Poland’s ruling party, two months ago seen cruising to victory in Oct. 9 elections, may narrowly win the vote in the European Union’s largest eastern member as the opposition makes a late surge, opinion polls showed.
Prime Minister Donald Tusk’s Civic Platform had 31 percent backing in a TNS OBOP survey of 1,000 voters published yesterday by Gazeta Wyborcza, compared with 21 percent for the largest opposition party Law & Justice. An Oct. 1 poll of 1,500 Poles by Homo Homini put support for Civic Platform at 30.1 percent with Law & Justice at 29.1 percent.
Tusk, who has remained one of Poland’s most popular politicians throughout his four-year term, is seeking re-election by stressing his government was the only one in the EU to avoid a recession during the global financial crisis. His main rival is Law & Justice leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski, whose policies include delaying a plan to sell government assets.
While pollsters point to different methodologies and Poles’ reluctance to disclose their real political preferences in surveys, they agree that Civic Platform will win, “though it will neither be a victory by the skin of its teeth, nor by a crushing victory,” said Andrzej Olszewski, head of TNS OBOP. The TNS poll didn’t give a margin of error. “The election fight will last until the very last moment, but the Platform’s victory will give it a mandate to form a ruling coalition.”
The EU’s seventh-biggest economy grew 4.4 percent a year in 2007 to 2010, compared with 0.1 percent in the EU. Average wages have increased about 18 percent since Tusk, 54, took power four years ago, with companies such as Credit Suisse Group AG and Dell Inc. opening offices. Ferrari opened its first showroom in Warsaw last year.
Growth may sputter in the second half as Europe’s sovereign-debt crisis damps demand in Poland’s main export markets. While the government has kept its GDP forecast for the next year at 4 percent, Citibank economist Piotr Kalisz revised his bank’s outlook down to 1.9 percent last week.
Kaczynski, who has called Tusk “morally responsible” for a plane crash last year that killed his twin brother, President Lech Kaczynski, has been capitalizing on voter concerns over the country’s slowing economy, fiscal deficit and debt load. His party trailed Civic Platform by an average of 8.3 percentage points in six polls in October compared with an 13.2 percentage-point average in five polls taken between Aug. 19-31.
“Emotions are in play perpetually and until the very last moment, which helps explain the discrepancy between the various surveys we’re seeing now,” said Marcin Duma, head of the Homo Homini research institute. His company’s poll had a margin of error of 3 percent.
The TNS OBOP poll showed 26 percent of respondents were undecided, the same as in a September poll by the Center for Public Research.
According to all polls, three other parties will top the 5 percent threshold, including the Democratic Left Alliance, the Polish Peasants’ Party, currently a junior partner in the ruling coalition, and the newly founded Palikot Movement.
“None of the polls show that Law & Justice is about to win, just that the gap between them is smaller,” said Radoslaw Markowski, a professor of political science at the Polish Academy of Sciences. “But this nation is crazy and could do anything on election day.”