Polish countryside decides Poland's future in the EU

Poland is on the eve of crucial parliamentary elections on October 15. These are already being called the most important elections since the Polish revolution of 1989.

The focus is mainly on the nationalist-conservative Law and Justice Party (PiS) and its controversial anti-European course. It is already clear that the ballot box battle will be decided in the Polish countryside: forty percent of the population lives there.

The elections are already being labeled as a battle for Poland's soul, centered around the question of whether the PiS government can maintain its position after 9 years in power, whether or not with the support of right-wing coalition partners. The latest polls show a neck-and-neck race between PiS and the Liberal coalition led by former EU chairman Donald Tusk, which is only a few percentage points behind the ruling party.

The ruling party is further challenged by an emerging agrarian-oriented conservative faction and by Agrounia's new radical peasant party. The agrarian conservatives have attracted attention with their pledge to preserve and protect the traditional values and customs of rural Poland, and now stand at around ten percent; Agrounia at 1 percent.

The PiS government has lost significant rural support in recent years. Critics argue that this is not so much due to dissatisfaction with EU-driven agricultural policy (although this has also been widely criticized), but mainly due to the fact that the party has lost its ties to the Roman Catholic Church and traditional values and customs in the countryside. not retained enough. 

In addition, the government has had multiple conflicts with the European Union for several years over issues such as the rule of law, independence of judges, gay rights and liberal freedoms. As a result, the EU has suspended disbursement of several grants, causing the PiS politicians to lose support among "urban" moderates and modern voters as well.

A decisive turning point in these elections could be Ukrainian grain exports. The European Commission is considering lifting the current restrictions (no exports to five neighboring countries) after September 15, to the anger of the Polish government. That is in the middle of the election campaign. Warsaw threatens to reintroduce border blockades if necessary, with which the PiS is still trying to get all farmers on their side. 

Another factor that plays a role is that the Polish countryside has considerably reduced the 'backlog' in 'modern urban areas' over the past ten to fifteen years, partly with the aid of European (development) subsidies and the renewal of the agricultural policy supported by the EU. Not iedereen is dissatisfied with the EU.

While the PiS government remains determined to maintain its anti-European course, the Liberal coalition led by Donald Tusk has positioned itself as an alternative with a pro-European agenda. The election results may thus have significant implications for Poland's relationship with the European Union and the wider geopolitical context.