Poll ratings for the Polish right-wing Confederation party have slipped to around 10 per cent in most surveys from about 15 per cent in the summer.
The slide looks to have been of greater benefit to the Liberal opposition led by Donald Tusk rather than Poland’s ruling Conservative (PiS) party ahead of the national elections on October 15.
Confederation is a nationalist and libertarian party, a rival to PiS on the Right. It has been drawing support among younger voters with its liberal and free-market stance. PiS is more conservative on social issues but interventionist and pro-welfare with regard to the economy.
Latest polling figures show PiS is maintaining a steady lead over the main Liberal opposition bloc (KO) led by Donald Tusk.
Still, that lead may not be large enough in the light of improved ratings for the Left party, and the so-called Third Way electoral alliance between two centrist parties (PSL and Poland 2050). Both have declared they want to form a government with the KO.
Leading Polish election specialist Marcin Palade told portal Salon24.pl that the ruling party’s polarisation strategy, emphasising identity issues, could be its undoing because it is “leaving space on its centre-right” that Third Way may fill.
Palade also said he felt the PiS strategy of trying to marginalise the Confederation party was not helping the ruling group. It is doing that by starving Confederation of access to public media and emphasising defence of Polish interests against those of Ukraine, an issue which was previously the domain of Confederation.
Political scientist Professor Rafał Chwedoruk, interviewed in conservative weekly DoRzeczy, agreed: “The [Confederation] party has come under far closer scrutiny from both its opponents and the media while being totally excluded from public media and marginalised in the pro-liberal TVN network and the opposition-leaning newspapers,” he said.
Current poll ratings suggests it will get fewer seats in parliament and that the seats it loses will be taken by other opposition parties rather than PiS, Palade contended.
According to him, the PiS campaign managers “have failed to understand that by adopting the polarisation strategy they have failed to sink either Confederation or Third Way and have actually opened up space for Third Way to survive and enter parliament, thereby making a PiS majority less likely and an opposition one possible”.
Chwedoruk also said the Confederation vote was being squeezed as election day approaches. Alongside Palade he said he believed PiS had turned to identity over social and economic issues in a bid to firm up its vote.
He also said the main opposition bloc led by Tusk had recently stepped back from its confrontational tone, now emphasising its willingness to work with other opposition parties such as the Left and the Third Way coalition.
Chwedoruk said he felt the Liberals have realised they would suffer if either the Left or Third Way were squeezed out, as they would need allies in parliament to form a government. That is why they are holding out olive branches and presenting a more upbeat front in a bid to attract undecided voters, he said.
The Left has succeeded in appearing more committed to women’s rights and a secular state than the Liberals, as well as seeming more pro-active over how to tackle Poland’s housing crisis.
Third Way, Chwedoruk said, was trying to differentiate itself from the Liberals, which was why it did not march alongside Tusk in a mass demonstration on October 1.
The professor said he believed the biggest loser of the past few weeks is the Confederation party. That, he said, was because the PiS “has stolen its thunder on taking a more sceptical stance on Ukraine” and the “Liberals have produced proposals for cutting tax”, similar to those of Confederation.
According to Politico Europe’s Poll of Polls, PiS enjoys 37 per cent support while Tusk’s opposition is on 30 per cent. Third Way has risen to 11 per cent, ahead of the Left and Confederation, both with 10 per cent.
When translated into seats, these figures would give Tusk’s bloc together with the Left and Third Way a narrow majority in the Polish Parliament.