CZ/SK verze

Poland After the Elections: Where Did the Right-Wing Voters Go and What Does It Mean for the Railways?

Poland After the Elections: Where Did the Right-Wing Voters Go and What Does It Mean for the Railways?
photo: / Public domain/Illustrative photo
11 / 04 / 2024

There's political diversity and challenges in post-election Poland. After the recent elections, the question remains where the right-wing voters have gone and what impact this will have on the country's railway policy.

Elections for local governments, regional (voivodeship) councils, and the first round of direct elections for mayors and city mayors have multiple winners. In terms of the whole of Poland, Law and Justice won the most seats with 34.27%, the Civic Coalition won at 30.59%, the Third Way represented in the governing coalition at 14.25%, the far-right Confederation at 7.23%, and the governing Left Party 6.32%. Various independent candidates won 14.25% of the vote.

Nominally speaking, Law and Justice recorded its ninth consecutive victory in various elections and its best-ever result in local government elections. However, the result hides a structural weakness. That is to say, the continuing outflow of right-wing voters, both in Warsaw and in the big cities.

The direct elections for mayors, held in two rounds if necessary, were overwhelmingly won by the Civic Coalition. In the ranking of Poland's 100 largest cities, the right did not win in any of them. Its candidates advanced to the second round in only sixteen cities. Only 12% of the population lives in large cities. The trend of voter attrition has long been worrying for the right. It is particularly pronounced in Warsaw, where Rafal Trzaskowski of the Civic Coalition defended the post of mayor (president) with more than 57%.

The right will continue to be the strongest party in the provincial parliaments (Sejmik) in the seven regions of central and eastern Poland. The Civic Coalition will have a majority in nine. Both Prime Minister Tusk and opposition leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski have tried to make this election a small referendum to confirm or reject the government. Neither of them can interpret the result as their clear victory.

The Third Way formation has defended its parliamentary result and indicated that its success in finding a place between two strong blocs was not accidental. Its result marks a success and a victory of sorts in any case. On the other hand, at the level of local government, the Left Party failed and was overtaken by a conglomerate of right-wing Confederation groups.

From the rail transport point of view, the Polish voivodships and their self-government are important for the organization of passenger rail transport. Voivodships, like the South Moravian Region in the Czech Republic, have their own transport, acquire railway vehicles, organize transport, and invest. In the last decade in Poland, transport-competent politicians have grown up in regional governments. It is, therefore, no coincidence that Alan Beroud, the successful manager of the Warsaw railway SKM (Szybka Kolej Miejska), became PKP's general manager, and Piotr Malepszak, who successfully revitalized rail transport in the Lower Silesia Voivodeship and also worked for the railways of the Gdańsk, Gdynia, and Sopot agglomerations, was appointed Deputy Minister of Infrastructure for Railways by the Prime Minister.