Anti-Migrant Stance Helps Boost Polish Ruling Party’s Popularity

The Polish government’s tough anti-migrant stance is helping rebuild the popularity of the embattled ruling party, opinion surveys show.

The uptick in support comes two weeks after the nationalist government imposed an unprecedented state of emergency along Poland’s border with Belarus after thousands of immigrants, many from Afghanistan and Iraq, tried to cross the European Union’s eastern frontier. Opposition parties that criticized the decision saw their support decline.

Backing for the ruling Law & Justice Party rose 2.2 percentage points to 36.4%, while the main opposition Civic Platform party slipped 5.3 points to 22.3%, according to a poll by United Surveys published on Tuesday. 

Undocumented arrivals from Belarus have grown since Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko said in May he would retaliate against EU sanctions. Poland has left dozens of migrants stranded near its border, erecting a barbed-wire fence on the Polish side of the frontier and sending thousands of troops to patrol the area.

“This crisis triggered by Lukashenko has clearly helped Law & Justice,” said Antoni Dudek, a political scientist from the University of Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski in Warsaw. He said the the government was “desperately” pursuing a narrative that Poland faces an “invasion threat” and that only its tough stance can keep it safe.

Other surveys confirm the rising trend for Law & Justice, which is taking place despite a flareup in the long-running conflict with the EU over judicial reforms and LGBTQ rights. They also signal that a boost in popularity for the Civic Platform after Donald Tusk, a former European Council President and ex-Polish premier, returned to lead the party, is waning.

Poland isn’t scheduled to hold general elections until late 2023 but Law & Justice, whose ruling coalition has lost its majority in parliament, may seek to trigger an early ballot in the spring.

The polls have so far showed that increasing animosity between Law & Justice and Brussels, as well as rising anti-EU rhetoric from the party’s leadership, haven’t hurt its popularity. A dispute between Poland and the European Commission over the rule of law has prompted the bloc to withhold its approval for billions of euros in pandemic recovery funds.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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