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Difficult governance decisions in Poland and Slovakia

In the past couple of months, two neighboring countries in the CEE, Slovakia and Poland faced important elections that produced starkly different results. While Slovakia has successfully formed a coalition government a little less than a week ago, with Robert Fico as its head, Poland is facing a long and unpredictable political month. Our Chief Analysts, Dániel Cséfalvay reflects on Slovakia's process, while our Intelligence Specialist shares her insight on what to expect from Poland.

Dániel Cséfalvay on Pellegrini the Kingmaker:

The government-forming process presented Slovakia with a relatively new situation where the decisive role was given to Peter Pellegrini’s Hlas, which came third in the parliamentary elections. For both the election winner Smer and the runner-up Progressive Slovakia (PS), Hlas was the crucial piece of the puzzle in forming a government. Initial predictions suggested that given Pellegrini’s position, he would negotiate a strong mandate for Hlas in the government, maybe even the position of the Prime Minister. After a brief period of negotiations, Hlas announced that it would only continue the negotiations with Smer and the Slovak National Party, ruling out the possibility of a government with PS. While at that moment it might have sounded surprising given the fact that PS was willing to offer the position of the PM to Pellegrini, context is crucial. A survey done by the research agency Focus showed that voters of Hlas overwhelmingly preferred the coalition with Smer rather than PS, although Hlas was created as an alternative to Smer. It was Fico’s fourth time forming a government which likely contributed to the fact that he was able to convince Pellegrini to choose Smer. What remains clear is that given the striking parallels, Pellegrini did not watch the Danish political show Borgen as an inspiration for his government-forming negotiations.

Emma Letham on Poland's unpredictable future:

With the results indicating a clear 248-seat majority for the opposition, the next step is now down to President Andrzej Duda. Following the vote, he has 30 days to convene the Sejm - preliminarily announced for November 13th - and nominate a new Prime Minister. The President has repeatedly indicated he would first approach the winning party, Law and Justice, and likely nominate incumbent PM Mateusz Morawiecki for the job. However, the nominee then has 14 days to secure a vote of confidence, which is something that Morawiecki is extremely unlikely to achieve. Alternatively, the opposition (Civic Coalition, the Left, and the Third Way) have already begun negotiations to form a government headed by Donald Tusk and plan to announce their nominee for the Speaker of the Sejm during the following week. The difference between these two approaches will most likely not be the final outcome but merely the timeline. If Duda does first nominate a PiS candidate, the new Tusk government will not be confirmed until mid-December. Reports indicate that so far, the opposition’s negotiations are going smoothly, despite no clear conclusions aside from the Speaker's position having been reached. However, a Tusk government will be forced to deal with the significant heterogeneity of the individual parties and potential legislative issues in the future.


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