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Poland - 2015 Elections

Polish news magazine Wprost dropped a bomb when it released a secret recording of the central bank chief purportedly telling the interior minister he would support the government's economic policy if the then finance minister resigned. The weekly since released transcripts of other juicy exchanges, including one in which Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski allegedly calls Poland's U.S. ties "worthless" and blasts British Prime Minister David Cameron as "incompetent on EU affairs." The private conversations allegedly took place at chic Warsaw restaurants over the past 18 months.

Prime Minister Donald Tusk said on June 25, 2014 he would seek a confidence vote from parliament after secret recordings of senior officials plunged Poland into its worst political crisis in years. The opposition immediately called on Tusk to resign, but he refused. With 235 seats in the 460-member parliament, Tusk's two-party governing coalition -- the Civic Platform (PO) and junior partner Poland's Peasants Party (PSL) -- was likely to survive the vote. Indeed, the government of Poland’s Prime Minister Donald Tusk survived a parliamentary vote of confidence.

At the EU Summit in Brussels held on 30 August 2014, the European Union leaders appointed Donald Tusk as the next President of the European Council. He was due to take office on December 1, succeeding the current President Herman Van Rompuy. On 08 September 2014, the spokesperson for the President of Poland Bronislaw Komorowsky announced that Komorowsky will accept the Cabinet’s resignation and appoint a candidate for Prime Minister to form a new government. Tusk said 09 September 2014 that he had submitted his resignation. “I handed over the papers,” Tusk told journalists after a meeting of the country’s National Security Bureau.

President Komorowski officially swore in the new cabinet under Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz on 22 September 2014, with changes made to five ministries and departments, ahead of local government elections. Before being sworn in as Poland's new prime minister, Ewa Kopacz, a former health minister, resigned her position as lower house of parliament speaker.

It turned out that 44 percent of the population is happy with Ewa Kopacz in the new role, 29 percent is unhappy and 27 percent has no opinion on the matter, reported Polish Radio. Poland’s Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz summed up the first six months of her administration’s work at a press conference 31 March 2015. It took her 15 minutes to recapitulate the government’s achievements, which include the adoption of the Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence and the act aimed at regulating the in-vitro procedure.

The presidential election in Poland was held 10 May 2015. The leader of the opposition Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) and former Polish Prime Minister Leszek Miller described President Bronislaw Komorowski's election campaign as "anti-Russian diarrhea." Speaking 05 May 2015 on Polish RMF FM Radio, Miller said the anti-Russian direction President Komorowski had chosen to build his campaigning on is a serious blow to Polish-Russian relations.

Komorowski called on closer ties with NATO and the West as the only way to stand up to "the threats of the modern world," saying "military conflict has never been so close to Poland's borders." He called on EU budget deficit limits to be lifted regarding defense spending, to encourage European nations to allocate more money to the military.

The traditional ex-communist left, the Democratic Left Alliance party (SLD), was pushed to the margins by by nominating 35-year-old former soap opera actor and TV presenter Magdalena Ogórek as its candidate. Her PhD in history did not stop one political analyst dismissing her as a “bimbo”. Other candidates included Janusz Korwin-Mikkeon [pollig at 5%], whose party has lent support to UKIP’s grouping in the European parliament. Korwin-Mikke styled himself as a conservative libertarian, but has said there is no solid evidence that Hitler knew about the Holocaust and that it would be better for women if they were denied the vote.

A total of eleven candidates ran in the election, but none were likely to receive the more than 50 percent of the vote needed to avoid a May 24 runoff. Komorowski got 32.2 percent of votes and Andrzej Duda of the conservative Law and Justice party obtained 34.8 percent, according to the Ipsos exit polls. A rock musician, Pawel Kukiz, came in third with 20.3 percent. Poland’s president has a limited role, but oversees the armed forces and can veto and propose legislation. The presidential vote is widely seen as a curtain-raiser for a parliamentary election in October 2015.

Incumbent Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski, facing a surprisingly strong electoral challenge from conservative Andrzej Duda, conceded defeat 24 May 2015. His concession came a short while after voting ended and a key exit poll showed him trailing by a 53-47 percent margin. Komorowski, a strong early favorite to win a second 5-year term, spoke to supporters late in Warsaw, saying "I wish my challenger a successful presidency."

The victory for the 43-year-old challenger marked the first major electoral win for the opposition Law and Justice party that nominated him. The win ended more than eight years of political dominance by the incumbent's Civic Platform party. It also set the stage for what analysts predict will be a tight reelection battle later in 2015 between Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz -- a Komorowski ally -- and the conservative opposition. In Poland, the prime minister leads the government, but the president heads the armed forces and has a say in foreign policy and legislative initiatives.

Six days before Poland's the 25 October 2015 general election, a conservative opposition coalition led by the Law and Justice party was well ahead, according to the latest opinion poll. The survey by the IBRiS Institute for the Rzeczpospolita daily forecast that the conservative coalition was likely to receive 36 percent of the vote, fourteen percentage points more than the Civic Platform party of Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz.

The four other groupings apparently set to gain parliamentary representation would be the United Left coalition, with 11 percent, while the Polish People’s Party, the Modern party (known as nowoczesna.pl and founded recently by economist Ryszard Petru) and the Kukiz Movement (the brainchild of rock musician-turned politician Pawel Kukiz) will all garner six percent of the vote.

An July 2015 opinion poll carried out by the Estymator Institute for the Newsweek Polska weekly indicated that the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) would only just cross the 5 percent threshold needed to enter Poland's lower house of parliament. Both Your Movement and the Greens would fail to do so. Coalitions need 8 percent to enter parliament.

Poland has a bicameral Parliament consisting of the Senate with 100 seats and the Sejm with 460 seats. In the Senate, 100 members are elected by plurality vote in single-member constituencies to serve 4-year terms.

In the Sejm, 460 members are elected through an open-list proportional representation system to serve 4-year terms. There are 41 multi-member constituencies consisting of anywhere between 7 and 20 seats. Electors are required to cast a preferential vote for the candidate of their choice. All preferential votes are tabulated as votes for the candidate's party. There is a 5% threshold for parties and 8% threshold for coalitions. The threshold applies to the share of the total national vote, not the constituency. Candidates that belong to ethnic minorities are exempt from threshold requirements.

Poland’s general elections made history by having three women campaigning to lead the nation, with one almost certain to win. Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz of the ruling Civic Platform is fighting to keep her job facing a surging Beata Szydlo, who led the conservative opposition party Law and Justice. The third woman candidate leads a cluster of leftwing groups, and was not considered a serious contender.

The conservative Law and Justice Party (PiS) won the 25 October 2015 parliamentary elections in Poland with 37.7 percent of the vote, giving the party enough to form a government without a coalition, according to exit polls. Led by eurosceptic Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the party picked up 232 out of 460 seats in the lower house, compared to incumbent Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz's Civic Platform's showing of 23.6 percent, or 137 seats, the polls indicated. The exit polls showed only three other parties making it into parliament, one led by rock star Pawel Kukiz, a new pro-business party Modern Poland and the Polish Peasants Party. Leftist parties were voted out of parliament for the first time since the collapse of communism in 1989.

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Page last modified: 12-01-2016 19:13:23 ZULU