EDITO: The Polish election results are something to celebrate. The winners must now deliver.

30 October 2023 | Statement

The result is in. Together, three opposition political forces have received a majority of elected representatives in both houses of Poland’s parliament.

Together with its Polish member associations, the European Civic Forum is delighted that the dark times for the rule of law and civil liberties, access to fundamental rights and the functioning of democracy in Poland are coming to an end.

Throughout these years, we have supported the massive and admirable mobilisations of whole sections of Polish society to defend their rights: women for access to abortion, LGBTQI+ people whom the government wanted to keep on the margins of society, the defence of the independence of the judiciary from the government, the rejection of an unjust law that would have allowed the government to prevent well-known members of the opposition from standing for election, to name just a few.

The fact that 74% of the electorate turned out to vote, including a much higher increase in the proportion of young people, is undoubtedly a major positive sign. The high turnout of women voters reflects their concerns with women’s rights. It demonstrated the ability of all sections of the population to mobilise in an electoral context to assert the collective weight of their individual preferences. A one-off mobilisation is already magnificent. If it can be sustained, it would be an asset for Polish society.

The European Civic Forum shares a vision of our societies where equality, solidarity and inclusion are supported by a functioning democracy that works for everyone.

Both the election results and opinion polls show that Polish society was motivated to participate in the elections not only as a result of disagreement with violations of the rule of law and the curtailment of citizens’ rights but also out of a desire for social policies that respond to their primary daily needs. This places a huge responsibility on the election winners to respond to such public expectations.

As long as there is no political offer that reflects both of these motivations, the new political configuration will remain fragile, with the risk that this large electoral mobilisation will be a one-day phenomenon. There is no doubt that organised civil society will have a vital job to do if the hopes raised by this electoral mobilisation are to be translated into a society where no one is left behind. In this respect, the winning political parties must keep the commitments they made during the election campaign to implement the programme developed by civil society.

After the moment of intense joy we experienced when the results were announced, we continue to focus on the major issues that need to be addressed with tangible achievements.