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POLAND: Reports about Early Elections

Rumours of expedited parliamentary elections have been circulating the media since November. At the time, these have been denied by key government officials, including Michał Dworczyk who informed that no such plans were considered. However, at the beginning of December, after a closed meeting of the PiS leadership, the rumours re-emerged and are circulating the media and the parliament.

Initially, early general elections were discussed in the context of the European Parliament elections. Reportedly, in November the PiS leadership was considering holding both at the same time which would legally be possible. Holding both elections  simultaneously would benefit PiS, which boasts high support in smaller agglomerations and rural areas – these areas are also known to have a significantly lower turnout in EP elections.

Current speculation suggest that premature elections could be held earlier – in March, prior to the EP elections. This would allow the party to alter the sequence of events. A win in domestic parliamentary elections may boost the party’s support when Poles choose their MEPs. A second reason that is provided most often by commentators is surprising the opposition. PiS leader Jarosław Kaczyński has supposedly argued that the ruling party can secure a safe win if the opposition is not given enough time to unite.

A parliamentary vote of 3/5 in favour of early elections is unlikely. Therefore, PiS would have to sabotage its 2019 budget bill with the support of the President. According to the Constitution, the budget bill has to be signed by the President within 4 months of its submission to the Sejm. If the bill is not passed the President may decide to call early elections. This appears viable as the budget bill vote is planned for January near the end of the 4-month period. Still, in view of the PM’s financial focus and the narrative of economic achievemnts, it will be hard to explain to voters why Poland has to function without a budget for a considerable time.

Despite intensifying rumours, early elections are unlikely. The ruling party would have to take a significant gamble and jeopardise its term. Using budget bill procedures as a mean for early elections will damage the perception of PM Morawiecki. Potential gains may not necessarily be worth such risks when further opposition coalitions are uncertain. Furthermore, in 2007 during PiS’ previous government, Jarosław Kaczyński issued early elections. As a consequence, his party lost to the PO-PSL coalition.