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Polish PiS ahead but seen losing majority in election – exit poll

2023-10-15T19:32:49Z

Poles voted in a high-stakes parliamentary election on Sunday (October 15) which the nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) hopes will earn it an unprecedented third term in office, while the opposition warns it could put the country on a path towards leaving the European Union.

Poland’s ruling nationalists were ahead in parliamentary elections on Sunday but without a majority, an exit poll showed, raising the possibility that the liberal opposition could seek to form a governing coalition.

The Ipsos exit poll gave the governing Law and Justice (PiS) party 36.8% of the vote, which would translate into 200 lawmakers in the 460-seat parliament.

The largest opposition grouping, the liberal Civic Coalition (KO), was projected to win 31.6% of the vote, which would give it 163 seats. Together with the centre-right Third Way coalition and the New Left, who could enter a coalition with KO, it would command 248 seats.

Official results will start coming in later on Sunday.

KO leader Donald Tusk, a former European Council president, has vowed to mend Warsaw’s relations with Brussels, which have been strained by numerous clashes over issues such as judicial independence, LGBT rights and migration.

“Democracy has won … This is the end of the PiS government,” a jubilant Tusk told party members on Sunday evening.

Critics say that since coming to power in 2015, PiS has increased political influence over the courts and turned state media into propaganda outlets. Some 110 billion euros of EU funds earmarked for Poland have been frozen due to rule-of-law concerns.

PiS leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski told officials gathered at the party’s headquarters in central Warsaw that it was not clear whether Sunday’s showing would translate into a new term in office. “We have to have hope,” Kaczynski said.

With war raging in neighbouring Ukraine and a migrant crisis brewing, the EU and Washington are watching the vote closely, although both PiS and its mainstream opposition support NATO-member Poland’s key role in providing military and logistical support to Kyiv.

PiS had cast the election as a choice between security from unfettered migration, which it says its opponents support, and a creeping westernisation it sees as contrary to Poland’s Catholic character.

PiS, which denies any wrongdoing, says its reforms aim to make the country and its economy more fair while removing the last vestiges of communism. It has built its support on generous social handouts, which it says rival parties will stop.

Related Galleries:

Mateusz Morawiecki, Polish Prime Minister applauds as the leader of Poland’s ruling conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party Jaroslaw Kaczynski, delivers a speech after the exit poll results are announced in Warsaw, Poland, October 15, 2023. REUTERS/Aleksandra Szmigiel

People queue outside a polling station during Poland’s parliamentary election in Warsaw, Poland, October 15, 2023. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel

Cezary, 4-year-old, and Kajetan, 6-year-old, help cast a ballot at a polling station during Poland’s parliamentary election in Warsaw, Poland, October 15, 2023. REUTERS/Aleksandra Szmigiel

A woman votes at a polling station during Poland’s parliamentary election in Warsaw, Poland, October 15, 2023. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki casts his ballot in the parliamentary elections in Warsaw, Poland, October 15, 2023. Slawomir Kaminski/Agencja Wyborcza.pl via REUTERS

Poland’s President Andrzej Duda and first lady Agata Kornhauser-Duda cast ballots during the parliamentary election in Krakow, Poland, October 15, 2023. Jakub Porzycki/Agencja Wyborcza.pl via REUTERS

Donald Tusk, leader of the largest opposition grouping Civic Coalition (KO), casts his ballot during Poland’s parliamentary election at a polling station in Warsaw, Poland, October 15, 2023. REUTERS/Aleksandra Szmigiel

Wlodzimierz Czarzasty, co-leader of the New Left (Nowa Lewica) party, casts his ballot during the parliamentary election in Sosnowiec, Poland, October 15, 2023. Grzegorz Celejewski/Agencja Wyborcza.pl via REUTERS

A nun casts a ballot at a polling station during Poland’s parliamentary election in Warsaw, Poland, October 15, 2023. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel

People vote at a polling station during Poland’s parliamentary election in Warsaw, Poland, October 15, 2023. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel

People vote at a polling station during Poland’s parliamentary election in Warsaw, Poland, October 15, 2023. REUTERS/Aleksandra Szmigiel

Robert Biedron, Wlodzimierz Czarzasty, Anna Maria Zukowska, Joanna Scheuring-Wielgus, Adrian Zandberg and Magdalena Biejat of the New Left (Nowa Lewica) alliance gesture during the final day of campaigning for the parliamentary elections in Warsaw, Poland, October 13, 2023. Slawomir Kaminski/Agencja Wyborcza.pl via REUTERS

Robert Biedron, Wlodzimierz Czarzasty, Anna Maria Zukowska, Joanna Scheuring-Wielgus, Adrian Zandberg and Magdalena Biejat of the New Left (Nowa Lewica) alliance gesture during the final day of campaigning for the parliamentary elections in Warsaw, Poland, October 13, 2023. Slawomir Kaminski/Agencja Wyborcza.pl via REUTERS
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