LAW AND JUSTICE (Prawo i sprawiedliwosc, PiS):
The party of Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the prime minister, is locked in a tight race with the main opposition group, the Civic Platform. Socially conservative, Law and Justice combines traditional views on issues such as abortion and gay rights with scepticism about liberal economic policies. It favours state intervention and has made law and order the core of its platform. It is seen as eurosceptic and mistrusts Poland's EU neighbour Germany. Critics accuse the party of undermining democracy by trying to weaken the judiciary and muzzle state media.
Latest opinion polls: 23-34 per cent
CIVIC PLATFORM (Platforma obywatelska, PO):
A centre-right party defending a liberal economic agenda. It favours quick entry into the euro-zone and pro-business policies such as lower taxes. Promises "an Ireland-like economic miracle". It is mildly conservative on social issues although more liberal than PiS. Its leader, Donald Tusk, unsuccessfully ran against Lech Kaczynski, the president and twin brother of the prime minister, in 2005. It appeals mostly to a young, urban electorate.
Latest opinion polls: 30-43 per cent
LEFT AND DEMOCRATS (Lewica i demokraci):
The second largest opposition grouping is an alliance of former communists and a small party of left-leaning liberals who once were part of the anti-communist movement. Led by the former president, Aleksander Kwasniewski, it is seen as a potential coalition partner for the PO because it favours pro-business policies as long as they are combined with active social policy. It also wants a quick adoption of the Euro and is the most pro-EU among Polish parties. Some analysts say the party may prefer to stay in opposition.
Latest opinion polls: 10-20 per cent
POLISH PEASANT PARTY (Polskie stronnictwo ludowe, PSL):
PSL is the only Polish grouping which has survived political turbulence in the same shape and under the same name since the collapse of communism 18 years ago. It is led by Waldemar Pawlak, a former prime minister - a centrist - and has the support of the more affluent part of the Polish countryside. The party is allied with the Civic Platform but could also join a Law and Justice-led coalition.
Latest opinion polls: five to eight per cent
|Donald Tusk' party is credited with 30 to 43%|
of vote intentions [AFP]
Rural-based party which used to oppose market reforms and Poland's drive to join the EU. Formed by Andrzej Lepper, it was a surprise partner of Law and Justice after the 2005 election. Lepper's sacking over a corruption investigation prompted the collapse of the government and the early poll. The party may struggle to pass the five per cent threshold to enter parliament.
Latest opinion polls: one to four per cent
LEAGUE OF THE RIGHT (Liga prawicy):
An ad-hoc alliance of nationalist, ultra-liberal and staunchly Catholic groupings. Its leading member, the League of Polish Families, is seen by critics at home and abroad as xenophobic. The alliance is also fighting to pass the five per cent threshold.
Latest polls: one to six per cent