On October 15, the legislative elections took place in Poland. The campaign was characterized by different scandals and tricks, including the publication of the plans of defence of Poland, not contemporary ones for sure, but nevertheless. The stakes were very high with the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party competing to remain in power, and the Civic Coalition (KO), a catch-call political alliance and opposition to PiS striving to get back to power that it lost as a result of 2015 parliamentary elections.
According to the Polish electoral commission, the ruling party PiS won the elections with 35,38% of votes, while PO arrived second obtaining 30,7%. Even though it may seem that PiS should be celebrating the victory, in reality, they didn’t get enough votes to have the majority and unilaterally form the government. Thus, different scenarios are possible, but most likely it will be up to the opposition parties to create a coalition and rule the country.
Different circles in West Europe endorsed the results and some didn’t hide their joy, especially given that PiS was carrying out a rather independent policy and quite sceptical about the excessive migration in the EU, going even as far as blocking the final declaration at the EUCO summit end of June, protesting this way against forced relocation of migrants.
The migration issue was present in different speeches in the wake of the elections. On October 5 or 10 days before the election day, the President of Poland, Andrzej Duda made a strong statement on migration issues, bringing it to the referendum: “Today, European elites, ruling groups in Europe are trying to impose on European nations their opinion, their position, their ideological approach to this issue. We do not agree with this, we believe that the most important thing is the will of nations, and therefore in our absolute belief the referendum is a measurable sign of what the will of Poles is.”
As for Donald Tusk, Head of the opposition Civic Platform, he voiced his stance on migration end of September, less than a month before the elections. And his message was rather clear: “When I become a prime minister, a minister in charge of security, I will not be a humanitarian or migration activist, I will be responsible for the security and tightness of the border and territory.” Interesting to note that back in 2017 Donald Tusk, then the EU Council head, said that the obligatory migrant quotas “have no future”.
But despite the strong political messages, the migration issue was not important for the voters in the context of the electoral campaign. For instance, according to the survey conducted in March 2023 by SW Research for one of the leading Polish newspapers Rzeczpospolita, the economy and inflation were the number one priority for 47.4% of Polish respondents. Followed by the war between Russia and Ukraine (13,5%) and Poland’s relations with the EU (10,5%). Only 2% of the respondents answered that the most important topic would be foreign policy.
Another poll carried out by Kantar, as well in March 2023, for “Facts” TVN and TVN24 channels, only confirmed the results of the previous poll pointing out three key issues that bothered the voters: healthcare, economy and inflation as well as the issues related to education.
Last September, following the “visa scandal”, the poll conducted by United Surveys for RMF FM and Dziennik Gazeta Prawna pointed out that the opinion of the Poles regarding their country’s migration policy has split. For instance, 33,6% of respondents considered the Polish migration policy as good, while 32,2% as bad. It also was not a surprise to find out that 75% of respondents who supported PiS had a good opinion of migration policy, while 57% of those who supported opposition parties had a negative opinion.
But the referendum that took place the same day as the parliamentary elections in Poland should not be ignored. Among the four questions asked, two concerned migration and protection of borders. For instance, 94,04% of voters answered negatively to the question about the necessity to liquidate the border fence on the border with Belarus, while 96,79% also responded negatively to the question regarding the admission of illegal migrants from the Middle East and Africa under the forced relocation mechanism imposed by the EU.
Hence, the question arises. Is migration an important issue for the Poles? Naturally, we can say so, but it seems things are a bit more complicated. No matter what, the migration issue will remain high on the political agenda, especially in the Polish relations with Brussels, whatever will be the configuration of the government that is yet to be formed.
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