Civic Platform ready to take over Modern

The biggest opposition party, the Civic Platform (PO) is to merge with a smaller liberal party ‘Modern’.

PO and Modern are to hold a joint meeting of their two executives at which it is likely that a decision will be taken for Modern MPs to join the PO’s parliamentary caucus that is already called Civic Platform-Civic Coalition (PO-KO).

The PO has been working towards this for a long time but has met resistance from its junior partner. The two parties allied in the local government elections and then a number of Modern deputies left to join the PO-KO parliamentary caucus. But just over half of the Modern MPs stayed in their present “Modern” parliamentary caucus.

The party’s decision to seek an electoral alliance with the PO was taken last year as its poll ratings slumped. The party was involved in the “European Coalition” (KE) but was rather marginalised within it. Not a single of the Modern candidates on KE slates made it to the European Parliament in the European elections.

The head of Modern, Katarzyna Lubnauer, said the party wants to build on the success of local elections in October 2018.

“We want to recreate [such a coalition as in] the local government elections: a Civic Coalition. It was a successful coalition. We introduced many councillors. Our candidates won in urban areas,” Ms Lubnauer told Polish Radio on Tuesday.

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Modern: a one election wonder?

Modern was set up in 2015 by Ryszard Petru a close ally of the former Finance minister and former head of the Central Bank Leszek Balcerowicz. It was formed as a result of dismay felt by economic liberals at tax rises and pension fund policies of the former Civic Platform government.

The party gained almost eight percent – around 30 seats – in the 2015 Parliamentary elections. As the PO licked its wounds from losing power at that election, Modern overtook it in the polls and looked set to become a key opposition force.

The party was rocked by a scandal involving its leader Ryszard Petru. In the middle of opposition protests when it occupied the chamber of the Lower House over Christmas 2015,Mr Petru was spotted on a plane heading off to a sunny holiday destination with his party colleague Joanna Szmidt. They were both married, but not to each other.

A sharp fall in support in the polls led to Mr Petru’s demise. He was deposed as leader of the party late in 2017 by Katarzyna Lubnauer. He left his former party in the spring of 2018 and formed a new party Now!. The new venture has failed to attract support.

It looks likely that Modern will join a string of “one-election wonders”, parties that managed to get elected to Parliament once, but soon fizzled out and ended up splitting and out of Parliament.

The party is also said to be in serious financial woes. Its debt is due to the 2015 election campaign, and is estimated at around PLN 1.5 million (EUR 350,000). Due to a campaign finance violation, Modern committed, involving financial relations between the party itself and its electoral campaign committee, it won’t receive PLN 18.6 million (EUR 4.35 mln) of state subsidies it would otherwise be entitled to.

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