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Monday, December 11, 2023

Referendum 2023. Referendum question on migrants. The electoral benefits may be gained by the Confederation, not by PiS, says sociologist Wojciech Rafałowski

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The third referendum question concerning migrants may have the most serious negative consequences for Law and Justice itself. The main party that can benefit from asking this question, i.e. putting it on the electoral agenda, is the Confederation, not PiS, assessed Dr. hab. on TVN24. Wojciech Rafałowski, political sociologist from the University of Warsaw.

Law and Justice started the action of presenting further referendum questions on Friday. The first question – as announced by PiS president Jarosław Kaczyński – will read: “Do you support the sale of state-owned enterprises?”, and the second – as reported by PiS vice-president, former prime minister Beata Szydło – “Are you in favor of raising the retirement age to 60 for women and 65 for men today?”.

The third question was announced by the prime minister on Sunday Mateusz Morawiecki and it will read: Do you support the admission of thousands of illegal immigrants from the Middle East and Africa, according to the forced relocation mechanism imposed by the European bureaucracy?

READ ALSO: PiS submitted the third referendum question

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The draft EU regulation on migrants, which is still at the stage of work, does not assume the forced admission of migrants, which was explained by the EU Commissioner herself, as well as TVN24 correspondent in Brussels, Maciej Sokołowski.

Rafałowski: The goal of each referendum question is to impose a given issue as a campaign topic

The third referendum question was commented on Sunday in “You get up and weekend” on TVN24, dr hab. Wojciech Rafałowski, political sociologist from the University of Warsaw.

As he said, “the question in this case is part of a wider mechanism of how Law and Justice is trying to structure the agenda of this election campaign.” He added that the purpose of each of these referendum questions “is to impose a given issue as a campaign topic, a topic that should be useful and convenient for Law and Justice.”

– This is a mechanism that has been described in research for thirty years. Whoever manages to define the campaign around topics that will benefit the party wins elections. Such a rule in political science has been formulated. And indeed, Law and Justice tries to find topics that are beneficial to it. You can say that he is probing, hence the release of one question a day to see how other groups will respond to it, how they will react – explained the TVN24 guest.

He added that it can be seen that “these first two questions met with some polemics and this reception was basically based on an attempt to show the hypocrisy of PiS when it comes to individual issues.”

Sociologist: the benefits of asking the third question may be beneficial for the Confederacy

– The question of refugees, or illegal immigrants in general, as the ruling party tries to define it, is perhaps important and interesting in that it can have the most serious negative consequences for Law and Justice itself – assessed Rafałowski.

Why? – Because, while in the case of the other two questions, Law and Justice could somehow build arguments that these are indeed their topics, that it has an advantage here in relation to these topics, when it comes to immigrants, it is the main party that can electoral benefit from asking this question, that is, from putting it on the electoral agenda, is Confederationrather than Law and Justice, he said.

– Therefore, Law and Justice, by asking this question, forcing us all to debate this problem in the election campaign, will de facto create a strong Confederation – he added.

Rafałowski noted that “Law and Justice has received many immigrants to Poland in recent years.” – The number of these work permits was high, which has already been indicated by the opposition party, so here the credibility is not high. If someone is really against immigrants, they will vote for the Confederation, not for Law and Justice, he assessed.

Rafałowski: this is a question that clearly suggests an answer

The sociologist also referred to the structure of the third referendum question. – There is a whole series of negative terms here, which are clearly intended to arouse the reluctance of the decision maker, the voter voting in the referendum, to the presented problem. This is something that sociologists know very well from their second year of studies, when they learn how to ask questions and, above all, how not to ask questions, that this is a question that clearly suggests an answer, he said.

He added that “this is not the correct way to ask a referendum question.”

He pointed out that the question asked in the referendum “should be simple on the one hand, but at the same time it should concern a very important problem.”

He noted that the previous referendums in Poland concerned “fundamental problems”. – It was a referendum related to the constitution, related to accession to the European Union. Also a referendum related to single-member constituencies. It was strategically problematic, but from the point of view of the political system and deciding on the electoral system, it is a fundamental problem and the referendum is something that can be used to make decisions in this matter – he mentioned. – Here we are dealing with topics of a much lower rank – said Rafałowski.

Main photo source: Shutterstock

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