- Sunday’s election is seen as the most important in Poland in decades
- Opposition forces outnumber ruling party – Exit poll
- PiS loses majority on path to becoming single largest party
- PiS power loss will change relations with the EU
- Market soars on prospect of new government
WARSAW, Oct 16 (Reuters) – Poland’s ruling nationalists appeared to have lost their parliamentary majority on Monday in the most important election in decades, pushing the opposition to power in a major political shift. There may be a way to take control.
Poland has repeatedly clashed with the European Union over the rule of law, press freedom, immigration and LGBT rights since Law and Justice (PiS) came to power in 2015, but the opposition has threatened to undermine relations with Brussels. He has vowed to repair it and reverse reforms advocated by critics. It undermines democratic standards.
An Ipsos exit poll released early on Monday gave PiS 36.6% of the vote, which translates to 198 MPs voting in the 460-member lower house.
The opposition party, led by the liberal group Citizens United (KO), led by former European Council President Donald Tusk, is expected to win a total of 248 seats, with KO’s faction believed to have received 31.0% of the total vote. .
An opposition victory in what analysts say is Europe’s most important election in years could redefine Brussels’ relationship with Central and Eastern Europe’s largest EU member state.
Poland’s financial markets soared on the prospect of a new government led by pro-EU liberals. The blue-chip WIG20 (.WIG20) stock index was up 3.5% as of 0849 GMT, while the zloty currency was up about 1%.
“Expelling the nationalists will help repair damaged relations with the EU,” said Lee Hardman, senior currency analyst at Bank of Mitsubishi UFJ.
“The zloty will continue to appreciate further in the short term in anticipation of improved relations with the EU, which will support growth and attract capital inflows.”
Tusk said he would aim to unblock about 110 billion euros in EU funds destined for Poland, which have been frozen over rule of law concerns.
Long-term coalition talks
Even if official results confirm the exit polls, Mr. Tusk and his centre-right Third Way and New Left allies will have to wait weeks or even months before getting their turn to form a government. Maybe.
President Andrzej Duda, a PiS ally, said he would give the winner the first chance. However, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and other senior PiS politicians will have a difficult time forming a new government, with the far-right League expected to win by just 6.4%, lower than expected.
The leader of the centre-right Polish Peasants’ Party (PSL), which belongs to the Third Way, on Monday ruled out joining a PiS-led coalition government.
“The people who voted for us wanted change and wanted PiS removed from power,” Wladysław Kosinak-Kamisz told commercial radio RMF FM.
Poland’s electoral commission announced a 72% turnout on Sunday based on partial results, the highest since the fall of communism in 1989, underscoring the high stakes of this election.
Television footage showed hundreds of people, mostly young people, lining up outside a polling station in the western city of Wrocław. Voting ended just before 3am (0100 GMT), about six hours after it was officially scheduled to end.
In an aggressive election campaign that sought to portray Mr Tusk as a German pawn, PiS cast the election as either unchecked illegal immigration under the rule of a leader reliant on foreign interests or Poland’s borders and security. , the government was faced with the choice of preserving tradition.
But after the government implemented a near-total abortion ban in 2021, PiS faces growing dissatisfaction with what critics say is a backsliding of democracy and violations of women’s rights. was.
PiS was also accused of using advantageous positions in state-owned enterprises to reward supporters and stoking inflation with easy fiscal policies.
“Women will have more rights and feel safer,” said bank manager Iga Frakiewicz, 43.
“I would also like to see an end to nepotism, for example in state-owned enterprises and elsewhere.”
Reporting by Warsaw and Gdańsk Newsrooms and Lydia Kelly in Melbourne; Writing: Alan Charish; Editing: Shri Navaratnam and Gareth Jones
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