A Polish political party which contested parliamentary elections in that country last year is organising a local branch in Northern Ireland, it has confirmed.
In a statement ‘Razem Ireland’ described itself as “an Irish branch of the Razem Party (Together Party) in Poland” and said it was “a social democratic political initiative” focusing on:
• Job stability and rights;
• Redistribution [of wealth] through progressive taxation;
• Opposing deregulation and privatisation;
• A progressive social agenda supporting LGBT rights and gender quotas.
Professor Nicholas Whyte of the faculty of Social Sciences at the Ulster University said the Polish population in Northern Ireland does not have enough density to elect anyone on the strength of Polish votes. The two largest Polish wards – in Ballymena and Dungannon – have only around nine per cent Polish voters.
The party got less than four per cent of the vote in the Polish parliamentary elections in October and did not win a seat. But it would expect less than four per cent of the emigrant vote as such people are less progressive than the average Polish person; the Polish middle classes tend to be more liberal and more financially secure and less likely to emigrate.
Party spokeswoman Justyna Mokry, 38, is the Irish coordinator for the party. Based in Cork, she is a full-time mum, married with two children, and previously worked for a Polish welfare charity.
“There are too few members to stand in this election in Northern Ireland,” she told the News Letter. “We will think about it for the future.”
In the meantime, they aim to cooperate with other left-wing parties. There is a prospective plan to stand for election in Dublin first.
“The party will discuss this when it meets on January 23,” she said.
It currently has no position on union with the UK.
She acknowledges her party got only 3.9 per cent of the vote in October in Poland but says it was a good result as the party only launched in May.
Mrs Mokry confirmed that Polish emigrants are much less progressive than the average Polish person, which does not bode well for her party gaining traction among them.
“But I hope when Polish emigrants hear about what we want to do for our community they would want to cooperate with us.”
She acknowledged that “most Poles support right-wing parties” but said they will focus on Polish votes and workers’ rights.
An information stall will be on Hill Street, Newry on January 23 at 1pm. In case of bad weather it will move to the Foresters Club at 2.30pm.
PUP councillor John Kyle said: “Job security is an issue for many workers but in my view creating a Polish political party is unwise and could increase division rather than integration”.
The PUP would be willing to fight for job security and would be happy to work with any Poles who felt unjustly treated, he added.
Commentator Alex Kane commended choice in elections but expressed concern that the party “would hinder rather than help the integration of Polish”.
The DUP said all participation in democracy is welcome and that it was “happy to seek support right across the community”.