The ruling Conservative PiS government in Poland will ask voters whether they want the recently constructed wall on the border with Belarus dismantled as one of four questions in a referendum to take place on the same day as national elections on October 15
“Do you support the removal of the barrier on the border between Poland and Belarus?” is among the four questions to be asked that were announced over the weekend of August 12-13 by the ruling party.
The query seems designed to remind voters that the Liberal opposition led by Donald Tusk was sceptical about the border defence being constructed and has accused the government of inhumane treatment of illegal migrants attempting to cross into Poland.
The first question in the referendum ballot will be phrased: “Do you support the sell-off of state-owned enterprises?” That is posed to point out to voters that during their time in office Tusk’s Liberals were engaged in privatising publicly owned companies.
Another question posed will be: “Are you in favour of raising the retirement age which today is 60 for women and 65 for men?'”. That is designed to remind voters that when in office between 2007 and 2015 the Liberals had raised the retirement age from 60 for women and 65 for men to 67 for both sexes. In 2015, the PiS stood on a pledge to reverse that decision and it kept its promise
The last referendum and fourth question was originally set to be the only one: “Do you support the acceptance of thousands of illegal immigrants from the Middle East and Africa, according to the forced relocation mechanism imposed by the European bureaucracy?”
The language is carefully worded to avoid any interpretation that Poles might want to oppose Ukrainian migration and uses the term “European bureaucracy” rather than “European Union”.
All four questions are phrased in such a way as to encourage a response of “No”. They are designed to target the views of Tusk’s Liberal opposition and imply it is not in tune with the mood of the voters. This, the ruling party hopes, will lead the electorate to reject the opposition and stick with the present administration come polling day.
The opposition parties have been put on the spot by the referendum proposals. They have been saying that voters do not have to and should not have to be subjected to what they consider to be tendentious questioning. Despite that, they have not openly called for a boycott as they want their supporters to turn out in maximum numbers for general elections.
According to the Polish Constitution, the result of such a referendum is valid only if the turnout is above 50 per cent. The only referendum in Polish political history since it regained independence in 1989 in which that turnout was realised was one on EU membership in 2003.