The opposition has won the a majority of the votes in elections with a combined total of 248 seats in the next parliament. People on the move continue to be caught in stand-off between the Belarussian regime and pushbacks by the Polish authorities.
The country’s opposition leader Donald Tusk and his Civic Platform party alongside two smaller partners have won a combined 248 of the 460 seats in the next parliament, according to the country’s final election results. The majority provides a path to form a coalition government taking the far-right populist Law and Justice (PiS) party led by Jaroslaw Kaczynski governing Poland since 2015 out of power. The ruling right-wing PiS remains the biggest party in the lower house of parliament with 194 seats, according to the results, but an alliance with the far-right Confederation party, which won 18 seats, would not be enough for a majority. However, it is expected that PiS will be given the chance to form a government when parliament meets in the next 30 days. But if PiS fails, Tusk will be heading the government in December. “It’s the end of the bad times. It’s the end of PiS rule. We made it,” Donald Tusk, leader of the liberal opposition Civic Coalition (KO), told supporters in Warsaw after the announcement of the first exit poll on 16 October. “I am the happiest man on earth,” he said, adding “Democracy has won. Poland has won”. “It will be quite an experiment to roll back illiberalism in Poland, but it has implications for other countries,” Piotr Buras, director at the European Council on Foreign Relations told the Guardian, explaining “For Slovakia, for Hungary, for Serbia, for other countries, it should be a very positive message.” “We have to have hope that regardless of whether we are in power or in opposition, our project will continue,” said Kaczynski. “We will not let Poland lose [the] right to decide its own fate.”
Migration was one of the most heated topics in the election campaign and even the opposition adopted anti-migration rhetoric. The government campaign was shaken by reports indicating its complicity in the issuance of hundreds of thousands of temporary work visas by the country’s consulates in return for bribes. Prior to the elections, “PiS threatened the public that if the Civic Platform (PO) comes to power, thousands of illegal, potentially dangerous migrants will come to Poland” including “Islamic fighters”. Despite both camps’ opposition to the EU asylum and migration pact, PiS MEP Zdzisław Krasnodębski speculated the opposition is more likely to pay to avoid the acceptance of migrants. “PO will reject any solutions that would mean accepting even more migrants to Poland, which still faces the increased pressure due to the Ukrainian refugees”, PO spokesperson Jan Grabiec told Euractiv.
People on the move are caught in a “political game” that keeps exposing them, as reported by grassroots group, Grupa Grania. “On one side is the Belarus of President Alexander Lukashenko who has pushed people to the border in an alleged attempt to destabilize Europe. On the other, Poland has responded with indiscriminate pushbacks, a sealed border, and pressure exercised on anyone providing aid, bordering on intimidation”, the group told Info Migrants. In 2022 alone, Poland refused entry to 23.330 third country national according to Eurostat. In addition, 50 bodies have been recovered in the Bialowieza forest although activists believe the number of missing and dead people is higher. In light of the ongoing humanitarian tragedy at Poland-Belarus border, Grupa Grancia has been collecting donations to continue the support it provides to people on the move. Meanwhile, reports of pushback continue as the authorities deployed in the last few weeks more than 4000 border guards in addition to the already existing five-meter-long wall surrounded by surveillance system allegedly due to the “presence of Wagner mercenaries in Belarus”.
For further information:
- ECRE, EU Eastern Borders: Member States Approve Extension of Temporary Protection for Ukrainians, Crisis Package Agreed by Council Despite Poland and Hungary Veto, Lithuania to Install Physical Barriers in Marshy Border Areas with Belarus and Russia, 6 October
- ECRE, EU Eastern Borders: Poland’s Conservative Party Shaken by Visa-for-Cash Scandal, Polish Doctor Treating Refugees Say Patients Asked for Longer Hospitalisation Fearing Pushback, Commission Wants to Admit Bulgaria to Schengen Zone Amid Reports of “Endemic” in Corruption in Asylum & Migration and Rise of Violent Pushbacks Along its Border with Turkiye, 22 September