Sunday 14 June 2009

European Union: Rising Poland

In the European Voice, Peter S. Rashish mentions the emergence of Poland to complement the European heavyweights Germany and France, and he looks at the implications for the transatlantic relationship: A new balance of power emerges (12 June 2009).

European election results

The internal power balance in the European Union and the relationship with the USA are determined primarily on state level, but the European Parliament elections strengthen the position of Poland.

The Civic Platform (PO) of Prime Minister Donald Tusk was victorious, with 25 seats in the European Parliament and 44.3% of the vote. Together with 3 MEPs from the Polish People’s Party (PSL), the Polish representatives make up the fourth largest contingent in the Group of the European People’s Party (EPP), the biggest political group in the European Parliament, with 264 out of 736 seats.

Thus, they are anchored in the European political mainstream, which means that they are better able to influence policies both at government level (Council) and in the European Parliament.

Poland’s ex-Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek is one of the prime candidates to become President of the European Parliament, as reported by Dominika Pszczółkowska in the Gazeta Wyborcza: Poland's Buzek Closer to European Parliament Presidency (9 June 2009).



During the previous government, the Kaczynski twins became famous for their confrontational and obstructionist EU policies. The Kaczynskis watered down the Lisbon Treaty and opted out of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. Despite approval of the Treaty of Lisbon by the Polish Parliaent, President Lech Kaczynski has refused to sign the ratification document.

The Kaczynskis were increasingly seen as an embarrassment for Poland, and they were swept from government power by the Civic Platform, but still hold on to the Presidency of Poland.

In the European elections the Law and Justice Party (PiS) of Jaroslaw Kaczynski (and his twin, the President of Poland Lech Kaczynski) took a beating, but got 15 MEPs elected on 27.4% of the vote.

The PiS exits the disparate EP political group UEN (Union for Europe of the Nations), outside the political mainstream, in favour of the new political group (European Conservatives?), which will be formed around the UK Conservative Party, the Czech ODS (Civic Democrats) of former Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek; ex-party of President Vaclav Klaus, with additions from other EU member states yet to be announced.

This means that the ultra-conservative Polish main opposition party will remain entrenched outside the European political mainstream, with presidential elections coming up in 2010.


European Parliament: Results of the 2009 European elections: Distribution by member state: parties and political groups (provisional 11 June 2009 11:26 CEST).

Wikipedia: List of political parties in Poland


Germany has its parliamentary elections (Bundestag) scheduled for September, but already the composition of the European Parliament and the national governments are in sync in France, Italy and Poland through the preponderance of the European People’s Party (EPP) and its national parties.

Poland is well positioned to profit from its strategic positioning.

The treaties force the political groups to reach majorities of the component members of the European Parliament (369) in order to amend legislative proposals. The EPP is likely to continue to work closely with the second largest EP group, the socialists and democrats (ASDE, ex PES), with the two other mainstream groups, the liberals and democrats (ALDE) and the Greens in supporting roles.

Ralf Grahn

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