Polish conservatives on the brink of losing power


Central Europe


A child casts a parent's vote in the polling station at the Palace of Culture in Warsaw. Photo AFP, Wojtek Radwanski

Poland’s opposition is well placed to take power. That seems to have implications for the abortion legislation in the country.

After months of bitter campaigning and just one televised debate, the ruling PiS party of Jarosław Kaczyński seems to struggle with staying in power. Although the party has won the most votes, it does not seem to have won a majority. Kaczyński’s rivals seem to have.

The exit poll was published on Sunday night. In it, Kaczyński stood at 36.8 per cent of the vote. Donald Tusk of the Civic Platform could count on 31.6 per cent. That means his party would secure a majority with two other moderate opposition parties. Together, they would end up with 53.2 per cent of the vote. The official results are expected to be published on Tuesday.

According to Politico, the “stunning” defeat of the ruling party PiS comes after It “mobilized the full resources of the state to help it win.” However, the political news website argues, “PiS was hobbled by a growing number of scandals — including allegations that officials were selling visas for bribes.”

PiS leader Jarosław Kazcyński called the result a victory for his party but admitted: “The question before us is whether this success can be turned into another term of office for our government. (…) We must hope and know that whether we are in power or in opposition, we will carry out this project and not allow Poland to be betrayed.”


Donald Tusk was, not surprisingly, jubilant about the result. “I am the happiest man on earth,” Tusk said after the exit poll was announced. “Democracy has won. Poland has won. I have never been so happy to come second.” The opposition promised to rebuild relations with the EU.

Poland's main opposition leader, former premier and head of the centrist Civic Coalition bloc, Donald Tusk. Photo AFP, Janek Skarzynski

According to Reuters, Sunday’s election was centred around women's rights. PiS says it aims to boost fertility rates and support families while pushing back against liberal values that clash with Poland’s Catholic heritage. However, the Civic Platform of Donald Tusk says it will seek legislation to allow for abortion up to 12 weeks without limitations if it wins, “in a major turnaround for the party which has shied away from picking a stance on the issue for years”. Fertility rates in Poland fell to the lowest since World War Two this year.


However, it may be some time before there is a new government, writes Notes from Poland. “The close of voting today marked the end of a heated, often bitter campaign. But it may also mark the start of weeks, and perhaps months, of uncertainty and horsetrading over the formation of a new government.”

President Duda will likely ask PiS to form a coalition, but that seems difficult. If other attempts also fail, the president will have to call new elections within 45 days. To what extent that is a realistic scenario largely depends on Tuesday’s final results.



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