Last week, former president Aleksander Kwaśniewski announced that he would be creating a list of leftist candidates whom he would support in the 2014 European Parliamentary elections. Mr Kwaśniewski did not rule out running for an MEP seat himself.
The former president made the announcement in the company of Janusz Palikot, the leader of Palikot's Movement and Marek Siwiec, a longtime Kwaśniewski ally who quit the party the former president co-created, Democratic Left Alliance (SLD), a few weeks ago in order to join this initiative.
Unsurprisingly, SLD was unhappy with Mr Kwaśniewski's decision, since it feels he is betraying them in favor of their rival on the left, Palikot's Movement. In recent years, Mr Kwaśniewski has distanced himself from the party he helped create and the former president's relationship with current SLD leader, Leszek Miller, has famously been described as “rough.”
A dress rehearsal
Naturally, the EP elections in 2014 are merely a dress rehearsal for the all-important parliamentary elections in Poland scheduled for 2015.
If Mr Kwaśniewski's new leftist coalition gets a positive result in 2014 then it could use that momentum to set itself up for a good performance on the domestic scene the next year, possibly paving the way for a return to power of Mr Kwaśniewski.
Personally, I think this scenario is unlikely.
Granted, Aleksander Kwaśniewski was a very popular two-term president who left office with a 60 percent approval rating. But that is by no means a guarantee that he will be equally successful this time around.
Politics has changed since Mr Kwaśniewski left office in 2005. One of the reasons the former president was so popular was because he was always careful to use guarded diplomatic language and avoided public conflict. “No drama Kwaśniewski” adequately sums up his decade-long presidency.
Worked then, doesn't have to work now
But what worked to Mr Kwaśniewski's advantage a decade ago could very well be a disadvantage today. These days, politicians have to fight tooth and nail for media attention in a way they didn't have to in the pre-social media era.
Nowadays, it is politicians like Mr Kwaśniewski's new partner, Janusz Palikot, who get noticed thanks to their often coarse, brutal and offensive language. That is certainly not Mr Kwaśniewski's style, so the question is will a soft-spoken, inoffensive and relatively uncontroversial politician get noticed today?
Also, the ideological divide functioning in Poland when Mr Kwaśniewski was last in politics has more or less disappeared.
In those days the political scene was divided almost evenly between the right-wing, post-Solidarity, former democratic opposition members and the leftist, post-communist remnants of the old system. Mr Kwaśniewski represented the latter group and was very effective in presenting his post-Solidarity opponents as aggressive and unreasonable.
Poles are conservative by nature
Today that post-Solidarity, post-communist dividing line is virtually non-existent.
Meanwhile, the ideological battle currently capturing voters' imagination is the one between the euroskeptic, ultra-conservative Law and Justice and the pro-European, moderately conservative ruling Civic Platform.
This divide is the more natural one in Poland as only some 30 percent of Poles describe themselves as having leftist views. The overwhelming majority of Poles are slightly, moderately or very conservative, which doesn't bode well for a new leftist formation.
The reason Mr Kwaśniewski was successful as a president was because he always positioned himself as a centrist and thus won the support of many voters who would never describe themselves as leftist.
Today however, Prime Minister Donald Tusk and his Civic Platform party are firmly in the center of the political scene themselves and hardly appear willing to cede ground to the former president and his new allies.
And let's not forget that the ex-president has backed a leftist coalition before, with little success. In the 2007 parliamentary elections, Left and Democrats, a center-left political alliance backed by Aleksander Kwaśniewski, won 13 percent of the vote. Hardly impressive.
Of the leftist voters who do exist, at least a third will likely stay with the Democratic Left Alliance, a well-established party with strong national structures. And so that leaves Mr Kwaśniewski and his list with a potential maximum pool of some 20 percent of the electorate. That is not enough to rule Poland. It could be enough to become part of a governing coalition, maybe, but not as the senior member. And so talk of a “prime minister Kwaśniewski” are more signs of wishful thinking amongst his supporters than realistic political assumptions.
Then there is Mr Palikot.
Teaming up with him is a big risk for the former president. While Mr Kwaśniewski has always maintained a high standard of decorum in his public appearances, Janusz Palikot is a loose cannon, not immune to bouts of coarse, primitive and off-putting behavior.
Right now both politicians obviously think they can be beneficial to each other, but while Mr Palikot has doubtless gotten some good PR with the mere mention of his name alongside Mr Kwaśniewski's, the former president might end up damaging his own image thanks to association with the erratic Mr Palikot.
Aleksander Kwaśniewski obviously misses politics and wants to get back in the game. But he might be in for a rude shock. The game has changed since 2005 and the former president might not be so willing to play once he learns the new rules.