Poll suggesting Polish opposition’s unity is only way to beat PiS was manipulated, critics say

Poll suggesting Polish opposition’s unity is only way to beat PiS was manipulated, critics say
Ladislaw Kaczynski's PiS remains the leading party but would not be able to form a government on its own, polls suggest. / bne IntelliNews
By Wojciech Kosc in Warsaw March 23, 2023

A major poll that found Poland’s opposition parties must run as a single group to win a parliamentary majority in the election later this year was manipulated, critics have alleged.

The publication of the poll’s results on March 20 caused much controversy by suggesting the opposition’s only chance to beat a potential coalition of the incumbent Law and Justice (PiS) and the far-right Konfederacja party was to overcome differences and field a single list of candidates countrywide.

But a host of critical articles and expert comments on social media now suggest that the poll’s results were deliberately skewed to favour the single list option. 

The key move, critics have said, was to calculate the number of seats in the new parliament on the basis of voting intention figures only of those poll respondents who said they were nearly certain to vote in the election. The “I’d rather vote” pool was ignored – which is against polling standards.

The poll’s results were published on the front page of Gazeta Wyborcza, a leading Polish newspaper, which is staunchly opposed to the PiS government and has favoured the biggest opposition party, the centrist Civic Platform. 

The poll, carried out by Kantar Public for a Polish think-tank, which crowdfunded the effort, said the opposition running a joint list of candidates could win 245 seats in the 460-seat parliament, a fairly safe 14 seats above the majority threshold.

Other configurations – in which the opposition runs in either two blocks or each of the four parties separately – would give the majority to the PiS, although only in a coalition with the far-right, the poll also said.

After the furore that the poll’s publication caused, Kantar published the raw data it gathered, which polling experts worked on, concluding the data were manipulated to fit the narrative of a united opposition.

Polish opposition parties do face a dilemma of the best strategy to defeat PiS, which they accuse of ruining the rule of law in Poland and mismanaging the country’s economy, as inflation is nearing 20% and economic growth is expected at 1% at best in 2023. 

Recent polls typically do not give PiS enough support to win a majority in the next parliament unless in a likely coalition with the far right.

The PiS government survived virtually unscathed the winter energy crisis and appears to have caught some new wind in its sails amidst data suggesting inflation is about to fall, while an economic rebound is possible earlier than expected.