Poland’s opposition parties have secured a solid victory in the country’s much-anticipated parliamentary elections, bringing a likely end to eight years of right-wing populist rule in Warsaw. In an election result viewed internationally as a victory for liberal democracy, the ruling Law and Justice party (PiS) finished first at the polls but fell short of securing a majority in parliament.
The ruling bloc is likely to make a last-ditch attempt to secure remain in power, which will most likely prolong the road to a new government, however the lack of PiS allies should eventually allow Poland’s ideologically and structurally diverse opposition to form the country’s next cabinet. This scenario entails the eventual return of centrist-liberal ex-Prime Minister Donald Tusk, the leader of the main opposition Civic Coalition alliance (KO), as PM by the end of this year.
In addition to the KO, an incoming Tusk-led government could be supported by the centrist-agrarian Third Way alliance and Lewica, a left-wing multi-party alliance. With such an experimental coalition at the helm, political stability will likely be tested even in the short term and will remain a key issue to monitor. However, all three moderate opposition formations are united in their efforts to prevent PiS from returning to power, which will likely keep the incoming coalition together.
The incoming government is widely expected to improve Poland’s strained relations with Brussels and, eventually, implement a series of EU-required reforms necessary to unlock €35.4 billion in postpandemic EU recovery funding. As PM, Tusk will likely also look to reset Warsaw’s relations with France and Germany, whilst maintaining Poland’s historically strong ties to the US and repairing relations with Kyiv after recent setbacks.