22nd Feb 2020

Poles choose to oust Kaczynski party from power

The governing conservative party of Jaroslaw Kaczynski suffered a strong defeat at the hands of the centre-right opposition in Sunday's elections.

The opposition leader and would-be prime minister Donald Tusk has promised to restore the country's relations with major EU states and improve finances as part of a strategy for the early adoption of the bloc's single currency.

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"I'm the happiest man on earth - not only as we've managed to win but also because I've met my smiling fellow-citizens who believed that tomorrow would be better," Mr Tusk told his supporters on Sunday night (21 October), according to Polish public TV.

He was reacting to early poll results suggesting his pro-business and pro-European Civic platform party (PO) had received the biggest share of the vote. It gained around 42 percent beating its main competitor, the ruling Law and Justice party (PiS), which received around 32 percent of the votes.

The two other parties that made it into the parliament are the Left and Democrats of ex-president Alexander Kwasniewski - third place (13%) - and the Polish Peasants' party (9%), expected to join the ruling coalition.

As predicted, the Self-defence party and the League of Polish families - the former coalition partners of the outgoing prime minister Kaczynski until a clash in late August - did not pass the five percent parliamentary threshold.

"We will be a tough opposition," said Mr Kaczynski in reaction to the results, stressing that his party had received more votes than in the 2005 poll.

There was an unexpectedly high turn-out (53.2%) on Sunday but it was not enough for Mr Kaczynski's conservative PiS party to win.

The voting concluded almost three hours later than originally scheduled due to a shortage of ballots in one polling station in Warsaw, with official results set to be announced only on Tuesday.

Victory after two defeats

For Mr Tusk, 50, Sunday's election means success at the third attempt, as he lost to Jaroslaw Kaczynski and his twin brother Lech, Poland's president, in both parliamentary and presidential elections in 2005.

After that double defeat, many political analysts wrote off his future chances of making a political comeback.

Mr Tusk is of Kashubian origin, a 300,000-strong minority in the north-west part of the country, with some of his political opponents accusing him of being too pro-German.

For his part, Mr Tusk has said he wants to restore relations with Germany after several bitter clashes by the Kaczynski government with Berlin, mainly over historic issues and contacts with Russia.

His PO party is also aiming to slash red tape and introduce a flat rate tax to make the country more business-friendly as well as conclude the privatisation process in the remaining state sectors.

"It is a good day for the Polish economy," the PO's chief economic spokesman Zbigniew Chlebowski was quoted as saying by Thomson Financial News at the party's victory celebration.

"I believe that adopting the euro in 2012-2013 is realistic," he added, in contrast to the out-going government which refrained from setting a euro entry date and was seen as favouring a later rather than earlier adoption of the single currency.

The victorious Civic Platform party also plans to pull Polish troops from Iraq early in 2008, a top party official said, according to Reuters.

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