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I UNDERSTAND
English Section

Poland’s ruling conservatives win parliamentary vote - election authority

14.10.2019 09:09
Poland's ruling conservatives have won a convincing victory over opposition parties in the country's parliamentary elections and secured a second term in power, according to provisional data announced by electoral officials on Monday.
Members of Polands National Electoral Commission.
Members of Poland's National Electoral Commission.Photo: PAP/Marcin Obara

With 99.49 percent of the ballots counted, the governing Law and Justice (PiS) party had 43.76 percent of the vote, while the largest opposition bloc, the Civic Coalition, led by the Civic Platform (PO) party, had 27.24 percent, the National Electoral Commission said on Monday afternoon.

A block of three leftist parties led by the post-communist Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) finished third in Sunday's election with 12.52 percent, a result that would open the way for a left-wing grouping to return to parliament after a hiatus of four years, according to the data released by the National Electoral Commission.

The Polish Coalition of the rural-based Polish People’s Party (PSL) and the anti-establishment Kukiz’15 grouping finished fourth with 8.58 percent, the data showed.

The right-wing nationalist Confederation group, with 6.79 percent, also crossed the 5-percent voter support threshold that Polish parties need to clear to enter parliament, according to the latest data.

Polish voters went to the ballot box on Sunday to choose 460 MPs and 100 senators for a four-year term.

The National Electoral Commission was expected to release the final results of the vote later on Monday.

'Poland must continue changing': conservative leader

Law and Justice leader Jarosław Kaczyński claimed victory after an exit poll was released when the polls closed on Sunday evening. He told cheering supporters: “We’ve won; we’ve managed to win despite a powerful front against us.”

He added: “We have four years of hard work ahead of us because Poland must continue changing, and it must be changing for the better.”

Poland's conservative Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said the exit polls results showed Law and Justice had been given an “enormous social mandate.”

Meanwhile, Grzegorz Schetyna, leader of the opposition Civic Platform party, said after exit poll results came through: “We didn't feel that we were taking part in a fair battle, that our opponent was using fair methods.”

Booming economy

Triumphant Law and Justice supporters have claimed the result vindicated the party’s determination to share the benefits of the country’s booming economy with poorer citizens, while defending traditional Catholic values, fending off what it sees as Western political correctness, and seeking to ensure Poland punches its weight on the international arena.

With an opposition divided into separate blocs, pre-election polls had indicated that Law and Justice was well ahead, buoyed by an economy that has been one of the strongest performers in the EU and by historically low unemployment.

Polish GDP grew 5.1 percent in 2018, the third-fastest economic growth that year in the European Union, which Poland joined in 2004.

Generous handouts

Since coming to power in a landslide 2015 election win, Poland’s conservatives have introduced popular benefits for families with children, increased the minimum wage and promised extra handouts for pensioners, while securing extra revenues through a high-profile clampdown on VAT fraud.

Despite criticism that the conservatives would not be able to afford their swathe of spending pledges, Poland's government last month approved a balanced budget for 2020 that expects the economy to grow 3.7 percent, with inflation targeted at 2.5 percent

Opposition parties, led by the economically liberal Civic Platform, which was in power from 2007 to late 2015, claim that Law and Justice has eroded democracy and judicial independence, especially through sweeping changes to the justice system which have brought Warsaw into conflict with Brussels.

Law and Justice vehemently denies the charges.

(gs-pk)

Source: TVP, PAP