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I UNDERSTAND
English Section

Polish opposition divided as election looms

18.07.2019 17:30
Despite weeks of intense talks Poland's opposition groups have failed to close ranks ahead of the country’s parliamentary elections this autumn.
Grzegorz Schetyna, leader of the Civic Platform (PO), Polands largest opposition party, gives a news conference in Warsaw on Thursday.
Grzegorz Schetyna, leader of the Civic Platform (PO), Poland’s largest opposition party, gives a news conference in Warsaw on Thursday.Photo: PAP/Piotr Nowak

Grzegorz Schetyna, leader of the Civic Platform (PO), Poland’s largest opposition party, announced on Thursday that his group was going into the parliamentary race without two key allies that it partnered with in the country’s European elections earlier this year.

Schetyna told reporters that the two groups, the rural-based Polish People's Party (PSL) and the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD), would not be part of the Civic Coalition alliance of “patriots and democrats” led by his Civic Platform party in the run-up to the autumn’s parliamentary vote.

Instead, 20 percent of the places on the Civic Coalition’s candidate lists will go to "civic" candidates, including private citizens, social activists, members of nongovernmental organisations, experts and local government officials, he said.

Schetyna spoke to reporters after senior politicians from his party on Thursday gathered to discuss strategy for the upcoming elections to Poland’s bicameral parliament.

"We are going into these elections as the Civic Coalition," Schetyna declared after the talks in Warsaw.

He added that the Civic Coalition would be an alliance of "all those who share the beliefs" of his PO party and its “vision of Poland," those who want to defend the rule of law and Poland’s position in the European Union.

Meanwhile, SLD leader Włodzimierz Czarzasty criticised Schetyna for “making a big step toward” enabling the ruling conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party to hold onto power after the elections.

Speaking at a press conference in the central city of Łódź, Czarzasty said that the Polish opposition's defunct European Coalition—an alliance formed ahead of May’s European Parliament elections by the PO, the PSL, Nowoczesna (Modern), the SLD and the Greens party—was the "largest and best project" uniting Polish opposition groups since the fall of communism three decades ago.


Włodzimierz Czarzasty, leader of the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD), talks to reporters in the central city of Łódź. Włodzimierz Czarzasty, leader of the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD), talks to reporters in the central city of Łódź.

Czarzasty announced talks with two other leftist leaders, Adrian Zandberg, head of the Left Together group, and Robert Biedroń, chief of the Spring party, to put up a united front in the elections.

Spring’s Biedroń told reporters at a separate news conference on Thursday that the three leftist parties had already decided to join forces in the parliamentary race.

"We have decided to create a new left-wing bloc that will run jointly in the elections," Biedroń told newsmen in front of the houses of parliament in Warsaw.


Robert Biedroń, leader of the Spring (Wiosna) party, talks to newsmen in front of the houses of parliament in Warsaw. Robert Biedroń, leader of the Spring (Wiosna) party, talks to newsmen in front of the houses of parliament in Warsaw.

Poland’s conservative leader Jarosław Kaczyński this month said at a convention ahead of parliamentary elections that his governing Law and Justice (PiS) party aimed to “maintain these good times for Poles.”

Kaczyński last month thanked voters who supported his party and its allies in May’s European elections and asked for more votes during the national parliamentary ballot in the autumn.

The ruling conservatives garnered 45.38 percent of the vote in Poland’s European Parliament ballot, while their arch-rival, the European Coalition alliance of opposition parties, scored 38.47 percent.

The vote on May 26 was a key test for Poland’s political parties ahead of national parliamentary elections in the autumn.

(gs/pk)

Source: PAP/IAR