Poland is facing a change of government - but the road there is not entirely easy. Pictured: The leaders from the Citizens' Coalition are presented by Donald Tusk, former Prime Minister and President of the European Council (second person from the right). Photo: Club Lewisy. Source: Flickr.

Development magazine explains

Poland after the election: The citizens' coalition's turbulent struggle for democracy

In October, the people of Poland voted for the Citizens' Coalition as the winning party. Now the parties, under the leadership of Donald Tusk, aim to end a dark chapter of gradual erosion of the country's democracy. But even if the majority is secured, a complex road ahead awaits with political uncertainty and a struggle for government power against the ruling Law and Justice party.

Democracy and an EU-friendly Poland - these are the hopes after the election victory. Led by former Prime Minister and President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, the Citizens' Coalition secured a clear majority in both houses of parliament in the October elections.

The citizens' coalition, which consists of pro-EU and liberal parties, promises a pro-democracy policy. Among other things, they want to remove political pressure on Poland's courts, overturn a ruling that virtually bans abortion, separate the church from the state, and depoliticize the state media, military and intelligence services - which the current ruling party, Law and Justice (PIS), has caused. It reports BBC News.

- The end of the dark times, the end of law and justice, expressed the leader of the Citizens' Coalition Donald Tusk after the election, reports BBC News.

Even though Donald Tusk's coalition is agreed on a government formation and has a clear majority after the election comes the process of forming a new government be tough – as the conservative PIS party still holds the largest share of seats in the lower house, the Sejm, with around 35 percent of the vote.

However, it is uncertain whether PIS will be able to find coalition partners, as other parties are determined to break PIS's hold on power. According to Paula Röttorp, editorial writer at Svenska Dagbladet, the political situation in Poland is therefore likely to remain complex, with a possible period of political uncertainty while the opposition tries to find a way forward.

A dismantling of democracy for several years

2015 PIS has gradually eroded democracy in the country by having significant political influence over state institutions. Accordant Freedom House have a pee limited Poland's democratic conditions, including human rights and free courts.

Poland also has major problems with corruption, which has gradually worsened since 2015. Right now, the country ranks 45 out of 180 countries in the world in Transperancy Internationals corruption index.

Another widespread problem in Poland is the decreasing freedom of the press. After the PIS transformed the public media into propaganda instruments, control over private media and information on sensitive topics has been strengthened. This has led to Poland moving from position 20 to 57 in Reporters Without Borders ranking of press freedom.

The turbulent road ahead

It will take time for the opposition to form a government because the current president Andrzej Duda inhibits the opposition parties to take over power. In mid-November, the opposition's candidate was elected Speaker of the House of Commons - but despite this, the president is preventing the transfer of power.  

Another obstacle for Donald Tusk's coalition arose at the end of November, when President Andrzej Duda swore in a new government with it conservative party PIS. However, that government will not last long because a vote of confidence in the parliament will take place shortly. Then the current government, PIS, will most likely be abolished, reports Dagens Nyheter.

In addition, PIS is trying to destabilize confidence in Donald Tusk with the help of the state commission - which recommends that Tusk should not have political influence. Tusk dismisses this as smearing by the current government, reports Efeces.

Despite the turbulent road ahead for Donald Tusk and the citizens' coalition, a change of government is expected with Donald Tusk as prime minister enter into force in December. 

The state of Poland
  • The lower house of parliament, called the Sejm, has the legislative power in the country. The parliament consists of 460 members who are elected in general, proportional elections every four years. 
  • The president is elected directly by the people for a five-year term and can serve a maximum of two terms. The president proposes a prime minister, who is responsible in the Sejm. 
  • The president has overall responsibility for foreign and defense policy, but in reality the president's influence and powers are limited.   

Source: Foreign Policy Institute 

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