The Law and Justice Party received 36.8 percent of the votes, according to the first polls conducted by the research agency Ipsos. It is followed by the largest opposition party, the Civic Coalition (KO), led by Donald Tusk, with 31.6% of the vote. Actual result may differ from this. Only on Monday will a clearer picture of the election results emerge.
As a result of such an outcome, PiS would not obtain a majority in the Polish Sejm. You will get 200 seats out of 460 – 31 is too few. Two smaller opposition parties, the centre-right Trzsia Druga (Third Way) and the left-wing Nowa Lewka party, come in third and fourth place according to Ipsos, with 13 per cent and 8.6 per cent of the vote respectively. Together with the Labor Party, they can get 248 seats, enough to form a government. They had already said before the election that they wanted to work together. The far-right Confederaga party receives 6.2% in opinion polls, which is enough to gain 12 seats.
Tusk said in a response after the poll that he had “never been as happy” in his life “as today with his second place.” He predicted the end of the Law and Justice Party in the government, noting that “democracy has triumphed.”
Current Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki also expressed his satisfaction with his party’s victory in the elections. He said he wanted to build a majority in Shem, but did not specify how. PiS leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski admitted that the path to power for his party was uncertain, but “it is not over yet.”
About thirty million Poles were allowed to vote in parliament on Sunday. In addition to the House of Representatives, this chamber also consists of the Senate (100 seats). Poles turned out to vote in large numbers, and turnout during the day was higher than it was four years ago. There are still queues in front of polling stations in major cities just before they close. According to opinion polls, the participation rate reached 73%, a record high. In the first partially free elections in 1989, 62.7% of voters voted.
In Poland, these elections are considered the most important since the fall of communism. The country is at a crossroads. It could continue on the path taken by the Eurosceptic Law and Justice Party eight years ago, which put the rule of law, a free press, and the rights of women and minorities under pressure. Or Poland may take a different path under a government composed of liberal and pro-European opposition parties.
About the author
Arnot Le Clercq is the Central and Eastern Europe correspondent for De Volkskrant. Lives in Warsaw.
After the final results, Polish President Andrzej Duda, allied with the Law and Justice Party, will appoint a prime minister to form the government. It is clear that he will choose someone from the largest party, which will leave the initiative to the Law and Justice Party. If you cannot form a government, it will be the opposition’s turn. The coming period is likely to be dominated by difficult coalition formations.
According to Polish law, all votes must be counted within 24 hours. This raises concerns abroad, where more than 600,000 voters have registered to vote in recent weeks. They fear that their votes – which arrive later – will not be counted. Long queues lined up on Sunday outside polling stations abroad, including in The Hague and Amsterdam.
In addition to parliament, Poles also voted in a controversial referendum. According to government critics, this referendum, which included tendentious questions about immigration, among other issues, primarily led to an increase in turnout among PiS supporters. According to opinion polls, the participation rate was 40%, which is less than 10% to make the referendum legitimate.
The elections were characterized by intense polarization, as the campaign was unprecedentedly harsh and even negative at times. The first results of the voter opinion poll after they left the polls also indicate a sharp division in the country.
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