Dive into the intriguing world of European politics with our new video series, The Daily Discussion. In our latest episode, we delve into the upcoming Polish general election on October 15th. With Poland's growing influence in the European Union, the election results could potentially reshape the EU's future. Currently leading the polls is the Law and Justice Party, aiming for an unprecedented third term in office. However, with no party holding a majority, a coalition government is likely, potentially involving the controversial far-right Confederation party. The EU's relationship with Poland has been strained due to disagreements over judicial reform and women's reproductive rights, and Poland's close ties with Hungary, another contentious member of the EU. This election could potentially unblock Article 7 proceedings against Hungary and open up access to the EU's post-pandemic recovery funds for Poland. The election could also see a new Polish Prime Minister, possibly Donald Tusk, bringing a fresh perspective to the European project. All these topics and more are discussed in depth in our series, available exclusively on Nebula, where you can enjoy ad-free and exclusive videos.
This video is brought to you by Nebula. On Tuesday, Poland's president, Andrzej Duda, finally announced the date of the next Polish general election, October the 15th. Even two months out, all eyes are on the election, because, to put it bluntly, the election could change the fate of the EU. Depending on who ends up being Prime Minister after October the 15th, one of the EU's most important member states could well become yet more important. Before we start, if you haven't already, please consider subscribing and ringing the bell to stay in the loop and be notified when we release new videos. To properly understand what's going on here, let's break things down into three parts.
Why Poland is so important in the European Union, the broader context of the election domestically, and then the potential ramifications for the EU. First things first, Poland's place in the EU. Now, we've actually covered this before on the channel. In fact, we released a whole video on whether Poland is becoming a major European superpower, which is linked in the description. So, we won't get into the minute detail here, but the key takeaway was, and is, that Poland is becoming more and more weighty on the economic, political, and social stage of the European Union.
On the economic front, while Polish GDP per capita does not yet rival that of France, Germany, Italy, or even Portugal, the pace of GDP growth certainly does. Following the fall of the Soviet Union and the country's accession into the EU, Poland's GDP per capita has soared at a much, much faster rate than its European allies. Now, you could argue that this fast increase is just a matter of Poland catching up, something known as conditional convergence. The problem with that argument being that most believe that Poland's economic rise will continue, with the notable headline earlier this year that Poles will be wealthier than Britain by the end of the decade.
With that economic might comes political and military might too. Poland is an important member of the NATO military alliance, and despite recent diplomatic incidents, remains a key ally of Ukraine post-Russia's invasion. But enough background, let's talk directly about the election. As we mentioned right at the beginning, this election is highly contested and watched, with many suggesting that the election could end up seeing the ruling Law and Justice Party lose their grip on power. Though, if PIS manage to hold on, they could be headed for an unprecedented third term in office.
But what are the Poles actually saying? Well, according to Politico's poll of Poles, the Law and Justice Party is ahead, but by a slim margin at 36%. Donald Tusk's Civic Coalition is just six points behind on 30%. Under Poland's system of proportional representation, that means that neither the incumbents nor the challengers have, in and of themselves, a majority in parliament, meaning that a coalition is likely. Again, according to Politico's poll of Poles, in third place, and likely kingmakers, is Confederation Liberty and Independence, also known just as Confederation, at 13%. Confederation was once merely on the fringe of Polish politics, being on the right to far-right side of the political spectrum.
When Confederation was formed, its leader said that his aim was to create a Poland without Jews, homosexuals, abortion, taxes, and the European Union. He claimed that the comment was taken out of context, but the alliance of smaller far-right and liberal factions has in the past called for the scrapping of income tax, the banning of abortion, and the curtailment of migration, all whilst also expressing further hostility and opposition towards the EU and been more vocal against Poland's unconditional support for Ukraine. PIS has consistently dismissed speculation that it'll enter into coalition with Confederation, but it could be their only way to remain in office. Behind Confederation is the left on 10%, and then third way on 9%.
So, what's actually at stake? While Poland and the EU are, in the grand scheme of things, batting for the same team, they don't always see eye to eye. In fact, when looking at Poland's place in the EU, as an institution as opposed to the collection of countries, Poland goes from staunch ally to somewhat of a headache. Under the Law and Justice Party, Poland has come under fire from the European Union for breaching its core values, namely the rule of law. The EU and Poland have separately clashed on everything from proposed judicial reform and media reform through to the curtailment of women's reproductive rights.
What's also put Poland in the EU's bad books is the closeness of Poland with fellow headache Hungary. For years now, Poland and Hungary under Andrzej Duda and Viktor Orban have been seen as undermining European policy and institution. On the one hand, both have been incredibly vocal opponents of a number of European policies when it comes to the issue of migration. On the other, each is acting as a protective shield for the other. So, let's explain. The European Union, after noticing a breach of its core values, isn't powerless.
Whilst there's no mechanism to kick out a member state, under Article 7 of the Treaty of the European Union, there is a clear risk of a serious breach of the EU's core values. That member states can have their voting rights suspended. This is often dubbed as the nuclear option. The issue for the EU is that there are safeguards in place to prevent the misuse of this nuclear option. Safeguards that are getting in the way of dealing with either of Poland or Hungary. Under the process set out in the treaties, the European Parliament must vote to trigger Article 7 proceedings, and then the European Council must vote by unanimity on those proceedings. I. e.
a single no is enough to stop the proceedings in its tracks. Knowing this, there's a tacit agreement between Poland and Hungary to block Article 7 being used against the other. A change in Polish premiership could unblock Article 7 against Hungary, forcing Viktor Orban to change track or double down. There's also the question of money. The rule of law standoff between Poland and the EU has seen Poland's access to the EU's post-pandemic recovery funds highly limited. Access that totals some 35. 4 billion euros. And that's not to mention the 1 million euro a day fine leveled by the European Court of Justice for Poland's failure to shut down a judicial disciplinary chamber.
Again, if, and it's currently a big if, there's a change in Prime Minister, that money could be unblocked. Putting aside the rule of law issues, a new occupant of the Polish premiership could yet spark fresh impetus in the broader European project, given who any new occupant is likely to be. Donald Tusk. If you think you've heard that name before, you probably have. Donald Tusk has already been Prime Minister of Poland between 2007 and 2014, proceeding on to becoming President of the European Council from 2014 to 2019, a time period that spanned an incredibly tetchy time for the EU, to say the least.
If you enjoy diving deep into topics like this, if you're the kind of person who wants the even smarter and more analytical side of these stories, then you'll really enjoy our new series, The Daily Discussion, where we cover a number of other important topics from the endless coups in the Sahel region, the Twitter rebrand, or the specifics of the war in Ukraine. The TLDR writing team hosts these Daily Discussions most days, diving deeper into a news story we write about, and unpacking the hidden details that they found fascinating, but that were either too long or too academic to make it into the final script.
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