Most Poles think Warsaw should give ground in EU dispute: Survey

New poll suggests strong public disapproval of the stance the Polish government has taken in legal row with Brussels.

Poland flag
The legal quarrel is the latest flashpoint in years of tension between Brussels and Poland’s governing right-wing Law and Justice party since it came to power in 2015 [File: Ints Kalnins/Reuters]

Nearly three-quarters of Poles think Warsaw should accept some or all European Union demands to roll back domestic judicial reforms the bloc says violate the rule of law, a new survey has indicated.

Tuesday’s IBRiS poll for Poland’s Rzeczpospolita newspaper suggested there is widespread and strong disapproval of the stance the Polish government has taken in the acrimonious dispute.

The crisis erupted on October 7, when Poland’s Constitutional Tribunal ruled that parts of EU treaties were incompatible with the country’s constitution, aggravating already fraught relations between Warsaw and Brussels.

Poland was already at risk of losing billions in EU funds for failing to comply with demands to roll back the judicial reforms concerning the selection of judges that Brussels argues undermine the independence of the country’s courts.

According to Tuesday’s IBRiS poll for Rzeczpospolita daily, 40.8 percent of respondents believed the government should admit defeat and end the dispute as soon as possible, while 32.5 percent thought it should compromise and accept some of Brussels’s conditions.

Only 23 percent believed the government should not compromise at all, even if that means losing EU funds.

Poland has argued that the EU is overstepping its mandate. In a Financial Times interview published on Sunday, the governing nationalist Law and Justice Party’s (PiS) Prime Minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, accused the European Commission of holding a “gun to our head”.

But PiS has also said it has no plans for a so-called “Polexit” from the EU despite the tensions.

Meanwhile, surveys suggested that the Polish public remains overwhelmingly pro-European, with two this month putting support for EU membership at 90 percent. Poland joined the 27-member bloc in 2004.

Anna Materska-Sosnowska, a political scientist at Warsaw University said public opinion might persuade the government to compromise.

However, that could alienate hard-right voters, political scientist Rafal Chwedoruk told Rzeczpospolita. “It will be more and more difficult for the government,” he was quoted as saying.

Such voters could be key to PiS’s hopes of gaining an absolute parliamentary majority in national elections scheduled for 2023. PiS is currently just short of a majority.

An IBRiS poll published on Monday put support for the party at 36 percent, in line with recent similar surveys but down from the 43.6 percent who voted for it during the country’s last parliamentary election, in 2019.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies