Prime Minister Tusk's center-left coalition wins regional elections in Poland. Cities controlled by PiS can breathe a sigh of relief.

Two Polish politicians encourage their followers.

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk (right) and Warsaw Mayor Rafał Trzaskowski are satisfied with the election results Photo: Kacper Pempel/Reuters

Poland's new center-left coalition has passed the first test of mood following the parliamentary elections in October 2023. Although the national populists surrounding party leader Jarosław Kaczyński of the Law and Justice Party (PiS) claim victory in Polish regional and local elections, PiS has a big problem: it has only one potential coalition partner: the far-right “Confederation”. “. So things are not looking good for them.

The “PiS victory” of almost 34 percent of the vote for the 16 Sejmiki (state parliaments) could quickly turn into a defeat. In addition to its own almost 32 percent, the liberal-conservative Citizens' Platform (PO) can also bring into play those of the Third Way (13.5 percent) and the New Left (almost 7 percent). Ultimately, the new center-left coalition is likely to take power in most regional parliaments at the voivodeship level.

Client policy par excellence

In the main cities of Poland, the PO has constituted almost all city presidents for years. However, this resulted in the PiS government massively cutting government subsidies to these “PO cities” as well as all non-PiS local administrations over the past eight years. It had nothing to do with democracy.

The PiS government also did not apply for EU grants from the Corona Reconstruction Fund, billions of euros of which would have mainly benefited cities and regional administrations. The PiS wanted to weaken the PO, but this mainly affected the citizens. The consequences were canceled investments, closure of social facilities and fewer cultural offerings. Instead, PiS government politicians toured the country and generously distributed checks to pro-PiS mayors and municipalities.

Let's hope that, with the results of the last two elections in Poland, this will soon come to an end. The center-left coalition can now introduce a new law without party proportionality, but in consultation with cities and municipalities, which will return to regional and local governments their independence from the headquarters in Warsaw. The only person who would have to play along is the Polish president, Andrzej Duda.