‘Political Suicide’: Poland Unlikely to Have Referendum on Leaving EU

Since the Brexit vote in Britain, the possibility of a similar scenario for Poland has been the subject of intense discussions. Now, Polexit is a very popular word in reports by Polish media.

Tensions between Poland and the European Union deepened after Warsaw attempted to prevent European Council President Donald Tusk from being reappointed for another term. The Warsaw government has long opposed Tusk, the former Polish prime minister and a critic of the ruling Law and Justice Party (PiS) and current Premier Beata Szydło.

Poland proposed another candidate Jacek Saryusz-Wolski, a little-know member of the European Parliament. However, at an EU summit last week, the bloc’s leaders voted 27-1 to give Tusk a new mandate, with only Prime Minister Szydło voting against.

Following the clash between the Polish government and the EU leadership at the summit, a petition has gone popular on social media, calling on President Andrzej Duda to organize a referendum on the country’s withdrawal from the bloc.

In an interview with Sputnik Polska, former Polish lawmaker Tadeusz Iwinski shared thoughts on the possibility of a Polexit.

According to the politician, there is a principal difference between Brexit and the current situation in Poland.

“Fortunately, I can’t see a scenario of Poland leaving the European Union, and there are several reasons. First, there is no official political force in Poland that would be responsible for the move. Britons had Prime Minister David Cameron who made an egoistic decision to organize the vote. As for Poland, despite the rising euroskepticism, even the ruling party denies that it wants Poland out,” Iwinski said.

Some analysts assume that the Polish government is adopting a new strategy towards Brussels, a “negative policy,” as was described by Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski.

Meanwhile, earlier this week, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the leader of the PiS party, rebuffed allegations about Warsaw’s plan to withdraw from the EU. In so doing, Kaczynski commented on French far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen’s remark that she would cooperate with Poland on leaving the European Union.

“Various speculations that we want to pull Poland out of the European Union are false, nothing more than manipulations. Everybody who says that just lies, manipulates, misleads the public opinion,” the politician said at a press briefing.

According to Iwinski, the decision to launch a campaign for Poland’s withdrawal from the EU would be political suicide for the ruling party.

“I don’t think it is possible to organize a referendum. Warsaw’s admission to the EU was probably one the main achievements during the transformation period in Poland. The Law and Justice Party can criticize certain decisions by Brussels or certain decision-making mechanisms, but an official campaign for a Polexit would be political suicide for the party,” he said.

Iwinski also argued that the Polish government and Kaczynski were disappointed by their failed attempt to prevent Tusk from being reappointed, but Warsaw cannot influence bloc decisions aimed at promoting European integration.

“The European Union needs more integration. If Warsaw doesn’t want to integrate it will find itself in the last car of the EU train. Poland can criticize the bloc for becoming increasingly pro-German, but this will lead to nowhere. Poland shows no solidarity and breaks the principles of the united Europe,” he pointed out.

According to Iwinski, Warsaw should be more actively engaged in integration processes in Europe.

He also suggested that currently the popularity of Eurosceptic ideas is slowly declining in Europe, which hints at a brighter future for the EU.

“The European Union will grow stronger after [leader of the Dutch right-wing Party for Freedom Geert] Wilders loses in the Dutch election and Le Pen loses in the French presidential election. Germany will also continue its liberal democratic policy, regardless of the results of the election. The EU will not further expand, but it will remain the best project for Europe,” Iwinski said.

 

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