by Daniel Tilles
Poland’s European elections resulted in a clear victory for the ruling national-conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party, which won by an even greater margin than polls predicted. Their 45.5% share of the vote was the highest any party has ever received in an election in post-1989 Poland, and put it seven percentage points ahead of the European Coalition, an alliance of opposition parties, on 38.5%.
The only other party to pass the 5% threshold required to wins seats was the social-democratic Spring, founded by Robert Biedroń earlier this year, which took 6%. That left the far-right Confederation alliance (4.5%), anti-establishment Kukiz’15 (3.7%) and left-wing Together (1.2%) with no representation.
As the dust settles, and following a frantic few days of commentary and debate in Polish political and media circles, here are five takeaways from the vote and a look ahead to autumn’s vital parliamentary elections.
Notes from Poland is expanding, to create a new service offering comprehensive news and analysis. But we can only do this with your support. If, like us, you think that informed and independent reporting on Poland is more important than ever, please read more about our plans and join our crowdfunding campaign here: https://igg.me/at/notesfrompoland
Robert Biedron does not fit the typical profile of a successful politician in Poland. He is secular, liberal and gay in a country that is among the most religious, conservative and homophobic in the European Union. Yet the 39-year-old is carving out a reputation as one of the country’s rising political stars, and his success – as well as its possible limitations – says much about Poland and the ways in which it is (and isn’t) changing.
As well as being an unlikely figure in himself, Biedron has also taken an unusual route to prominence. Following an early career as a journalist and LGBT activist, Biedron made an abortive attempt to enter national politics with the Democratic Left Alliance (Sojusz Lewicy Demokratycznej, SLD). Standing as a candidate in Warsaw in the 2005 parliamentary election, he received a meagre tally of votes, after the party placed him low on their electoral list. Six years later, however, competing in the northern Gdynia district, this time in first position on the ticket of the liberal Palikot’s Movement, he won election, becoming Poland’s first openly gay member of parliament. Continue reading