If ever there was any doubt that hard work and due diligence pays off, this doubt was dissipated during this European election in Poland. A party of Euro-skeptics, nationalists, ultra-conservatives wishing to relegate the position of women back to the Dark Ages; a party of homophobes, who gives neo-Nazis no more than a pat on the hand for hijacking otherwise peaceful parades during national holidays – this party has taken the European elections by storm despite record-high participation levels. Why? Because they put in the biggest, most inhumane amounts of effort and they believe in what they do.
Thousands of hours spent on campaigning in the field, meeting with constituents in the most remote corners of the country, hundreds of kilometers spent on the road, miles and miles of billboards on buses, private fences and roadsides, and – especially – not giving up the fight even in the centers of large cities, home to thousands of liberal-minded, educated voters, despite their chances for support being flimsy at best. The Law and Justice party (PiS) did not shrink in the face of unlikely odds. This is the power of conviction in all its glory. Not a shred of compromise in sight.
I regularly travel to different parts of the country for business and family reasons. For the past month, everywhere I went, I saw PiS posters, flyers, and or billboards; I heard about PiS candidates touring the area or planning to visit with constituents. This was true for literally every single part of the country I was in, whether north, south or center. In contrast, I saw very little presence of PiS’ rivals. The European Coalition concentrated itself on areas it preemptively judged to be supportive, such as big cities – and it let all other regions be overrun by PiS candidates. One could say that the Liberals let whole communities of voters go without a fight. Without so much even as an attempt.
Robert Biedroń’s party, Wiosna (Spring) and of course PiS – neither had a problem with conviction that drives them. The brand new, alt-liberal-socialist Wiosna did surprisingly well all by itself. However, opinion polls conducted by national opinion gauging institutions such as CBOS and IPSOS show that while the main motivations of voters supporting PiS were because they truly believe in the party, its programme and its leaders, the same was not true of voters supporting the European Coalition. Constituents voting for the European Coalition were mostly motivated by wanting to “stop other parties which are bad” for the country. Not to say that the European Coalition (made up of the moderate Civic Platform (PO), rural-minded Polish Folk Party (PSL), socialist-conservative Left Democratic Alliance (SLD), capitalist-liberal Modern Party (Nowoczesna), and the socialist-liberal Green Party (Zieloni)) failed completely, but are we sure in hindsight that the compromise the Liberals entered into has paid off?
Being a Liberal myself, I must admit – if even to myself – that PiS has won this fight fair and square. The sheer of amount of hours on the road, the sweat and tears put in by members of this party have made them victorious – because voters appreciate being singled out and made to feel special. People cannot help but respect opponents coming into their den to take on a shakedown and remain standing. People respect and admire clearly articulated values and beliefs, even if they are just emotionally charged slogans designed to manipulate.
If liberal values are to prevail in Europe anytime soon, we must watch, learn and stop apologizing for what we truly believe in – if we indeed believe in liberal values. Wiosna’s third place and PiS’s first place testify to hard work and true conviction being the winning cocktail. Also, compromise is out this season.
Poland’s liberal party Nowoczesna