PM Donald Tusk (L) and New Left co-chairman Wlodzimierz Czarzasty (R) are not only government allies but also on the verge of agreeing a deal to stand together in the local and European parlaimentary elections. EPA-EFE/MARCIN OBARA POLAND OUT


Tusk looks set to to run with the Left in European elections


Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk’s Civic Coalition (KO) is close to agreeing to stand in this year’s local and European Parliament elections together with the Left party, with which it shares power at central governmental level.

Tusk had made it clear he wanted all the parties that make up his governing coalition to form one list in the local elections but that was thwarted by those in the Third Way electoral alliance: the Polish People’s Party (PSL) and Poland 2050.

Third Way is still buoyed by the successful campaign in last October’s parliamentary election, when it won 14.4 per cent of the vote, and the popularity of the Speaker of Parliament Szymon Hołownia, who leads Poland 2050.

The decision taken by Third Way means Tusk’s preferred option of all the parties that make up the Government uniting on one list (KO, Third Way, Left), will not occur for the local elections.

The best that can now be achieved is for the ruling coalition to face the voters on two lists; one for Third Way and one on which the KO will unite with the Left.

On January 22, the Left, part of the Socialists and Democrats group in the European Parliament, authorised Włodzimierz Czarzasty and Robert Biedroń to negotiate an election deal with the KO. A final decision on the matter is to be taken by the party on February 12.

It remains to be seen whether Together, a smaller left-wing party in an electoral alliance with the larger Left, will sign up to the wider coalition, as it has refused to join the Government though supports it in Parliament.

The local elections are scheduled for April 7, with a second round of voting in mayoral elections due two weeks later. The European Parliament elections will follow on June 9.

The local elections are a more complex affair as they involve an all-out contest for the three tiers of Polish governmental levels: municipal, county and regional.

While at the municipal and county tiers many of alliances will be local and “non-party”, in the big cities and in the regional elections party lists will dominate.

The former ruling Conservative (PiS) currently governs in seven out of 16 regions and the present ruling coalition parties hope to reduce that to just three, with some optimists believing they could take power in 15 of the 16.

Tusk’s party succeeded in creating a joint list for the 2019 European parliamentary elections when the KO, PSL and the Left, standing as the European Coalition and taking 38.5 per cent of the vote, losing out to the PiS that managed 45.4 per cent.

That led the PSL to seek other alliances and meant a joint list was not repeated in subsequent parliamentary elections.

The KO is dominated almost totally by the party Tusk founded, the Civic Platform (PO), which was originally a party of the centre-right and which today is a member of the EPP in the European Parliament.

In recent years, Tusk’s party and the KO have swung to the Left, especially in respect of issues such as abortion and LGBT rights.

Therefore, observers say, an alliance with the Left – to which the PO was once strongly opposed – is no longer seen as problematic.