Alright, so now that around half the votes are counted, it seems safe to say PiS is in a virtually impossible situation. Here are some scenarios and my personal analysis/experience.
A breakdown of the parties:
PiS: ruling party since 2015, Scandinavian-style economics (state-controlled infrastructure, energy, etc., strong social safety net), right-wing (not hard right or center right) social policies, pragmatic-hawks on Russia, not Eurosceptic but at serious odds with the EU. Projected to win 36-39%
PO/KO: the previous government. Led by Donald Tusk. Very hard to describe them today, as they ran a Democrat-style campaign of absolutely no policies, just anti-PiS. Previous time they were in government involved large-scale privatization, major corruption scandals, etc. Tusk was rewarded by being an EU golden boy and becoming one of the top EU officials for years. He returned to PL politics for the election. One can expect them to be entirely subservient to the EU. Projected to win 30-32%
Konfederacja: a weird mix of hard Catholic right-wing and libertarians. They were projected to get 8-14% but only got 6. Not friends with PiS despite both being right-wing.
TD: newish party that represents something like a youth center party. They are probably the closest to PiS in policies overall — supports the safety net, is not super into liberalizing society but more than under PiS. They were projected around 10-12%.
Lewica: left party. Basically one to one modeled after the US DSA. Almost comically out of touch. Entire platform is nonsensical housing, gays, abortion. They always get between 6-10% due to one-time youth votes. No consistent base.
PiS has many policies that remain very popular. Their firm stance on migration, social welfare policies, and economic growth are popular. The opposition has largely ignored addressing any of this. Discontent over various scandals, the abortion nonsense, and an overall tendency to just hate the government over time grew.
PiS has no friends. They have nobody they can realistically coalition with.
KO/PO, Lewica and TD said they would form a coalition months ago. Now that they have the votes, we will see if that works. These groups do NOT align with each other in any way besides “fvck PiS”. Voters will give them some sympathy to get rid of PiS, but difficult to imagine that holding. The president remains PiS for another year or two as well. Konfederacja is out of the picture it seems. They cannot swing any coalition.
PiS said they would be partnering with a part of TD today, but TD rejected it. The prime minister said he plans to form a PiS government still but there is no way to really do that on the surface. However, PiS are, without a doubt, the most intelligent and savvy political operators in Poland. Do not rule out something out of nowhere that keeps them in power.
Assuming the opposition coalition wins, here are things we COULD expect (again, hard to say with any certainty as PO/KO avoided any policy but this would fall in line with past behavior):
- Accepting EU migrant deals (new deal was made that makes it pay to not take any, however there is debate if the Ukrainians count and, if so, means Poland met the quota). Consequences: besides what happened in the West, it is likely most migrants would still try to go West. No benefits here. Still, this terrifies people. It would be extremely unpopular. But likely due to Tusk accepting any EU diktat.
- Some privatization and attempts to roll back the social safety net. Very unpopular.
- Civil partnerships probably recognized, gay marriage is 50/50 — TD says no, Lewica says yes + trans, KO/PO in the middle. Very unpopular.
- Gutting the military. Polish support for Ukraine would likely remain as is, or perhaps slightly increase while the military is gutted. PiS and KON were the only parties even slightly apprehensive with Ukraine publicly.
- Neoliberalization of our economy.
- Abortion reversal. Popular.
As you can see, the opposition has little way to do anything without being unpopular.
Conclusion. For now:
In the long term, this could be good for PiS — a reminder of how bad Tusk is and how many of PiS’s policies are very popular could benefit them. Additionally, it may be a wake-up call from PiS on how to navigate youth politics. It is unlikely the opposition coalition could hold for an entire term.
My experience — after the exit polls, multiple friends (girls) of my girlfriend who voted opposition said they were scared. They hate PiS but assumed they would win and now that it is changing they were scared of the migrants who could start coming, scared of their safety. I have no way to say this is widespread, but it is very interesting.
— reporting from Poland for Total War News.