The main party leaders facing off in Poland’s upcoming parliamentary election called on voters to give their respective parties winning support as they held final campaign rallies Friday. Opinion polls suggested a close race.
The election Sunday will decide whether the ruling conservative, Euro-skeptic Law and Justice party will win a third straight term or whether the liberal, pro-European Civic Coalition and its partners will take power. The Civic Coalition aims to improve Poland’s democratic standards and international standing that have suffered under eight years of a conservative government.
Law and Justice leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski, who is Poland’s de-facto ruler, met voters in southeastern Poland, where his party has a small edge over the opposition. His closing rally was held in the central market of the picturesque town of Sandomierz, the location of popular TV series “The Reverend Mateusz,” about an investigative priest. A majority of Law and Justice voters are practicing Catholics.
“We are the only political formation that guarantees that your voices will be heard,” Kaczynski told the crowd. He used the usual party slogans in his speech to draw chants of “YES” for his party’s policies and “NO” for the opposition.
At the end he told voters that “Poland’s prosperity and good opportunities for all … depend on you, on Poland’s citizens,” while every vote for the opposition is wrong.
Though his hometown is Warsaw, Kaczynski is running from the southern city of Kielce, where he can count on much larger backing than in the capital, where his archrival, Civic Coalition leader Donald Tusk, a former prime minister and former European Council president, is running. Voters in large cities have backed Tusk’s party in recent votes and have shown support for him in two massive marches in Warsaw this year.
His final campaign rally was held indoors in Pruszkow, near Warsaw.
Tusk said that during its eight years in office, Kaczynski’s party has “desecrated” Poland’s values of solidarity, freedom and equality and that, together with his followers, he will “clear their mess” when the opposition wins power.
“Nobody who is dreaming about our free and happy country should vote for Law and Justice,” he said to chants of “We Will Win” and “Donald Tusk.”
He repeatedly said that “victory is within our reach” and drew huge applause when he described post-election Poland without Kaczynski’s party’s rule.
Other parties were also closing their campaigns with events across the country.
Saturday at midnight electoral silence begins, meaning no campaigning and no publishing of opinion polls are allowed, in order to give the voters time to weigh their decision before polling stations open Sunday.
Polls suggest Law and Justice will win the most votes but will lose its current narrow parliament majority and with it the possibility to rule singlehandedly.
With some 8% of eligible voters still undecided, statements from the leaders at the rallies on Friday could decide the nation’s immediate future.