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Poland’s united opposition splits up into two blocs

Warsaw, Poland – Poland’s main opposition parties split up into two centre-right and left-wing blocs ahead of the national elections to be held this autumn.

Poland’s opposition breaks up into two separate alliances

The Civic Platform (PO), the main opposition group, announced the end of the European Coalition and said it was teaming up with two smaller centre-right parties, including Nowoczesna, in a new alliance.

“We believe that only this new formula will stand a chance against PiS”, Civic Platform chairman Grzegorz Schetyna (picture above) told reporters.

A separate left-wing coalition will be formed by Robert Biedron‘s progressive Wiosna (Spring) party with several parties, including Razem and the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD). In light of recent polls, it’s unsure this left-wing coalition will be able to reach the 8% threshold needed to enter parliament. In 2015, an alliance of left-wing parties received only 7.5% of the votes, failing to send any MPs in Parliament.

The end of the European Coalition

This change of strategy comes a few weeks after the European Coalition, gathering both centre-right and left-leaning movements, lost to the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party in the European Parliament elections last May.

Although Biedron had long argued he wished to remain independent in an attempt to emerge as a new alternative force in Poland’s political landscape, he recently declared he was in favour of initiating talks to cooperate with the European Coalition, centered around the Civic Platform.

But the prospect of joining forces with Biedron’s progressive party alienated the agrarian, Christian-Democratic Polish People’s Party (PSL), who had already said it was ready to create its own political grouping in the wake of the European Coalition’s EU election defeat. Such an alliance would “not be in line with principles and the manifesto of our party”, PSL chairman Wladyslaw Kosiniak-Kamysz said at the time.

Political suicide or sound strategy?

The move to split the opposition into two blocs remains controversial. Some analysts believe it further undermines the opposition’s ability to defeat the ruling conservative party of Jaroslaw Kaczynski, riding high in polls at more than 40% well ahead of the Civic Platform and other competing parties.

Włodzimierz Czarzasty, leader of the Democratic Left Alliance, accused both the PSL and PO of handing PiS a victory on a golden platter.

But according to others, it’s the only viable strategy to keep the Law and Justice party from securing its goal of a two-thirds majority in Parliament, that would allow PiS – like Viktor Orban’s Fidesz in Hungary – to change the constitution more or less at will.

To be able to alter the constitution, PiS would need 307 seats in the 460-seat lower house of Parliament, the Sejm – compared to its current 235 seats.

“The opposition going in two blocs, a centrist one and a leftist one, could spur a greater mobilization of leftist voters, and that could lead to more seats for the democratic opposition”, according to Agnieszka Kwiatkowska, a sociologist at SWPS University.

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