A defaced poster for a PiS candidate flies in the air in Warsaw. Poland’s election campaign has been toxic, with polls showing a tight result.
Poland is poised for a power grab after a poll predicted the populist ruling party would lose its majority in parliament. A bitter and high-profile national election.
The Law and Justice Party, known by its Polish acronym PiS, was predicted to win more seats after Sunday’s vote.
But it fell just short of a parliamentary majority, and the opposition, led by former Polish prime minister and European Council president Donald Tusk, appeared to have a path to power if it struck deals with smaller parties.
Both Tusk and Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the PiS leader and de facto leader of Poland, tried to declare victory on Sunday night. However, in reality, the days of negotiations may come until the formation of the country’s new government is clear.
“The exit poll results give us the fourth victory in the history of our party in the parliamentary elections and the third victory in a row; “This is a great victory for our creation and our plan for Poland,” Kaczynski told supporters.
In a fighting statement, Tusk said: “It’s the end of bad times, it’s the end of PiS’s rule.” He said his group’s supporters had “won freedom and we have won back our Poland”.
A small coalition called the Third Way can become kingmakers. The centrist coalition has criticized both major parties, arguing that neither represents Poland’s best path. But its leader Szymon Hołownia has long criticized PiS’s performance and insisted he would not pursue an alliance with the incumbent party.
The outcome of this election will determine the future direction of Poland, the balance of power in the European Union and The future of war in Ukraine.
PiS, mired in a bitter fight with the European Union during its eight-year rule, sought a third straight election victory, an unprecedented feat since Poland regained independence from the Soviet Union.
The party has accused the European Union and Polish opposition figures of undermining Poland’s democratic institutions during its time in power. PiS has brought the Polish judiciary, public media and cultural institutions under greater government control, and has taken a hardline stance against abortion access and LGBTQ+ rights.
During a bitter campaign, the party fired back at Dusk’s opposition coalition, with the former leader saying he would capitulate to Brussels and Berlin if he returned to power.
High inflation and the security of Poland’s borders were front and center for voters during the campaign. After a tense period that saw relations between the two close allies deteriorate, there were also developments in Kiev.
Poland has been a key ally of Ukraine as it battles Russian forces in its east, but Warsaw has sharply criticized Ukraine’s government during a dispute over imports of Ukrainian grain.
Voters elect members to both houses of Poland’s parliament, including 231 seats in Warsaw’s lower house, the Sejm – needed for a party to seize power entirely.