Thursday, October 18, 2007

Idiot’s guide to Polish elections III – the ex-pat vote

Lots of Poles have fled their homeland since Poland joined the EU in 2004. Will their vote make a difference on election day, October 21?


Who knows how many Poles are in the United Kingdom at the moment. Maybe a million have been there at some time or other during the last three years.

Polish politicians have woken up to a limited extent to the fact that this could be a new, valuable constituency – maybe there are some votes to be won.

And Polish politicians have shown some interest in the new Polish community in UK.

There was a debate broadcast on the recently launched Polskie Radio Londyn,net internet radio, aimed at ex-pat Poles in the UK.

All the major political parties were represented in the debate, though only the ex-communist Left and Democrats deemed the event worthy of enough by sending the high-profile Ryszard Kalysz to put their case (the fat bloke in the photo, second from the right).

By the October 16 deadline, 68,000 Poles had registered to vote in UK and Ireland. That’s maybe 7 percent or something of the potential vote.
Not really surprising. Ex-pats don't usually vote in elections back home. But who will those that do bother vote for?

An opinion poll by the Rzeczpospolita newspaper found:

Poles in the UK are most likely to vote for the Civic Platform party. 51% of Poles in the UK intend to vote for them. The Civic Platform's leader, Donald Tusk visited Britain recently for a series of meetings with immigrant groups. His popularity among immigrants might have increased as a result of his declarations that he would abolish double taxation rules which currently affect a large group of Poles working abroad.

Again, not a shock. The average age of ex-pat Poles in the UK is around 26, and the majority of young Poles generally indicate they will vote for Civic Platform on Sunday.

Worldwide, 170,00 Poles have registered.

Maybe the key to getting Poles back to Poland – and everyone agrees that might be a good idea – is linked to the result of this election. Young Poles are not amazed by their weird, conservative government and want a change.

So everyone – young Poles and Brits, Irish and everyone else – are involved in this election, even if they can’t, or won’t be voting.

I will be blogging (and working, unfortunately) from 20.00 CET on Sunday night when the exit poll results come in, if you would like to join me.


YouNotSneaky! said...

"Maybe the key to getting Poles back to Poland – and everyone agrees that might be a good idea"

I don't. Improving things back home to attract them back might be, but improving things is in general a good idea in and of itself. If things don't improve, why should they get back to Poland?

beatroot said...

So you don't agree it would be a good idea to get people back to Poland?


varus said...

BR just out of interest, do your retain your vote in Britain, Vote in Poland or niether. I alas was too late/busy/lazy to organise a vote for myself in Poland and don't really agree with ex-pats voting by post when they are permantely away for a country. To me this means they are affecting the lives of others too much as they do not live with the consequences of their votes.

As far as the poll mentioned on the other post i would vote for either PO or LiD

Anonymous said...

Getting young Poles back home is good for the economy as they add skills, labour, dynamism and entrepreneurship.

Anonymous said...

I think that Poles voting abroad will make a difference.

Here's why: their votes count in Warsaw. That means 170K extra votes. In the last election, there was 1.4M of eligible voters in Warsaw. That's an extra 12% of votes, enough to noticably skew the result. Also take into account that winning in Warsaw usually has an enormous propaganda value (it's all personal there: KAczyński vs. Tusk), and you get the picture.

This is why Donald Tusk made a trip to London last week.

Anonymous said...

Also, this is a good occasion to estimate how many Poles are there really in the UK. All you would need to do is a random survey asking if they voted. Multiply the result by the number of the votes cast, and lo and behold, you have a pretty good estimation of the number of Poles in the UK.

Brad Zimmerman said...

There are lots of Poles in the UK that will be coming back no matter what. They have very strong family ties and that's that.

The group that is undecided, however, probably won't be coming back until they think it's financially worth it.

They'll weigh the hassle of speaking English, dealing with being an outsider, not just getting a job but a *good* job, and the expense of everything ...versus the fact that England isn't such a bad place if you have a decent job/wage. The public transportation works, the hospitals are ok and you don't have to worry about bribing the cops because they've been replaced by cameras.

I think that if anything sends Poles back it will be the sheer expense of everything. Who there can afford to buy a decent car or, god forbid, a decent home/flat when they are working a menial job? These things, along with good roads, good hospitals, a good job, good food and good cops are what people want. People want to be safe and secure, to know that the future will be better than it is now.

