In the recent Polish elections, the ruling Law & Justice (PiS) party is projected to lose power to the centrist, pro-EU political opposition. The exit poll conducted by Ipsos indicates that while PiS is in the lead, they do not have enough support to retain control of the government.
Following the release of the exit poll results, opposition leader Donald Tusk, who is the former European Council president and now heads the Civic Coalition party, expressed his satisfaction with the outcome. He hailed the vote as the end of the “bad times” and the end of Law & Justice rule. Tusk’s party joined forces with the Third Way alliance and the Left party to form a winning faction.
According to the exit poll, PiS secured 37% of the vote, giving them the first opportunity to form a governing coalition. However, the Civic Coalition, with 32% of the vote, the Third Way with 13%, and the Left with 8.6%, together have enough support to block PiS’ efforts. This leaves PiS with only the right-wing Confederation party, which received just 6.2% of the vote, as a potential ally.
Tusk expressed his happiness about seemingly coming in second place and emphasized that Poland and democracy have emerged as the true winners. Victory for the opposition would bring Poland back into the EU’s fold. During PiS’ eight-year reign, the party’s challenges to the supremacy of EU law over Poland’s own laws resulted in the EU withholding over €35 billion ($37 billion) in aid.
Jarosław Kaczyński, the leader of PiS, also acknowledged the party’s electoral success but recognized that it may not be enough to ensure another term in office. He urged his supporters to remain hopeful, regardless of whether they are in power or in the opposition, emphasizing their commitment to implementing their project.
Preliminary results suggest that the opposition will control the lower house of parliament, known as the Sejm, with 248 of the 460 seats, compared to PiS’ 200 seats. Final vote numbers are expected to be available by Tuesday.
PiS ran their campaign on a platform of tougher migration policy, increased social spending, military strength, and support for Ukraine against Russia. However, their stance of not allowing cheap Ukrainian grain to harm Polish farmers’ livelihoods was a point of contention. On the other hand, the three opposition parties focused on improving relations with the EU by reversing PiS’ judicial reforms and liberalizing abortion and LGBT policies.
The media has presented this election as the most significant in Poland’s post-communist history, which is reflected in the high voter turnout. Even a record 600,000 Poles living abroad cast their votes, surpassing the percentage of voters in the country’s first democratic elections in 1989.
The final results will determine the future of Poland’s political landscape, as the opposition prepares to govern and potentially steer the country back towards closer alignment with EU policies.