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I UNDERSTAND
English Section

Polish leftists join forces ahead of elections

19.07.2019 14:55
In a move aiming to bolster their appeal to voters, three Polish leftist groups have joined forces ahead of the country’s parliamentary elections this autumn.
Robert Biedroń, Adrian Zandberg and Włodzimierz Czarzasty during a news conference in Warsaw on Friday.
Robert Biedroń, Adrian Zandberg and Włodzimierz Czarzasty during a news conference in Warsaw on Friday.Photo: PAP/Marcin Obara

The postcommunist Democratic Left Alliance (SLD), the anti-clerical, pro-gay Spring (Wiosna) party, and the Left Together (Razem) group, which advocates for welfare policies, on Friday announced they were putting up a united front and going into the elections together.

Spring leader Robert Biedroń, one of Poland’s first openly gay politicians, told reporters at a news conference outside the houses of parliament in Warsaw that the team-up marked “a big step for the Polish left, but even a bigger stride for Polish democracy.”

Left Together’s Adrian Zandberg said that the three leftist parties shared the same aim: “to build a modern welfare state in Poland."

He added that all three groups wanted "a Poland that is democratic and just … a Poland that does not leave anyone behind.”

SLD leader Włodzimierz Czarzasty said the three parties were joining forces in a bid to remove the country’s ruling conservatives from power.

"We want to offer a left-wing alternative to the Polish people," Czarzasty declared.

He added that the new alliance, called Left, was open to other left-leaning political parties as well as women's organisations, foundations and civil society groups.

The announcement of the new leftist alliance came a day after Grzegorz Schetyna, leader of the Civic Platform (PO), Poland’s largest opposition party, told reporters that his group was going into the parliamentary race without two key allies it partnered with in the country’s European elections earlier this year.

The SLD’s Czarzasty on Thursday 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 rural-based Polish People's Party (PSL), Nowoczesna (Modern), the SLD and the country's Greens party—was the "largest and best project" uniting Polish opposition groups since the fall of communism three decades ago.

As it stands, the Polish opposition appears to be set to enter the parliamentary election race divided into three separate blocs: the centrist Civic Platform allied with the liberal Modern party and the left-leaning Polish Initiative grouping; the new Left alliance formed by the SLD, Spring and Left Together; and a new Polish Coalition effort announced this month by the Polish People's Party.

Meanwhile, Poland’s conservative leader Jarosław Kaczyński this month said at a convention ahead of the parliamentary ballot that his governing Law and Justice party, which holds a strong edge over the opposition in pre-election polls, 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 election, 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: TVP Info, PAP