Poland’s eurosceptic opposition is on course to triumph in the country’s general election after exit polls gave it a resounding victory over the incumbent centre-right government.
Figures released after polls closed late Sunday night put Law and Justice on 39 per cent while Civic Platform, the party of Ewa Kopacz, the Polish prime minister, scored 23 per cent.
If the result stands it will give Law and Justice a precious, but slim, majority of two in Poland’s 460-seat lower house of parliament.
The other winner on Sunday was Kukiz, an anti-establishment party led by Pawel Kukiz, a former punk rocker, which the polls put in third with 9 per cent of the vote.
Beata Szydlo, a 52-year-old ethnographer, will become the new Polish prime minister and lead a government that will set aside the pro-EU policies of its predecessor. Law and Justice opposes closer EU ties, wants reform in Brussels and has little desire for Poland to join the euro.
The victory on Sunday looks set to be a watershed moment in Polish politics.
Civic Platform has dominated the Polish political scene for the best part of a decade, defeating its opponents in two general elections and presiding over a period in the country’s history that some have christened a “golden age”.
Conceding defeat Mrs Kopacz said Poland was a “more beautiful country” than it had been eight years ago, and thanked “those who put their trust in us twice”.
Law and Justice profited from dissatisfaction with Civic Platform’s rule. The government has faced accusations of failing to address voter concerns and ignoring those feeling passed over by Poland’s economic success.
It also won votes by pledging to support the disadvantaged “Poland B” by cutting the age of retirement and increasing family welfare benefits while at the same time imposing taxes on banks and foreign-owned supermarkets.
The mix of dissatisfaction and populist appeal has helped Law and Justice spread its appeal from its small town and staunchly Catholic heartland into cities and into the hearts and minds of younger voters.
Reacting to the result Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the Law and Justice president and a former prime minister, paid tribute to his twin brother Lech, who died as president of Poland in the 2010 Smolensk air disaster. Lech was a co-founder of the party and his brother said “without him we wouldn’t be here today”.
To many Mr Kaczynski is still seen as the driving force behind Law and Justice, and questions have been asked over what influence he will have over Mrs Szydlo and the new government.
Source: The Telegraph