Exit polls suggest win for Poland's ruling Law and Justice party

Clay Curtis
October 14, 2019

Poland's conservative ruling Law and Justice party has capitalized on its popular social spending policies to do even better at the ballot box than when it swept to power four years ago, according to almost complete results reported Monday.

Poland's governing right-wing party topped Sunday's general election, an exit poll showed, expanding its majority thanks to a raft of welfare measures coupled with attacks on LGBT rights and Western values. "Poland must change more and it must change for the better", said PiS leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski, whose party controlled 231 seats in the 460-seat lower house of parliament up to now.

The exit poll showed four other parties clearing the hurdle to enter parliament, with the centrist Civic Coalition on 27.4 per cent, the left-wing Lewica alliance on 11.9 per cent, the PSL-Kukiz'15 alliance of agrarians and populists on 9.6 per cent and the far-right Confederation with 6.4 per cent.

This year's voter turnout, according to the exit poll, amounted to 61.1 percent.

One of their common positions is a pro-EU stance and a pledge to undo controversial broad institutional reforms introduced by PiS over the last four years, including to the judiciary, which put the country at loggerheads with the European Commission.

It has been accused of weakening the rule of law in the young democracy with an overhaul of the judicial system that has given the party more power over the courts, and has drawn criticism as well for using state media as a propaganda outlet and hostile rhetoric toward the LGBT community.

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The opposition received an unexpected last-minute boon when author Olga Tokarczuk, a known government critic who won the Nobel Prize for Literature on Thursday, urged Poles to choose wisely "between democracy and authoritarianism" in the ballot, calling it the "most important" since Poland shed communism in 1989.

Civic Coalition leaders speak to supporters in Warsaw.

Kaczynski has tapped into a populist backlash against liberal elites, similar to trends in Western Europe and the US. "However, the cut through seems to have been on national economic growth", Zerka said.

But within Poland, PiS appears to have grown in popularity.

However, many Poles were left out in that transformation and inequalities grew, creating grievances that Law and Justice has addressed skillfully. The final results, which are expected by Tuesday, could shift, as they have in past elections.

The exit poll had a margin of error of plus or minus two percentage points.

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