Published on November 14th, 2023

On November 6, Poland had just started looking for a new government, almost three weeks after the Polish elections. President Andrzej Duda has entrusted outgoing Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki to try to form a new government in the next two weeks1. Law and Justice (Prawo i Sprawiedliwość, PiS in short) lost the majority in the Sejm, the lower house of Poland, going down from 43.6% of the votes to 35.38% after the elections that took place on the 15th of October2. Still, the decision was made to “continue the good parliamentary tradition according to which the winning party is the first to be allowed to form a government.”, Duda said3

The opposition, Civic Coalition (Koalicja Obywatelska, KO in short), Third Way (Trzecia Droga), and The Left (Lewica), have promised to form a government after the two weeks that the current candidate has. The combined seats of the three parties would be enough to reach 248 seats, being 53.91% of the total of the Sejm4. Therefore, if the outgoing Prime Minister fails to form a government in the next two weeks, Morawiecki will hold a confidence vote, and then, the parliament will be in charge of appointing a new government between the opposition. Poland can probably expect a new Tusk-led government in December 2023. 

The elections had a record turnout, nearly 75%, surpassing the previous record of 1989, which decided the future of the country, leaving the communist system behind5. This great mobilisation occurred thanks to two key groups of voters: young people and women. Among 18 and 29 aged people, 71% voted in the elections, which contrasts enormously with the past elections, where only 46% of young people voted. Fewer than half of the youngest voters opted for either PiS or KO. At the same time, women also voted in huge numbers, surpassing the number of men voters for the first time. The participation of these groups of voters was key for the opposition’s win6

For Europe, this turnout means a crucial change. First of all, the results suggest that the majority of Poles wish to be a country in the European Union, aiming for openness and tolerance instead of the laws that the current government has been imposing since 2014. Within these measures, we find a ban on abortion, with the only exception of rape, incest, or if the life of the mother is at risk7. Secondly, a close approach to European values will enormously improve the tense relationship between Poland and Brussels in the past years. The next government is expected to end the fighting with the European Union and become a proactive member of the organisation. 

PiS, which is part of the European Conservatives and Reformists8, has made Poland face an Article 7 procedure, which is freezing 36 billion euros of the 75 billion to which Poland is entitled and could strip it of its voting rights. This decision was made because of what the European Union saw as a politicisation of the court system9.

Donald Tusk, the leader of the KO, part of the European People’s Party10 was formerly President of Poland, from 2007 to 2014. During his seven-year term, Poland continued to maintain economic growth, and in the time of crisis, the Polish economy grew by almost 20%, a record performance in Europe, while playing an important role in the European Union11. He has promised to reverse many of PiS’s policies, bringing closer and restoring Poland’s alignment with the EU once again. He knows well the goals and aims of the EU, being himself the former President of the European Council12
Alongside the elections, there was a referendum on four questions, with only two short answers: for or against: privatisation of nationalised companies, raising the retirement age, removing the barrier between Belarus and Poland, and supporting the admission of thousands of illegal immigrants. The turnout of the referendum was significantly lower than the elections, just around 40%, which didn’t reach the minimum of the 50% required for a referendum to be valid13.

  1. The Associated Press. President taps Poland’s outgoing prime minister to form new government despite lack of a majority. ABC News. Retrieved from: ↩︎
  2. Politico, Poland heads to the polls. Retrieved from: ↩︎
  3. Olech, M. Prezydent w orędziu: Jeżeli misja przedstawiciela PiS się nie powiedzie wówczas w kolejnym kroku to Sejm wybierze kandydata na premiera, a ja niezwłocznie powołam go na to stanowisko. 300Polityka. Retrieved and translated from: ↩︎
  4. National Electoral Office. Results of the vote by the committee. Retrieved from: ↩︎
  5. Le Monde. Final count in Polish election shows huge win for pro-EU opposition. Retrieved from: ↩︎
  6. Zerka, P. Message in a ballot: What Poland’s election means for Europe. Retrieved from: ↩︎
  7. BBC News. Poland enforces controversial near-total abortion ban. BBC News. Retrieved from: ↩︎
  8. European Conservatives and Reformists. European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) Party. Retrieved from: ↩︎
  9. Cienski, J. Poland’s Duda nominates Morawiecki in no-hope bid to form a new government. Politico. Retrieved from: ↩︎
  10. European People’s Party. Parties and partners. Retrieved from: ↩︎
  11. European Council. Biography of Donald Tusk. Retrieved from: ↩︎
  12. Matthijs, M. How Poland’s election results could reshape Europe. Council on Foreign Relations. Retrieved from: ↩︎
  13. National Electoral Office. Results of voting in Nationwide Referendum 2023. Retrieved from: ↩︎


Aimar Vega

Voting Guide Team Member

Aimar is Spanish and he’s from AEGEE Alicante! He’s a member of the Voting Guide team with his wonderful colleagues. He’s studying a dual degree in Law and International Relations, which he thinks fits right with the topic of the project, since he thinks a strong and united EU can help a lot, improving the quality of life of everyone within (and hopefully, without) its borders. A little secret: actually, the European elections of 2019 were his first time voting!