Another European election, another surprise: Andrzej Duda stunned observers by sweeping Bronislaw Komorowski in Poland’s presidential elections. Duda, a member of the right-wing Law and Justice party, is projected to have won 52%-48%, pushing out the centrist Komorowski, whose party has been at Poland’s helm for eight years. The presidency is largely ceremonial in Poland, but most observers think that this vote points to a big reshuffle in parliamentary elections later this year. The New York Times explains what it all means:
Both parties support Poland’s membership in NATO and the European Union and take a hard line against the policies of the Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin. But Mr. Duda’s party, Law and Justice, is much more socially conservative and nationalistic and tends to be more skeptical about surrendering authority over Polish affairs to European partners.
Civic Platform has forged very close ties with Germany, and sought a larger role and more prominent voice in European Union affairs.
Law and Justice, if it claims the more powerful prime minister’s seat in November elections, is expected to emphasize regional alliances and adopt a more distant relationship with the European Union.
“If they win power, Law and Justice will build alliances with Lithuania and Ukraine, and neglect Germany and France,” said Radoslaw Markowski, head of the comparative politics department at the Institute of Political Studies at the Polish Academy of Sciences. “They have a deeply rooted Euro-skepticism.”
On the other side of Europe, in Spain, a similar kind of political tremor was felt in this weekend’s regional and local elections, with upstart parties like Podemos eating into the support of both of the mainstream parties—the Peoples Party (PP) and the Socialists. The mainstream parties fell short of overall majorities in most areas, with the PP threatened with the loss of the governing council of Madrid, which it has held for 20 years.
These are all in all bad results for Brussels in both places, because even though Podemos is a left-wing organization allied with Greece’s Syriza, it too has been a critic of the way things are done in the EU. Taken alongside the results of the British election, and we have what’s starting to look like a trend.
Shrewd observers of the European situation have said for some time that what the ECB has done is to turn an acute financial crisis into a long term political crisis. That view appears to be vindicated by recent election returns.