Civic Platform (PO)

Civic Platform (PO). Civic Platform is Poland’s current ruling party, and the first Polish ruling party to enjoy two successive terms in power.

PO is a liberal-conservative party that emerged from Solidarity Electoral Action, a vast coalition of centre-right parties which ruled Poland in the late 1990s.

Broadly, PO represented the more pro-market elements in the government. PO served as the opposition to a government led by the Democratic Left Alliance and then one led by Law and Justice.

Compared to its fellow right-of-centre party, Law and Justice, PO tends to be more liberal, both economically and socially, and less nationalistic.

It is a mistake to think that PO is a right-wing liberal party however. The party is only liberal in comparison to Law and Justice. The party is opposed to abortion and same-sex marriage and wants to criminalise gambling and in 2009 introduced mandatory chemical castration for convicted paedophiles.

In office, the party has not been as radical on pro-market reforms as its extremely radical rhetoric in opposition suggested and has attempted to be a consensual and moderate governing force. Critics accuse it of lacking the gumption for the kind of radical reforms Poland needs to be competitive, and putting its own electoral needs before Polish prosperity.

The party’s MPs cover a fairly sizeable range of views, ranging from those who are quite close to Law and Justice through to an emerging centrist wing which has views not incomparable to Blairism. So far these factions mostly seem rather happy working together, though one minister, Jaroslaw Gowin, has formed a splinter party, Poland Together from the party’s most conservative wing, and the eccentric maverick MP Janusz Palikot has formed ‘Your Movement’.

PO’s base is in the more urban and developed West and North of Poland which was ruled by Germany prior to 1918.

PO’s leader and the premier of Poland is Donald Tusk. As the leader of Eastern Europe’s largest EU member state, Tusk has been vaunted as a potential President of the European Commission and was for many years the betting man’s favourite to replace Jose Barroso this year. A pro-European Tusk has made many speeches in defence of the European project. However Tusk seems to have preferred to stay as Prime Minister than to put himself forward as a candidate for the job this year. If Tusk were to become President of the Commission he would be the first Eastern Europe to hold the position.

PO MEP, Jerzy Busek also served as Eastern Europe’s first President of the European Parliament prior to current President, Martin Schulz. The PO will probably get at least one major position in the configuration of the next set of European leaders due to Poland’s size and as a demonstration that Eastern Europe has a prominent place in the EU.

PO is a broadly pro-European party, and favours joining the Euro, though it is repeatedly vague about when it would like to join.

PO is a member of the European People’s Party. It votes alongside the EPP 96.5% of the time, slightly more than fellow EPP member the People’s Party, and around average for the group.