Elections in Poland: an anti-immigration referendum as a strategy to mobilize the vote

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The Polish nationalist government has coincided the parliamentary elections with a referendum to mobilize its electorate. A consultation that has questions about immigrants and the economy. It is the first time since 1989 that the legislative elections have overlapped in this country with a referendum, although this electoral strategy has already been applied before in the region. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban called elections and a plebiscite on migration in 2016, in the midst of the migration crisis in Europe. But he lost it.

Referendums are valid and binding if at least 50% of eligible voters participate. In this case, although there is quorum, the result will be irrelevant given that the questions remain in the statement: Do you support the sale of state assets to foreign entities, which implies the loss of control of the Poles over strategic sectors of the economy? Do you support raising the retirement age, including resetting the retirement age for men and women, which has been raised to 67? Do you support the removal of the barrier on the border between the Republic of Poland and the Republic of Belarus? Do you support the admission of thousands of illegal immigrants from the Middle East and Africa, in accordance with the forced relocation mechanism imposed by the European bureaucracy?

Given that the populist Law and Justice party (PiS) has presented the leader of the opposition Civic Coalition, Donald Tusk, as a politician sold out to the interests of Brussels and Germany, willing to sell national companies, to extend the working age, to tolerate immigration and demolish the retaining wall on the border with Belarus, the answer to each of those questions should be No. Or what is the same: “Vote PiS”.

The referendum was announced in mid-August. The original idea was a single question about the rejection of the migration pact with the EU. However, polls by the party and its strategists revealed that although the majority of Poles supported the government’s stance on this issue, it was not important enough to reach voters in the way PiS had hoped. A referendum with a single question on migration, moreover, could boost support for the far-right Confederation party (Konfederacja), with an even more radical approach to immigration and arguments such as excluding all these people from State social benefits. Hence the inclusion of the other questions and one of them, the one referring to migration from Asia and the Middle East with “bad fario.” In September, the Polish Government’s anti-immigration rhetoric exploded when it was discovered that its embassies and consulates in Africa and Asia had sold up to half a million work visas to enter Poland and therefore the Schengen area through bribes.

The opposition has described the referendum as a “farce” and called for a boycott. International organizations are concerned that a record is kept of those who when going to vote refuse to take the referendum ballot and the fact that it was made to coincide with the general ones. raises legal questions. Holding two consultations simultaneously allows PiS to avoid campaign financing regulations, since it can use the expenses of the referendums as a Government to promote the party’s electoral issues. This, critics argue, will negatively affect the transparency and integrity of the electoral process.

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