Will Poland’s New Government Do the EU’s Bidding?

Judging from the preliminary results of the national elections in Poland on Oct. 15, the current PiS government is set to be replaced by a coalition of the three opposition parties, which altogether received 53.1% of the votes. The new Prime Minister would be Donald Tusk, who served as Polish Prime Minister in 2007-2014 and President of the European Council in 2014-2019. Such a coalition would have 248 of 460 seats in the new national parliament, against 200 seats for the Law and Justice party PiS. On Oct. 1, Tusk’s PO party had organized a mass rally of one million Poles in Warsaw — the biggest turnout since the big protest rallies of the Solidarnosc movement in the 1980s (cf. SAS 40/23).

Although most of the votes for the PiS came from Catholic voters in countryside districts, a number of farmers supported Tusk’s PO party out of disgust with the government’s acceptance of the agricultural policy dictated by Brussels. After the government first decided to let Ukrainian grain into the country, to the detriment of the higher-priced grain produced in Poland, massive farmer protests were organized, leading to the decision to ban the imports in order to protect Polish producers. Many other voters are opposed to the crackdown by the government on the judicial sector and the media, and to its anti-abortion course. Donald Tusk, a liberal, is considered a more pro-European politician, generally—which given the policies pursued by the European Commission, is not likely to improve the overall economic situation of Poland.

Energy will be a crucial litmus test for any coalition led by Tusk. The big question is whether he will continue the pro-nuclear course of the outgoing government, which had just selected the Westinghouse AP1000 reactor technology for a plant at Lubiatowo-Kopalino in Pomerania. The country’s Ministry of Climate and Environment issued a decision-in-principle for Polskie Elektrownie Jądrowe (PEJ) – 100% state-owned — – to construct the plant, to be completed in 2033. Moreover, being 70% dependent on coal for its energy supply, Poland will maintain coal mining and coal plants until a full substitute is available with nuclear power – the European Commission be damned.

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