Political newcomer in Poland poaches support from defeated PO

Political newcomer in Poland poaches support from defeated PO
By Henry Kirby December 3, 2015

Poland’s Civic Platform (PO) would win only 15% of the popular vote if a general election were held at the end of November, according to a poll by research organisation IBRiS.

PO, now the official opposition party in Warsaw, has seen its support dwindle following their defeat in October’s parliamentary election, when it lost control of the Polish Sejm to the populist Law and Justice (PiS), having ruled for eight years. PO’s support now sits at 15%, down from the 24.1% of the vote it won in October.

The poll also revealed that political newcomer and former World Bank economist Ryszard Petru and his centrist pro-EU Modern Party (Nowoczesna) would comfortably take PO’s place as the official opposition if elections were held then, increasing its October share of the vote by 15.4 percentage points (pp) to 23%.

As the bne:Chart shows, the majority of parties that ran in the October election still hold similar levels of support to those they held during the election, apart from PO and Nowoczesna, suggesting that Petru’s boost in support has come from PO’s voter base.

Nowoczesna’s economically liberal and pro-European outlook is a far cry from PiS’ isolationist rhetoric and populist policies. Unlike the socially conservative PiS, Nowoczesna is pro-abortion, supports a separation of religion and the state, aims to reduce the power of the trade unions, and is in favour of EU cooperation over issues such as accepting refugees.

Along with its socially liberal policies, Nowoczesna is pro-market, in favour of a slimmed-down public sector, and promotes small and medium-sized enterprises.

Critics of PiS argue their social spending pledges will hurt Poland’s balance sheet. Plans to lower VAT and income tax rates, boost child benefit and lower the retirement age are all on the cards, while a levy on banking assets and a financial transaction tax are intended to offset the fiscal burden that these pledges will likely cause.