Poland’s conservative party wins general election

Polish Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz, right, watches as her grandson Julian casts his family's ballot, helped by parents Katarzyna and Andrzej. Picture: AP

Polish Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz, right, watches as her grandson Julian casts his family's ballot, helped by parents Katarzyna and Andrzej. Picture: AP

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Poland’s conservative opposition Law and Justice party won yesterday’s general elections.

Exit polls suggest it has enough seats to govern alone, with an anticipated 39 per cent of the vote.

Its eurosceptic leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski has claimed victory, and the outgoing Prime Minister, Ewa Kopacz of the centrist Civic Platform party, has admitted defeat.

Law and Justice has strong support in Poland’s rural areas.

If the numbers suggested by the exit poll are confirmed, it will be the first time since democracy was restored in Poland in 1989 that a single party has won enough seats to govern alone. Europe’s refugee crisis also proved to be a key topic of debate before the election. While the government has agreed to take in 7,000 migrants, opposition parties have spoken out against the move.

The 66-year-old is not running as prime minister, and has instead nominated Beata Szydlo, a relative unknown, as the party’s choice for the post.

However, some observers said Mr Kaczynski could take on the top job himself if Law and Justice scored a convincing victory.

Civic Platform has recently been hit by disrepute, with a number of ministers caught up in an eavesdropping scandal last year.

On Friday, Deputy Justice Minister Monika Zbrojewska was fired after being charged with drink-driving.

In Warsaw, many voters declared support for new, small left- and right-wing parties, while voicing concern for preserving the country’s economic and political stability.

Retired physicist Adam Jadacki said he and his wife Janina voted for a new pro-business party called Nowoczesna (Modern) “because it is the only sensible and rational party, free of emotions and of political infighting.”

Nowoczesna was founded by Ryszard Petru, an economist who favours a flat tax of 16 percent and sound state finances.

Lawyer Katarzyna Bielska, 32, said she supports United Left, a coalition of left-wing parties, in order to end Civic Platform’s eight-year rule while not backing the conservative Law and Justice party.

Interpreter Slawomir Krantz, 49, voted for Civic Platform, which he described as a “lesser evil,” because he fears other parties might spoil the stability Poland has achieved.

Skrodzki, the Civic Platform backer, also said he feared that Poland would become a “religious state” under Law and Justice, which strongly supports Roman Catholic values and the church.

He said he fears it will try to ban in vitro fertilisation and create a total ban on abortion.

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