I think those are some tall orders for people coming back from the UK.

michael farris said...

about the UK "public transportation works"

IME I've never heard a Polish person say that public transport in the UK is better than in Poland. Quite the opposite, in fact.

Damien Moran said...

Brad said: 'you don't have to worry about bribing the cops because they've been replaced by cameras.'

Hahaha- thanks for that, I like to laugh on Fridays.

Opamp, good stat. breakdown. Taking into a/c Beatroot's reference to ex-pat survey it may well prove to be a worth while visit for Tusk and co.

Then you have the new polls. BR asked us to keep an eye on PGB. Well the new stats from them is that it is a tie with PO and PiS both at 32% - PiS however would have 170 seats compared to PO's 168. LiD would get 20% or 96 seats. LPR and PSL would also just scrape in. Samoobrona would be grazing on the lawn outside the Sejm.

Their poll was held amongst 1,600 people Oct. 15-17th.

Of course then there is the PBS DGA poll conducted on Oct 14-16th amongst c. 1,100 people.

PO are at 39% - 199 leather cushioned chairs with in-built electric massagers; PiS would attain 34% - 161 nail embedded metal seats (the kind of ones that make your ass get frostbite); LiD are vying for 15% - 68 hardback chairs (with special pouches underneath to hold large brown envelopes); PSL would have 6% - 30 seats made from organic bark remnants, cryogenically frozen cow dung and chicken eggshells; Samoobrona and LPR would fail to make the mark and thus would be tied in spiked metal chains in the dungeons beneath parliament.

michael farris said...

Turnout is the key.

The PiS electorate is stubborn and loyal and _will_ vote. As a group, they see themselves as backed into a corner with a PiS government as its only hope of warding off the wolves. The PiS electoral campaign runs on a potent mix of fear-mongering and self-righteous outrage. Most of it doesn't stand up to a moment's rational thought (or examination of known facts) but it gets the job done (the job being keeping the base on guard and nervous).

The PO electorate is fickle and lazy about voting and sees itself as having more options in the case of electoral defeat. What the hey, too many of them think, if things get too bad I can always ship off for a few years. PO campaigning is a dreadful, awkward mix of policy-wonk talking points and trying to explain itself. Not even supporters much like it or them very much.

The kingmakers are the undecided voters. If they get out of the house on sunday, they'll probably vote against whoever's in power and/or with or against whatever half-remembered bits and pieces they remember from tv ads.

All in all, I'm going to predict a PiS victory (but not enough to govern alone) and either:

- political meltdown as PiS remains unable to govern as a minority government or by itslef or form a coalition - more elections within a year and full speed ahead to full-time political chaos a la mode italianne.

- PiS will gut PO of enough members to form something like a coalition and push more of its worse policies. It will also step up its campaign of using state power to go after people that disagree with it politically.

If PO ekes out a win I don't know what will happen except that I'm sure that Kaczynski will do everything he can to subvert them and carve off members for his own party (whether he does this as opposition leader or coalition partner is the only question).

Anonymous said...

Yes, 68000 isn't much compared to those millions voting in Poland. But I've read that in 2005, only 1000 people voted in UK and Ireland. So this year it's 68 times more! Guess why - probably a lot of people got pissed off by what PiS is doing and they decided it's time to do something about it...

I think here in Poland the number of voters will also be much higher than 2 years ago. I've heard that about 60% say they're certainly going to vote and 10% that they're probably going to vote (only 40% voted 2 years ago). And I think most of these "new" voters will vote against PiS - they're mostly young people, students, who usually don't care about politics, but they don't like what's happening in Poland and they want to change this.

Anonymous said...


one of the main reasons there are so many more registered to vote in the UK this time is that there are 23 polling stations spread out around the country, instead of just 2 last time - both of which were in London.

Anonymous said...

A report just in . . .

A government spokesperson announced announced today that the ministry of health will double subsidies in support of beetroot research because it is considered a natural cure fer what ails ya.

beatroot said...

Will the money come out of the Common Agricultural Policy?

Varus. I haven’t actually voted in the UK since 1992 as I can see no party worthy of my vote. If there was a libertarian party there I would vote, but there ain’t.

In the next local and European election in Poland I can vote in, I am going to register as a candidate. Beatroot Party (I am serious).

Anonymous said...

Turnout is the key.

The people are pissed off. They will vote. We must remember that these polling stations are being setup because the people requested them. That, by itself, speaks volumes.

