Election in Poland: European future

  • Marija Kadovic
  • 27.7.2020 10:54

Coronavirus, the biggest challenge of today's world, has brought into question the ability of many governments to meet current, as well as future challenges and demonstrated previously hidden weaknesses. Authorities in Poland faced the same problem and presidential election ended in an extremely tight race between two candidates with entirely different ideas in which direction the country should go.

The election that was supposed to take place in May 2020 in Poland was postponed, like in many other European countries due to coronavirus, for June 2020. In the second round of election in July, Andrzej Duda, social conservative allied with the government led by the nationalist Law and Justice Party (PiS), took victory over his opponent Rafal Trzaskowski, socially liberal mayor of Warsaw, and for the second time became the president of Poland. 

These were one of the most unpredictable elections in Poland since the fall of communism in which President Andrzej Duda managed to win 51.03 per cent of votes, while his opponent gained the support of 48,97 per cent of voters.

The importance of the presidential elections in Poland is best illustrated by the ideas of the presidential candidates especially in terms of values and beliefs. This mirrored the division that exists within the country's population about which approach should be taken - conservative or liberal (eastern or western). During his campaign, Trzaskowski expressed support for the LGBT rights, civil unions for same-sex couples, opposed to the tightening of abortion laws and the restoration of state support for in-vitro fertilisation (IVF). Opposing him Duda, who presents more conservative and religious values, such as that "LGBT ideology" is much more dangerous and destructive than communism. 

Factors that determined which presidential candidates voters support were age, education, and place of residence. While mainly young and better-educated voters that live in bigger cities supported Trzaskowski, citizens from rural areas, pensioners, and farmers, as well as unemployed people voted for Duda.

 

European path of Poland 

The presidential election determine the relations that Poland is going to have with the European Union in the upcoming years. With the victory of president Duda, the ruling Law and Justice Party (PiS) is going to continue controversial reforms to the judiciary, according to which Polish minister of justice is allowed to control and intimidate every judge. These reforms were criticised by the European Union, as well as by other international institutions. 

President Duda may also use this victory to establish greater control over the local governments, as well as over the critical private media. Having already established control over the state-owned television, authorities in Poland aim to tame the private media as well. 

 

“Instead of using financial help to straighten values that EU members states shared, it had the opposite effect, and it brought into question the core values of the European Union - democracy and the rule of law.” 

 

Despite all of the criticism that Polish authorities received from the European Union, neither President Duda nor the Law and Justice Party (PiS) would call for Poland leaving the bloc, both because of the support that membership in the European Union has among the Polish population, as well as economic aid they receive. In recent years, Poland was one of the countries that benefited the most from European Union economic support among the members. However, instead of using financial help to straighten values that EU members states shared, it had the opposite effect, and it brought into question the core values of the European Union - democracy and the rule of law. 

Although Poland was one of the most pro-European among the bloc of ex-communist eastern states, in recent years it has started undermining democracy and the rule of law. European members should not neglect the fact that in one of the member states the core values of the organisation are being violated. Economic aid received by the European Union is intended to increase solidarity, stability, and freedom.

In light of the recent election, it is imperative that the European Union remain resolute on core values.  If not, not only Poland but any country that neglects and refuses to comply with the law, that is equally binding for all member states must take responsibility for its action and be punished according to the law all countries accepted before joining the European Union. If the European Union decides to close eyes to the problem and let one of its members underpin values that hold all the members together, consequences would be irreversible, and the Union would lose its credibility.

About author: Marija Kadovic

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