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Poland’s Election Results Signal Liberal Shift and Thawing Relations with EU and Ukraine

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Poland’s Election Result Signals Potential Thaw in Relations with EU and Ukraine

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Overview

Poland’s recent election results have the potential to improve relations with the European Union (EU) and neighboring Ukraine. The incumbent Law and Justice (PiS) party secured the highest percentage of the vote, but opposition groups are expected to form a parliamentary majority.

Donald Tusk, leader of the center-right Civic Platform party and prominent figurehead of the anti-PiS opposition, positioned the election as an opportunity to restore democratic norms and liberal values to the country after years of nationalist and socially-conservative policies.

However, Moscow may not welcome the victory of political parties with pro-EU and pro-Ukraine stances, as Russia focuses on building relationships with China and India. The EU’s unity and its support for Ukraine through sanctions and aid packages remain a challenge to Russian interests.

Ukraine Reset

As former European Council president, Tusk is likely to prioritize bringing Poland back into the EU fold, unlocking bloc funds, and potentially making Poland more supportive of EU policies. This victory also prevents the emergence of a populist Euroskeptic alliance in Central Europe. It is expected to reposition Poland as a strong supporter of Ukraine, with Tusk advocating for EU accession for Ukraine.

The recent tensions with Ukraine during the election campaign were influenced by the electoral threat from the far-right Confederation party, which criticized the EU and Polish foreign policy approach to Ukraine. However, the Confederation party underperformed in the election. Poland’s strategic interest in challenging Russian aggression and its role in providing humanitarian aid and support for Ukrainian refugees will likely persist regardless of the election outcome.

Challenges Ahead

Questions remain regarding the formation of a coalition government, the unity of the administration, and its ability to enact its agenda. Disagreements are expected on economic and social issues, including social spending and abortion laws. The passage of legislation may also face obstacles with President Andrzej Duda, an ally of PiS, holding veto power and a Constitutional Tribunal stacked with PiS allies having the ability to strike down laws.

Nevertheless, there is hope that the election results will lead to a thaw in Poland’s relations with the EU and Ukraine, potentially paving the way for a more liberal and cooperative approach.

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