Well, as this blog keeps saying economics alone is not enough to win elections. Each election of any country, both the pink and white media keep stressing that only economics matters. If economy is fine, the ruling party has a chance else it has to be voted out. It all boils down to the narrative the party builds which has to be acceptable to the public.
Jacek Rostowski Poland’s Minister of Finance has an interesting piece on recent Polish elections. He wonders how the outgoing party – Civic Platform – actually lost the elections despite achieving a good economic performance:
How can a government with the best economic record in Europe (indeed in the entire OECD) be humiliated at the polls by a Euroskeptic, nationalistic, and economically illiterate opposition – one deemed unelectable only a year ago? That is the question many Poles, and friends of Poland, are now asking, following the defeat on October 25 of the Civic Platform government. If creating jobs and boosting incomes can’t get you re-elected, what can?
One reason for the opposition’s victory is, of course, universal: after a time, people everywhere want change, and Civic Platform had been in power since 2007. And impatience with the status quo is arguably stronger in the post-communist countries of Central and Eastern Europe, where much of the social, political, and economic order is yet to be generally accepted. Indeed, Civic Platform’s Donald Tusk was Poland’s first post-communist prime minister to win successive terms.
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What is specific to Poland is that the past eight years have apparently created a pronounced case of cognitive dissonance. Annual GDP growth averaged 3.2% over this period; and, unlike in the rich West, both inequality and unemployment have actually fallen, with growth mainly benefiting the middle three quintiles of the income distribution. This segment of the population – usually politically crucial – enjoyed a 28% rise in per capita real income from 2007 to 2014.
At one level, Poles are aware of this, with large majorities describing financial conditions in their own families, workplaces, and social environments as either “good” or “very good.” The dissonance is that equally large majorities also describe Poland’s economic situation and the “direction in which the country is moving” as either “bad” or “very bad.”
Elections are a choice, not an auction between competing lists of promises, with victory simply going to the highest bidder. Civic Platform lost because it failed to explain to Poles its own view of that choice. It hardly mattered that the opposition’s program lacked credibility: Civic Platform had already become the architect of its own defeat.