Opposition party leader: No enemies on our side

PO leader Grzegorz Schetyna (2R), Nowoczesna's Katarzyna Lubnauer (2L) and Barbara Nowacka (L). Photo: PAP/Grzegorz Michałowski

The leader of the Civic Platform, the dominant party in the Civic Coalition, has appealed to the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) , the Polish People’s Party and other opposition parties to unite against the ruling Law and Justice (PiS).

Click here to read an analysis from Poland in English.

Mr Schetyna made his pitch for unity in an interview for Poland’s influential daily “Rzeczpospolita”, published on September 14. Referring to the fact that both the SLD and the Polish People’s Party (PSL) were going into the local government elections fielding their own slates of candidates he was understanding but hoped that the situation would change in the future.

“Both the PSL and the SLD are fighting on their own terms. I tried to persuade them to stand together with us. They chose to go it alone to assess their strength in these local elections. They will draw their conclusions after these elections. These are not the last but the first elections. I have managed to persuade Katarzyna Lubnauer [leader of Modern Party - ed.] and Barbara Nowacka [leader of the left-of-centre Polish Initiative – ed.] to join forces with us [in the Civic Coalition-ed.] maybe in future I will be able to convince others. These elections will verify their strategies. I am not closing the door on them. I believe that the Civic Coalition will be enlarged before the European elections.”

Asked about Robert Biedroń, Poland’s first openly gay mayor’s plans to launch a new party, Mr Schetyna was critical.

“Mr Biedroń has a problem with defining himself politically. He attacks democratic forces before the local elections in which he is not standing. You cannot attack your future coalition partners…Attacking anyone on the opposition is in effect to support the government. There should be no enemies on the opposition side. We may not always agree but we must not try to destroy each other.”

Mr Schetyna added that the opposition needed to “first defend the separation of powers, the constitution and basic freedoms….Mr Biedroń has to decide whether he wants to defend local government against Law and Justice or to give up these islands of freedom to Mr Kaczyński” (ruling party leader-ed.).

Asked about the Civic Coalition’s policies Mr Schetyna said that the opposition would not enter into an “bidding war” with the government and would not promise to increase social spending. He confirmed, however, that the Civic Coalition had no plans to scrap the popular universal child benefit programme, 500+.

source: Source: Rzeczpospolita

Comment:

The leader of the largest opposition party has managed to persuade the Modern Party and the small left-of-centre party headed by Barbara Nowacka to join him in an electoral coalition. Now he is beginning to make his pitch to try and get the Polish People’s Party (PSL) and the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) on board.

This will be much harder.

Both the PSL and the SLD are well established parties that are likely to obtain representation at local government level. The better they do the more likely they are to maintain their separate identities and stand their own slates in the coming European Parliamentary and the Polish Parliamentary elections. Should they fail to do well in the European elections, then the Civic Coalition may be facing a situation in which it cannot form coalitions to rule in the provincial councils and any electoral coalition with SLD and PSL would then be daubed “the coalition of the losers”.

Mr Schetyna knows that he has to keep his electoral platform very general and focused on issues on which potential coalition partners agree – EU integration, the rule of law etc.

On economic policy he cannot strike out for a bold liberal agenda as that would mean the SLD and PSL would not support it. On axiomatic issues and church relations he cannot be too liberal without upsetting the PSL.

The joker in the pack could turn out to be Mr Biedroń. Polling research suggests that he would take votes primarily from the Civic Coalition. The chances of him joining Mr Schetyna’s electoral coalition are even slimmer than would be the case with PSL or the SLD, as that would prevent his new force from establishing its own identity. Any chance of striking a deal would only come if Mr Biedroń’s political venture fails to obtain representation in the European Parliamentary elections in May 2019.

But for now Mr Schetyna’s big headache is doing well in the local government elections. Recent opinion polls show him lagging well behind. They also show the mayoral races in Kraków and Warsaw tightening. The last thing Grzegorz Schetyna needs is to start off the Civic Coalition’s electoral history with a big local elections defeat.


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