Poland’s liberals have received a valuable lesson on the dangers of
getting too close to the conservatives – a lesson that might not be
totally irrelevant in Australia.

Crikey readers will remember that in Poland’s legislative election,
held on 25 September, the incumbent social democrats were heavily
defeated. The two main opposition parties, Law and Justice
(conservatives) and Citizens Platform (free market liberals), won a
large majority between them and were expected to go into coalition.

Then came last month’s presidential election, when the Law and Justice
candidate unexpectedly beat the Citizens Platform candidate in a
run-off. Now, as the BBC
reports, coalition talks have broken down and the conservatives have
formed a minority government under new prime minister Kazimierz

There seems to be not much that the liberals can do about it. The
social democrats lost so badly that even with their support the
liberals would be well short of a majority (figures are available at Psephos).
The balance of power is held by two populist parties (one on the left
and one on the right) and the centrist Polish People’s Party (or Polish
Peasant Party – translations differ).

The BBC says that the two parties had “secured many votes on a promise
to rule together,” but instead the new government “will need ad hoc
alliances to push its program through.” Perhaps next time the
politicians (or the voters) will remember that liberals and
conservatives aren’t always natural allies.