Poland's governing Law and Justice (PiS) party won a convincing victory over opposition parties in the country's parliamentary elections, according to provisional data announced by electoral officials on Monday.
‘A party that delivers' on its promises: BBC
The BBC reported that, with most results in, Poland's "conservative nationalist" party had more than 40 percent of the vote, enough to boost its majority in the lower house of parliament.
The party’s main rival, the centrist Civic Coalition (KO), had over a quarter of the vote, the BBC reported.
The British public broadcaster said that Law and Justice was on course to win the highest percentage of votes since democracy was restored in Poland in 1989.
“If the partial result is confirmed, the party would have a slightly increased majority and a strong mandate to continue its socially conservative programme,” the BBC said on its website.
The broadcaster noted that Law and Justice “has pledged to continue its controversial reform of the judiciary despite opposition from the European Commission, which says the independence of Poland's judges is being eroded.”
That issue has not dented Law and Justice's popularity, the BBC reported.
It said that instead the Polish party has reaped the rewards of its generous welfare policies, which have benefited millions of families.
The BBC also noted that, for the first time in years, Poland’s ruling conservatives have proposed a balanced budget for the country.
The BBC also said that Law and Justice “has a reputation of a party that delivers on its promises.”
Fears of drift into illiberalism: FT
Meanwhile, the Financial Times reported that Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party was on course for victory in a parliamentary election that politicians on both sides of the country’s bitter partisan divide have billed as the most important in 30 years.
The newspaper reported that Law and Justice leader Jarosław Kaczyński on Sunday evening hailed his party’s victory as a vindication of what the daily called the radical changes PiS has pushed through during its four years in power.
According to the Financial Times, the result of the elections "caps a turbulent period in Polish politics."
The paper said that since coming to power in 2015, Law and Justice “has subordinated judges to politicians and reduced state media to a pro-government cheerleader, prompting fears at home and in Brussels that Poland, once held up an emblem of the EU’s 2004 eastern expansion, is increasingly drifting into illiberalism.”
However, the paper said, the party “has also won over many Poles with generous welfare programmes that have improved the lives of poorer citizens who feel they were left behind during a rapid, but sometimes chaotic, 30-year transition from a failing communist, planned economy to a fast-growing free-market democracy.”
The Financial Times reported that, as well as touting its welfare spending, another hallmark of Law and Justice’s election campaign was its "relentless attacks on LGBT rights, which it portrayed as a foreign 'ideology' and a threat to traditional families."
The final results of Sunday’s vote were likely to show a deep division between Poland’s big cities, where the opposition tends to fare best, and the countryside, where Law and Justice holds sway, according to the Financial Times.
Left-wingers set to return to Polish parliament: Guardian
Britain’s The Guardian newspaper reported that Poland’s ruling right-wing Law and Justice party was set to win a majority in the country’s parliament and secure another four-year term.
Meanwhile, the opposition Civic Coalition, a liberal/centre-right grouping, failed to live up to expectations that it could remove Law and Justice from office by forging a governing coalition of opposition groups, The Guardian said on its website.
The paper reported that there was elation at the party’s headquarters as the exit poll was projected on a big screen on Sunday, with supporters chanting the name of Kaczyński, the party’s founder and leader, who The Guardian said “has in effect run Poland from his party office” since Law and Justice took power four years ago.
The British newspaper also reported that provisional results of the vote showed that left-wing parties were set to return to Polish parliamentary politics after a four-year absence, when a fragmented left failed to cross the parliamentary threshold.
First party to ‘break with austerity of previous gov’ts’: Fox News
US broadcaster Fox News reported that Law and Justice declared victory in Sunday's election, securing a comfortable majority in parliament to govern a deeply divided nation for another four years.
The broadcaster reported that more than 30 million voters were on Sunday eligible to go to the ballot box to choose lawmakers in the 460-seat lower house of parliament, the Sejm, and in the 100-seat Senate.
Fox News said on its website that Law and Justice is the first party since the fall of communism to “break with the austerity of previous Polish governments.”
It added that critics fear that four more years for the party could “reverse the democratic achievements of this Central European nation, citing an erosion of judicial independence and of minority rights since the party took power in 2015.”
Vote outcome a blow to largest opposition group: Politico
According to the Politico news service, Law and Justice party easily won Sunday's vote, garnering far more votes than the main opposition party, and was set to secure an absolute parliamentary majority.
The website said that Law and Justice was on track to have a similar hold on power that it has enjoyed over the previous four years.
With that majority, politico.eu said, PiS was able to take control of the country in 2015, pushing through deep reforms of the court system “that occasionally violated the constitution and set off an ongoing fight with the European Commission.”
The Polish ruling party has “also turned state television and radio into propaganda arms of the ruling party, replaced most of the top jobs in state-controlled companies, and was able to rush legislation through parliament with very little effective resistance from the opposition,” according to the Politico report, penned by Jan Cienski and Zosia Wanat.
Politico also reported that the results of the election were a blow to the leading opposition group, the Civic Coalition. Its leading party, the Civic Platform, founded by European Council President Donald Tusk, ruled Poland from 2007 to 2015, the website noted.
The website said the opposition vowed that the political battle would continue despite being disappointed by the outcome.
It quoted Civic Platform leader Grzegorz Schetyna as saying: “There are elections ahead of us, the presidential vote [in 2020], and we will win, that’s our promise.”
Voters dismiss concerns about 'the autocratic drift': NYT
The New York Times reported that the Polish ruling party appeared to have been swept back into power “as voters dismissed concerns about the autocratic drift of the government and rewarded the party for its generous social welfare programs.”
The paper said that Law and Justice secured its mandate “by promoting a brand of aggrieved nationalism that resonated in the country’s rural heartland and the towns in the east of the country that have not kept pace with wealthier cities in the west.”
The paper reported that Jarosław Kaczyński, the party’s leader and the chief architect of its policies, vowed to continue reshaping the nation in fundamental ways after the polls closed on Sunday evening.
The New York Times reported that the Polish ruling party has overhauled the courts in ways that critics say undermines the rule of law, but it added that “for most people, life does not feel less free today than it did four years ago.”
The paper added that the fight over the courts “has not affected average citizens.”
It also observed that “Poland is not yet Hungary, much less Turkey or any other autocratic nation.”
The paper added that civil society in Poland “remains vibrant, and there are still many critical voices in the news media.”
The New York Times said the Polish governing party had “vastly expanded the welfare state and engaged in the most ambitious plan to redistribute wealth in a generation.”
It said these policies have won the “loyalty of residents in vast swaths of the country who felt neglected or betrayed as the country transitioned to capitalism.”