Polish opposition leader Donald Tusk is declaring the beginning of a new era after three opposition parties appeared to have won enough votes in Sunday’s election to oust the governing party.
An Ipsos exit poll suggested that the opposition together as a coalition has likely won 248 seats in the 460-seat lower house of parliament, the Sejm, while Law and Justice gained 200 seats.
Three opposition parties, Civic Coalition, Third Way and the New Left, ran on separate tickets but with the same promises of seeking to oust Law and Justice and restore good ties with the European Union.
Tusk, a former prime minister and European Council president, told his supporters on Sunday night: “I have been a politician for many years. I’m an athlete. Never in my life have I been so happy about taking seemingly second place. Poland won. Democracy has won. We have removed them from power.
“This result might still be better, but already today we can say this is the end of the bad time, this is end of Law and Justice rule.”
Law and Justice leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski told supporters that his party’s result, at nearly 37% of the vote according to the exit poll, was a success, making it the party to win the most votes for three parliamentary elections in a row.
Votes are still being counted and the state electoral commission says it expects to have final results by Tuesday morning.
Law and Justice has a devoted base of supporters in the Central European nation of 38 million who appreciate its defence of Catholic traditions and its social spending on pensioners and families with children.
But support for the party has shrunk since the last election in 2019 – when it won nearly 44% of the vote – amid high inflation, allegations of cronyism and bickering with European allies.
Many Poles feel it is the most important election since 1989 when a new democracy was born after decades of communism.
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