Polls before Sundays elections show women under 30 typically more liberal than young men
Out on the campaign trail before Polands parliamentary elections, Jolanta Banach, a leftwing candidate, has noticed a recurring pattern. Theres a young couple out for a walk with a pushchair, and I approach them to offer our campaign leaflets. The guy says: No, we dont want it. And then the woman says: Actually, Id like one please.
Its an anecdotal indication of what polls suggest is a significant divide between young men and women in their political views, with men under 30 more likely to support nationalist parties and hold far-right views, and women much more liberal or leftwing in their outlook.
Sundays elections will show how Poland is divided between supporters and opponents of the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, which has based its message on taking pride in Polishness and fighting off supposedly foreign gender and LGBT ideology.
The split manifests itself along many lines: countryside versus cities; the poorer east against the more affluent west. It was long thought that gender did not play much of a role, with PiS even drawing slightly more support among women than men in the 2015 elections (a situation mirrored in Hungary, where the far-right ruling Fidesz party won a higher share of female than male votes in elections last year). But among younger Poles there is a growing divergence between the sexes, especially in support for Konfederacja, a grouping even further to the right than PiS.
Over recent years we saw young women active in the black protests [against a total ban on abortion] and men active in far-right marches. There was a general sense that young people became politically active in different ways, even if they werent voting in elections, but there was almost no research looking specifically at their views, said Krzysztof Pacewicz, a columnist for Gazeta Wyborcza.
In April, before the European elections, Pacewicz commissioned a poll of 800 young Poles for the newspaper and the results were startling. Among men aged 18-30, 62% said they supported nationalist, populist or far-right parties and 33% backed liberal or leftwing ones. Among women, 55% supported liberal or leftwing parties and 43% were in favour of the nationalists.
In another survey last month, Poles under 40 were asked to name the biggest threat facing the country. Among women the most popular answer was the climate crisis, while among men it was gender ideology and the LGBT movement.
PiS, just like Viktor Orbns Fidesz in Hungary, has built its popularity partly on financial incentives and welfare payments for families with children, which have earned the support of many women. However, both governments have engaged in increasing populist and far-right rhetoric, with Orbn focusing on migration and PiS recently targeting the threat of gender ideology and LGBT rights harming a supposedly traditional Polish way of life.