The governing Law and Justice (PiS) party claimed 43.59 percent of the vote in Sunday’s election and won 235 seats to maintain a majority in the 460-seat lower house of parliament, the National Electoral Commission said on Monday evening after all the ballots were counted.
Meanwhile, the largest opposition bloc, the Civic Coalition, led by the Civic Platform (PO) party, won 27.40 percent of the vote and 134 seats in the lower house, according to the final data released by the National Electoral Commission.
A bloc of three leftist parties led by the post-communist Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) finished third at the ballot box with 12.56 percent of the vote, a showing that opened the way for left-wing parties to return to parliament after a hiatus of four years with 49 lower-house seats.
The Polish Coalition of the rural-based Polish People’s Party (PSL) and the anti-establishment Kukiz’15 grouping finished fourth with 8.55 percent and 30 seats, according to the full results announced by the National Electoral Commission.
The right-wing nationalist Confederation group, with 6.81 percent, also crossed the 5-percent voter support threshold that Polish parties need to clear to enter parliament and secured 11 seats in the Sejm, the lower chamber of the country's bicameral legislature, according to the official election returns.
The remaining one lower-house seat went to the German minority.
Opposition wins upper-house majority
Meanwhile, the ruling conservatives lost their majority in the 100-seat upper house, the Senate, with the opposition winning a total of 48 seats and a further three going to independent candidates critical of the governing Law and Justice party, Poland's PAP news agency reported.
The upper house has power to initiate legislation, and it can also defeat bills approved by the lower house. The Sejm needs to muster an absolute majority to override Senate amendments.
Polish voters went to the ballot box on Sunday to choose lawmakers in the 460-seat lower house of parliament, the Sejm, and in the 100-seat Senate for a four-year term.
Turnout was a record 61.74 percent, the most in a parliamentary ballot in Poland since 1989—up from 50.92 percent in 2015 and 48.92 percent four years earlier.
'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.”
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.
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.
International media outlets have widely reported on the Polish elections.
Source: TVP, PAP