For Kaczyński any result other than getting 231 seats or more is a defeat, because nobody will want to form a coalition with him (unless there is a split within PO). And nobody since 1989 has managed to get these 231 seats. The polls do not indicate that, either.

beatroot said...

Lepper was heard saying as the microphones went off on a press conference last week that 'Everyone knows there will have to be another election in January.' Perfectly possible. But the PGB poll is interesting...they seem to be the only people who can get people to admit to voting PiS.

michael farris said...

Last PGB poll before the election:

PO 35%
PiS 31%
LiD 17%
PSL 8%
LPR 5%

outside - SO 3% others 1%

sonia said...

I hope the PO elephant will charge and its ivory tusk will blow the PiSsed ducks off their Ciemnogrodzki pond...

beatroot said...

PGB are churning out the polls, which are, in themselves, all over the place.

On balance, I still think it is odds on the Ducks. But, to be honest, its a duck shoot...or something. That's what is facinating about Polish elections - so many unknown unknowns....etc.

Question is: why are polls in Poland sooooo all over the place. I have been swatching and studying opinion polling for 20 years (it was a major part of the my degree) and I have never seen more unreliable polls than in Poland, It's a strange one. The opinion poll industry is worth millions and millions of zloty but if they cannot be relied apon, then what the f...are people paying for?

One of the worrying things about the latest PGB poll is that LPR are on five percent - enough to get into Sejm. I wanna see those bastards thrown out of parliament.

Anonymous said...

Poles in GB make it into a audio slide show in the NY Times:

Damien Moran said...

'I wanna see those bastards thrown out of parliament'

I'd like a ringside seat, please.

But don;t forget, they've got a pile of novenas being bellowed to the high heavens this weekend so watch their numbers eternally rise to vomit-churning numbers during the count as the worst of Poland's clerics' incantations instruct nasty, fallen putrid seraphims and cherubims to divinely aid the Giertych machine.

Why do we want to see Roman's tail trail out of the Sejm. Well, it's because he says things like this?

"In Polish and European culture, people are dressed, not undressed. If someone wants to imitate the customs of Bantu tribes or the Masai, they should move from Europe to Africa."

-Roman Giertych, explaining why he is against women sunbathing topless on the beach (July, 2003)

michael farris said...

I could _almost_ accept a narrow PiS victory if it meant kicking the sorry asses of both LPR and SO out of the sejm.

A PiS victory plus either of those clown-car crazee shows still with a toe in the door would be too much.

and beat, mr. chodakiewicz (approvingly linked to by the lovely jannovak) thinks of Jan "keep those cripples away from my kids" Korwin-Mikke as a libertarian (HA! HA! HA! libertarians! you get korwin-mikke!!!!). Will you be voting for him?

Damien Moran said...

BR, expand on the libertarian party thingy you said. I fear U.S. readers quickly passing by here will pick you up wrongly. I know you're not a Korwin-Mickey fan, so clarify what beatroot-libertarainism would look like.

Would you put restrictions on people from bringing super-truck sized prams and idiots bringing bicycles into my local bazaar on a Saturday aftejavascript:void(0)
Publish Your Commentrnoon when it's so jam-packed that some shoppers even end up crowd-surfing to get to the exit gate? Or does that breach libertarian freedom of movement, assembly, right to buy spuds with a bit of muck on them, etc. ;)

michael farris said...

The ideological libertarian position (as I understand it) would be that admittance to the bazaar should depend on the owners of said bazaar who can and should deny admittance to anyone they please for any reason they please (including race, religion, health status etc).

However, if the land the bazaar takes place on is 'public property' then restoring it to private ownership is of far greater urgency that complaining about baby carriages and/or bicycles.

Anonymous said...

M. Farris wrote:

"owners of said bazaar who can and should deny admittance to anyone they please for any reason they please"

Isn't that the way the K-twins feel about you furriners?

beatroot said...

Korwin Mickey? Never, ever vote for a politician who wears a bow tie � they are near3y always wankers.

Libertarianism sees the individual, and voluntary collectivities comprising individuals, as sovereign. So the state should have the right to interfere in their affairs, except in certain circumstances � see JS Mill for those circumstances.

Even when I was a paid up member of the Lefty Club I always thought that the state acted in the interest of the powerful etc. What did Marx say � the state in the executive branch of the bourgeoisie...or something like that.

As it is, the state in the west seems to think it has the right to regulate intimate areas of personal behaviour � from smoking in pubs, how much wine we dink in the privacy of our own homes (the latest wheeze by New Labour in the UK) to Anti-Social Orders, curfews etc. In Poland they seem to think that it is the states business what sexuality you are. Etc.

