Division inside the current ruling Polish coalition government (the Zjednoczona Prawica or United Right bloc) is not exactly a new phenomenon: there has been a long-running turmoil at the heart of Polish politics since Spring 2020, when severe disagreements around the timing and legality of last year's Presidential elections first erupted, adding a constant backdrop of political conflict to the pandemic response.
However, the latest impasse around elements of the government's long-signposted and recently launched Polish New Deal
has felt different. This week, the ongoing conflict culminated in an ultimatum from minor coalition partner the Accord party to leave the coalition unless certain PND policies and the controversial new media law were reversed. This led to the dismissal of Accord leader (& Deputy PM & Minister of Development) Jarosław Gowing from the government by PM Mateusz Morawiecki, prompting the party to leave the coalition government and threaten the ruling bloc's majority rule.
The high-profile conflict and fracturing of the coalition has revitalized the fragmented and long under-performing opposition, buoyed by the return to domestic politics of the ZP's traditional bête-noire Donald Tusk (current President of the European People's Party, former President of the European Council and Polish PM from 2007-14). Against a backdrop of government turmoil, Tusk's return now has the potential to become a major milestone in modern domestic Polish politics, with a government struggling to remain in power and a long-subdued opposition sensing a potential shift in momentum and route back to government via possible snap elections.
Below, we take a more detailed look at the ongoing tensions within Polish politics, analyze the likely impact of Tusk's return and outline potential short-term scenarios on how events could unfold.