Conflict or Conciliation? The Polish elections of 2023 and their consequences for the EU

Författare: Styczyńska Natasza

On 15 October, Poland will decide: four more years of strained relations with Brussels, or a government which will seek rapprochement? With just over a week to go, Natasza Styczyńska (Jagiellonian University) describes the state of play, how Poland got here, and where it might be heading. (2023:13epa)

Poland was long seen as a major success story of European integration, not least economically. But since Law and Justice (PiS) returned to power in 2015 the relationship between Poland’s government and the EU institutions has been marked by increasingly intense conflicts.

Should PiS be returned to power the relationship with Brussels looks set to deteriorate further, and Poland may no longer be the cornerstone of European support for Ukraine it has been thus far in the war.

If, on the other hand, the opposition Civic Platform should manage to form a government, it promises that these conflicts will be resolved, the Commission will release the tens of billions in currently suspended EU funding, and Poland seems likely to remain a strong supporter of Ukraine. However, an opposition victory could increase divisions at home: PiS’ success is in part due to its redistributive policies which benefited those left behind economically; a section of society Civic Platform has been seen to ignore.

In a new analysis for SIEPS, Natasza Styczyńska (Jagiellonian University) describes the political landscape ahead of the election – will the isolationist Konfederacja be kingmakers? – and the role played by domestic politics and historical legacies in Poland’s EU policy. She sets out the consequences for the EU of a government and an opposition victory: in each case they will be significant.