Party leader rejects joint Polish opposition list and outlines “victory strategy”

The leader of Poland 2050 (Polska 2050), which is currently Poland’s second most popular opposition party according to polls, has rejected the idea of forming a joint opposition list to oust the ruling national-conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party.

Instead, Szymon Hołownia has outlined a four-point “victory strategy” for the opposition to persuade voters it is ready to govern, including holding a “substantive” debate between opposition leaders, visiting every district in the country, and an online “offensive”.

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Donald Tusk – leader of the centrist Civic Platform (PO), the largest opposition group – has pledged to “do his best” to “convince other opposition parties to join a joint bloc” at the next parliamentary elections, which are scheduled for autumn 2023 but could take place sooner amid conflicts within the PiS-led ruling coalition.

But, speaking to Polsat News this week, Hołownia confirmed that his party is “not planning joint lists with Civic Platform…because this is not a recipe for winning against PiS”.

He noted that the opposition had already unsuccessfully tried a joint bloc against PiS in European election. But Hołownia also admitted that too many parties standing has also been a problem in the past. “The key lies somewhere else,” he said.

But now is “not the time” to debate such issues, said Hołownia, given that it is still not known when elections will take place and what form the ruling coalition will be in by then. “Tactics must be established when we know how the opponent wants to arrange the battlefield,” he declared.

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Subsequently, Hołownia – who finished a surprise third as an independent candidate in the 2020 parliamentary elections before founding his Polska 2050 movement – unveiled his party’s “victory strategy” in a 10-minute presentation on YouTube.

“PiS is ending. We all feel it,” he said. Hołownia accused PiS of focusing on internal squabbles as its chairman, Jarosław Kaczyński, prepares for retirement instead of tackling the pandemic. “PiS will leave behind full cemeteries…200,000 victims of the pandemic,” he said.

Yet the “festering of those in power” has not translated into a boost in support for the opposition, Hołownia noted, citing a recent poll that showed only a quarter of Poles believe that the opposition is ready to govern.

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To break the impasse, the opposition ought to persuade 10% more of potential voters that it can govern by showing people that politics “after PiS” can accommodate voters from across the political spectrum. “Let’s convince the unconvinced,” he said.

“You can’t keep moving around the same blocs, because there aren’t any new ones,” continued Hołownia. “It is crazy to do the same thing over and over again and expect different results.”

As part of his plan, Hołownia called for a conference on 21 March. He invited the leaders of other opposition parties – Tusk, as well as Władysław Kosiniak-Kamysz of the centre-right Polish People’s Party (PSL) and Włodzimierz Czarzasty of The Left (Lewica) – to debate their policy proposals.

“Let’s show voters what a substantive conversation looks like,” he said. He also called on the opposition to visit every district in Poland and launch an online “offensive”.

PiS has won every election – parliamentary, presidential, European and local – since 2015. During that run of six victories, the opposition has tried a variety of combinations of blocs and parties, without success.

PO in particular has pushed for a united opposition. It currently leads the Civic Coalition (KO), which includes the liberal Modern (Nowoczesna) and Green (Zieloni) parties.

An average of polls compiled by Politico Europe currently puts PiS in the lead, with 36% support. It is followed by KO (25%), Poland 2050 (13%), the far-right Confederation (Konfederacja, 10%), and The Left (8%). All other parties are below the 5% electoral threshold.

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Main image credit: Jakub Wlodek / Agencja Gazeta

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