And western states seem to think they have the right to dictate to poorer states how they develop, the fate of their dictators etc.

I think communities and individuals can take those decisions for themselves.

Damien Moran said...

M. Farris wrote:

"owners of said bazaar who can and should deny admittance to anyone they please for any reason they please"

Geez wrote
"Isn't that the way the K-twins feel about you furriners?"

I write:

Not really. They're actually making it easier for employers to employ foreigners, cutting the fees, bureaucracy, etc.

May have something to do with the shit loads of Chinese that will help prepare the country for Euro2012.

Frank Partisan said...

You don't mean libertarianism as in the US? More likely something similar to Graeme from East dakota?

YouNotSneaky! said...

Sorry, I didn't have time to respond earlier.

"So you don't agree it would be a good idea to get people back to Poland? "

Not by itself. It would be a good idea to make the Polish economy a modern and robust one which generates high incomes, but that is a good in itself, and people coming back because of it would just be a side effect.

"Getting young Poles back home is good for the economy as they add skills, labour, dynamism and entrepreneurship."

Maybe, maybe not. The return to those skills, labour, dynamism and entrepreneurship is lower in Poland than abroad. So it may very well make sense - and be better off even for folks back home - if those young go abroad, get the higher wages and send remittances back home. Then people back home can use the remittances to start up new business, employ more people, build new houses etc.

Also, there's a pretty large literature on the effects of the so called "brian drain" and the results seem to be pretty mixed. Even if it is somewhat costly for some countries sometimes, it's hard to argue that these costs are large. Or that they're greater then the benefits of remittances by migrants, which are very very large (there's more remittance money then foreign aid flows and for some countries more than trade flows)

beatroot said...

...which is all correct, but the reluctance of this government to grasp the nettle and open up the country to immigration will store up real bottle necks in the future. It is happening laready. WE have a booming economy at a time of a 'brain drain.' That is quite unique - usually booming economies suck in labour...Poland is leaking its.

Tim Harrell said...

The phenomenon beatroot mentions of a booming economy coinciding with an exodus of workers is not quite unique to Poland - it's also apparent in the Baltic States. For instance, the Latvian economy has been overheating for some time, yet it's also seen a larger percentage of its population leave the country than Poland has (see this week's article from the Economist on the possible devaluation of the Lat).

I agree that they need to tackle labour bottlenecks though, particularly in Warsaw (I have a friend who regularly drives along the road towards Poznan to a certain petrol station about 40Km out in order to pick up Ukrainian workers to help build his house).

YouNotSneaky! said...

"..which is all correct, but the reluctance of this government to grasp the nettle and open up the country to immigration will store up real bottle necks in the future. "

You mean Polish government opening up to outside immigrants? I totally agree on that. But they should do this regardless whether there's a lot of out migration or not.

"WE have a booming economy at a time of a 'brain drain.' That is quite unique - usually booming economies suck in labour...Poland is leaking its."

But part of the issue is exactly that you might have reverse causation here. Some Poles go abroad. They send money back (or they go back after sometime themselves, with savings and higher skills) and then that money fuels construction, business start ups etc. back in Poland.
To be exact, I'm not arguing that the entire boom is fueled by remittances and the money from abroad. But it probably adds to it.

YouNotSneaky! said...

What you know, I was just speculatin' above and then checked Rzepa for election results and found this:,63974.html

beatroot said...

'outside immigrants'...well, you can;t have inside immigrants, can ya!

beatroot said...

And do you honestly believe that the money sent back to Poland is causing the boom?

YouNotSneaky! said...

Just wondering about whether you're talking people coming in or people going out.

According to the Rzepa article the money sent back add's from .2 to .3 of a percent to the growth rate. In terms of growth rates that's nothing to sneeze at, particularly if it all comes from one place. I'm not exactly sure how their economist got that number but it sounds plausible. And it's far more than what the people earning that money could contribute if they were back in Poland making much lower wages with much lower productivity (due in large part to crappy regulations).

YouNotSneaky! said...

Also you can have inside immigrants. Like moving from Torun to Kielce. Though why anyone would move to Kielce is beyond me:

beatroot said...

So I wonder how much growth rate is reduced in the UK, in that case? If you know the answer then don't tell the Daily Mail.

YouNotSneaky! said...

It's not a zero sum game! That's the beauty of allocating resources where they're more productive. Both countries can gain.