This month, Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk faced protests in the capital followed by the defection of a member of his governing party in parliament. In an email interview, Aleks Szczerbiak, professor of politics and contemporary European studies at the University of Sussex, explained the sources of Polish discontent and the implications for the stability of Tusk’s government.
WPR: What is driving the dissatisfaction with Tusk's government?
Aleks Szczerbiak: The slump in support for Tusk's government is due to a number of factors. Continued economic sluggishness has accompanied a growing perception that the government is drifting and has failed to deliver on many of its promises. Divisions and tensions within the ruling centrist Civic Platform party, and a feeling that it is absorbed with its own internal difficulties rather than trying to run the country and improve the economic situation, have both contributed to, and been exacerbated by, an ongoing sense of crisis that has enveloped the government in recent months. At the same time, the right-wing Law and Justice party, the main opposition grouping led by Jaroslaw Kaczynski, has scored points by focusing its core message on “bread and butter” social and economic issues and simply but effectively criticizing the government's apparent failures, while managing to avoid making any major gaffes.