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The lessons of the Polish elections for Hungary

October 29th, 2015

Analysts right across the political spectrum study the Polish Parliamentary elections in search of lessons for Hungarian politics and ponder the prospects of Central European regional cooperation.

After the victory of the PiS, Poland will become increasingly interested in a strong Visegrad cooperation, rather than strengthening its ties with the EU and Germany, Zoltán Kottász comments in Magyar Idők. As an explanation for the PiS victory, Kottász mentions the defeated PO government’s lack of ability to show more empathy to people’s everyday fears and concerns. Despite the fact that the Polish economy is growing fast, everyday Poles did not experience any improvement in their daily lives, Kottász believes. He adds that the pro-EU PO was also unable to address the public’s concern over the loss of sovereignty.

After the victory of PiS, the Polish, Hungarian and Slovak ‘axis’ can slow down the further integration of the EU, Tamás Rónay writes in Népszava. The left-wing columnist suspects that the victory of the Polish populist right-wing party will further deepen the crisis of the EU. He adds, however, that despite the the fact that both PiS and Fidesz follow a Christian conservative nationalist ideology, the smooth cooperation of Hungary’s and Poland’s right-wing governments cannot be taken for granted. The PiS has been staunchly anti-Russian while PM Orbán has called for reconciliation with Moscow, Rónay notes. He adds that Kaczynski may not be as combatant with the EU, bearing in mind that his government’s popularity depends to a large extent on maintaining swift economic growth, which may be put at risk if Polish-German relations were to be put under strain.

Pondering the reasons behind PO’s defeat, Gábor Stier in Magyar Nemzet contends that the conservative liberal  PO lost the election because of corruption scandals and arrogant style.  The anti-EU messages of the national conservative PiS have also contributed to the victory of Kaczynski’s party, the conservative columnist adds. In an aside, Stier notes that the disappearance of left-wing parties from Parliament indicates that Poland has got over the post-Communist period. As for the prospects of a stronger East Central European alliance, Stier is somewhat sceptical if the nationalist and anti-EU rhetoric would make make Fidesz and PiS strong geopolitical allies. While PM Orbán’s party has been pro-Russian and anti-US, Kaczyinsky’s PiS is a harsh critique of Russia and a strong supporter of the US, Stier remarks.

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