Analysis: Ruling party leader sets trap for opposition

Jarosław Kaczyński says he wants to end the atmosphere of a political cold civil war between his party and the opposition. But the offer to reduce the temperature of political debate is a potential trap for the opposition parties.

In an interview with the Polish Press Agency (PAP) published on Tuesday the leader of the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) Jarosław Kaczyński said that before the election his party will present a proposal for reconciliation with the opposition in order to calm the political debate in Poland.

Mr Kaczyński is sending a signal to the electorate that the ruling party now feels strong enough to make an offer of cooperation with the opposition. Irt is not clear at this stage what that offer might entail. It is a matter for speculation whether it will be limited to giving the opposition extra rights in Parliament or whether it could entail proposals on a joint approach to judicial and other systemic reforms. But when it is actually formulated it is likely to be a huge problem for the opposition.

The opposition has spent the last four years arguing that democracy and freedom are under threat and that the ruling party is no ordinary democratic force. NOt only has it organised street demonstrations against the government, but it has also lobbied for international pressure to be exerted on Poland over judicial reform. They have been using a sense of danger and emergency to mobilize voters against the ruling party.

If the opposition now changes the narrative and accepts any kind of truce it will effectively discredit its own narrative and may demobilise its own supporters ahead of the vital Parliamentary elections in the autumn. However, if on the other hand it rejects the offer out of court that may be a turn-off for undecided voters tired of the adversary nature of recent Polish politics.

The ruling party is clearly taking advantage of its ability to set the agenda. Because of the opposition’s problems on fielding a joint slate PiS have been left in poll position at the starting blocks for the Parliamentary election race. That means that it can run ahead and set traps for those who chase it.