WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Poland’s president has set Oct. 13 as the day for parliamentary elections, a vote which the current right-wing ruling party Law and Justice is well-positioned to win.
The election is widely considered one of the most important in the 30 years since the fall of communism as the country finds itself deeply divided over Law and Justice’s socially conservative and nationalistic policies.
Critics accuse the party of destroying the democratic gains of three decades ago with policies that have eroded the independence of the judiciary, and by promoting intolerance toward LGBT people and other minorities.
However, the party remains hugely popular, in large part thanks to cash handouts for families with children and other spending policies that have helped many people in a country where average wages remain far below Western European levels. Many Poles also support the government’s anti-LGBT messages and other conservative policies that mark a rejection of liberal values seen as an imposition from the West.
Law and Justice won a decisive victory in May elections to the European Parliament. Recent opinion polls also project that Law and Justice could win from around 45 up to 50 percent of the votes in the upcoming national elections. That would be an even stronger showing than in 2015, when it won about 38 percent of the vote, which translated into a slim majority in parliament because smaller parties did not reach a threshold for winning seats.
A centrist opposition coalition led by the Civic Platform party is polling at just under 30 percent, while a left-wing coalition is now polling as the third strongest political force at around 10 percent.
The elections will determine the make-up of the 460-seat lower house of parliament and the 100-seat Senate.
President Andrzej Duda’s office announced late Tuesday that the state electoral commission had accepted his request for elections on Oct. 13.