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POLAND: Future for SLD
In the 2015 parliamentary elections, PiS gained a significant number of voters who defected from other movements, including SLD – the Left Democratic Alliance. SLD and PiS share somewhat similar economic policies, favouring greater state intervention. Their views on social policy, however, differ significantly, with PiS adopting a much more conservative line on issues such as abortion.
SLD joined the United Left coalition during the past election but failed to pass the electoral threshold although gaining sufficient votes to retain state financing. While the United Left was a temporary electoral coalition, there are increasing calls to create a more permanent structure to unite Poland’s left. At this moment, SLD’s support levels are even reaching 10% and the party hopes to take back some of the electorate that defected to PiS. SLD is also very strong locally, with structures in 340 counties. The local elections will be a decisive moment which will show whether the left returns to Polish politics. In recent months, the leader of SLD Włodzimierz Czarzasty has appeared more in the media. Previously, many younger activists were unwilling to support him and were considering leaving the party altogether. Right now, there is hope that Czarzasty can attract cooperation from other groups before the 2019 parliamentary elections. Smaller parties do not just struggle to cross the electoral threshold; Poland’s electoral seat distribution calculus also discriminates against smaller groups in favour of larger, well-organised movements. Still, it is not certain SLD will want to take the same risk as it did with the United Left.