49 percent.

In the Lublin region, PiS secured 47 percent of the vote and has an overall majority on the council, but its regional leader and former education minister, Przemysław Czarnek, has revealed that he is willing to coalesce not only with the right-wing Confederation party, but also the PSL, Donald Tusk’s coalition partners at the central level. 

Czarnek claims that he has been talking to both PSL and Confederation about coalitions at the regional and county levels. He also insists that he has been invited by PSL politicians from the central level to discuss the potential for future coalitions. 

The PiS regional leader recalled that top PSL politicians had said that anyone who negotiates with PiS may be expelled from the party, and he feels that “this is a sign of their nervousness after an underwhelming performance in the local elections,” in which PSL was allied with Szymon Hołownia’s Poland 2050 in the Third Way alliance.

Czarnek said he believes that people at the grassroots level want coalitions with PiS, and sooner or later they will get their way at the expense of the center. 

“I think that those lower-ranking politicians from the PSL will pacify those at the top, seeing what happened in the local governments where PSL was a powerhouse. Now, after barely over 100 days of governing with Hołownia and the Civic Platform (PO), PSL is losing disastrously,” he told portal wPolityce.pl.

Czarnek noted that although PiS does not need the PSL’s support to govern in his region, he nevertheless is open to sharing power with that party. His overtures follow a time in which PiS at the central level has found it difficult to find coalition partners. Despite many policy similarities between PiS, PSL and Confederation, the three parties were not able to form a coalition at the central level and PSL ended up forming a government with Donald Tusk’s party, the KO. 

A local PSL leader responded by saying he would not allow Czarnek to eat up his party, to which Czarnek responded by saying: “I’m no cannibal, but I don’t want to get indigestion either, so if in the end someone does not want to, then I will understand.” 

Czarnek insisted that he did not want to talk with Poland 2050, with whom PSL is allied, as he views that party as part of the center-left, whereas he believes the PSL is on the center-right and has similar views on cultural, economic and social issues to PiS. 

Przemysław Czarnek’s position in his party has been boosted by the fact that in his region, PiS increased its majority and runs even more county councils than it did after the last elections. Many in the party openly talk about him as a potential successor to the founder and leader of PiS, Jarosław Kaczyński. 

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