The joke begins: “What do Poles and polls have in common?” The answer is, of course, “they are both unreliable”. While the first idea (Poles) is far from the truth, there is no doubting the second (polls). Moreover, put the two together – Polish polls – and we are left with one of the most unreliable weapons in today’s political arsenal in Poland. One needs to simply spend a few moments looking at the opinion polls conducted in Poland, and their results, to realise how bizarre they really are. What is more, these results, however skewed or odd they might appear to be, do not seem to stop politicians, and political commentators and journalists alike, from following them on a daily basis. Poland really is the Land of the Polls.
Following the recent ‘gamble-gate’ scandal which saw PM Tusk dismiss several members of his government together with the head of the Central Anti-Corruption Bureau (CBA), PiS-oriented Mariusz Kamiński, opinion polls have been all over the place and, at best, contradictory. Some polls suggest an erosion of support for Tusk and Civic Platform (PO), others find Tusk gaining even more ground on Lech Kaczyński and Law and Justice (PiS). All in all, Polish opinion polls, rather than clarify the attitudes of Poles, seem to confuse, confound and obscure what the masses think.
In recent times, opinion polls seem to have begun exerting a huge influence on political spin doctors who in turn have an increasing say in creating the images and policies of leading politicians and parties in Poland. But can these opinion polls be trusted? Looking at the research we can see a wild array of statistics:
PO 39%, PiS 18%, SLD 9%, PSL 7%
Wirtualna Polska – Gemius (6 Oct 2009)
PO 48%, PiS 28%, SLD 10%, PSL 6%
Gazeta Wyborcza – PBS DGA (4 Oct 2009)
Taking a look at what has been going on in the past six months we see that either the institutions that undertake the research for these opinion polls are making some heinous mistakes in their calculations or Polish people are fickle in their political alleigances. One way or another, polls simply cannot be trusted.