Poland elections results: Donald Tusk's Civic Coalition could form government, exit poll shows, as results could shift Ukraine support
The majority of voters in Poland’s general election have supported opposition parties that promised to repair the nation’s constitutional order and its relationship with allies, including the European Union and Ukraine, according to projections.
After a bitter and emotional campaign, voters turned out in droves on Sunday to make their voices known.
Turnout was projected at almost 73 per cent, the highest level in the country’s 34 years of democracy and surpassing the 63 per cent who turned out in the historic 1989 vote that toppled communism.
In the city of Wroclaw, the queues were so long that voting continued through the night until nearly 3am local time.
A so-called late exit poll by Ipsos suggested voters had grown tired of the governing nationalist Law and Justice party after eight years of divisive policies that led to frequent street protests, bitter divisions within families and billions of euros in funding held up by the EU over rule of law violations.
Poland’s currency, the zloty, reacted by strengthening against the dollar and the euro on Monday.
The outcome could also affect ties with neighbouring Ukraine, which Poland has been supporting in the war against Russia’s aggression.
The good relations soured in September over Ukraine grain entering and affecting Poland’s market.
The Ipsos poll showed three centrist opposition parties that campaigned on a promise to reverse the illiberal drift of the government had together secured around 248 seats in the 460-seat lower house of parliament, or Sejm, a clear majority. However, Poles still face weeks of political uncertainty.
Law and Justice won more votes than any single party and said it would try to build a new government led by Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki.
Law and Justice campaign manager Joachim Brudzinski told RMF FM radio: “No matter how you look at it, we won.”
President Andrzej Duda, an ally of Law and Justice, must call the first session of the new parliament within 30 days of the election and designate a prime minister to try to build a government. In the meantime, the current government will remain in a caretaker role.
The tradition in the democratic era has been for the president to first approach someone from the party with the most votes, but he is not required to do so.
It is not clear how Law and Justice could realistically hold onto power, unless it manages to win over some legislators from opposition parties, something it did in the past to maintain the thin parliamentary majority it held for eight years. But that seems unlikely given the large number that would need to change allegiances.
The leader of the agrarian PSL party, a frequent kingmaker in past governments, ruled out co-operating with Law and Justice after running with the Third Way coalition.
“Those who voted for us want change, want a change of government, want PiS (another name for Law and Justice) removed from power,” Wladyslaw Kosiniak-Kamysz said on RMF FM.
The Ipsos poll showed Law and Justice with 36.6 per cent of the votes cast; the opposition Civic Coalition, led by former European Council president Donald Tusk, with 31 per cent; the centrist Third Way coalition with 13.5 per cent; the Left party with 8.6 per cent; and the far-right Confederation with 6.4 per cent.
The electoral commission said it expects to report the final result by early on Tuesday.
On Sunday evening, Mr Tusk declared that it was the end of Law and Justice’s rule and that a new era had begun for Poland.
Cezary Tomczyk, the vice chairman of Mr Tusk’s party, said the governing party would do everything to try to maintain power.
He called on it to accept the election result, saying it was the will of the people to now give power to the opposition.
“The nation spoke,” Mr Tomczyk said.
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