Open Editor’s Digest for free
FT editor Roula Khalaf picks her favorite stories in this weekly newsletter.
Donald Tusk has a viable path to power in Poland, according to two election polls, giving the former European Council president the lead over his right-wing rivals, the ruling Law and Justice party.
Law and Justice (PiS), led by Jarosław Kaczyński, appeared to be on the verge of losing office despite winning the most votes in Sunday’s election, as exit polls showed its coalition lacked a majority even with the far-right party. Partner.
If the tally holds, it would mark a stunning victory for Tusk in Poland’s most important election in a generation. The former prime minister claimed victory for the opposition, saying he had “never been happier” with finishing second. PiS was estimated to have won 36.6 percent of the vote, while Tusk’s Civic Platform received 31 percent.
Poland’s currency and stock market rose on Monday in reaction to a strong Tusk comeback. The Warsaw WIG index was up 3.5 percent in early morning trading, while the euro was up 1.9 percent, while the euro managed to trade 1 percent stronger at 4.49 zlotys.
During the campaign, Tusk promised to put Warsaw on a decidedly pro-European path, restore the independence of judges and unlock billions of euros in EU funding that had been withheld by the European Commission in a fight with the PiS government over judicial reforms.
The vote is seen as the most important election for the European Union this year, redefining the relationship between Brussels and the largest member state in central and eastern Europe after years of hostility.
“It’s the end of the bad times. It’s the end of the PiS regime,” Tusk cheered supporters on Sunday night. “We did it, really. Poland won, democracy won.
Along with two other parties, Civic Platform is on track to win 248 of the 460 seats in the Sejm, Poland’s lower house of parliament, according to the latest Ipsos exit poll released Monday morning, which confirmed the same share of seats as Tusk. Party as early poll on Sunday night.
At PiS headquarters, Kaczynski told supporters that his party still has a way to return to power. “We have fighting and various tensions ahead of us,” the ultra-conservative leader said. “Whether we’re in power or in opposition, we have to have confidence and know that we’re going to implement this plan in different ways.”
If the final results match the polls, PiS will struggle for a third term in government, as its potential coalition partner – the far-right Alliance – is expected to win just 6.4 percent of the vote, equivalent to 14 seats.
If the results confirm that BIS remains the largest party in parliament, President Andrzej Duda is expected to be given the first chance to form a government.
Final results of the hotly contested election are not expected until late Monday or early Tuesday, as the count has been complicated by a referendum on immigration that PiS included on the ballot to galvanize its conservative supporters.
The National Electoral Commission began releasing partial results on Monday morning, which showed PiS with 40.2 percent of the vote compared to Civic Platform’s 26.6 percent, with just 10 percent of votes counted. But even if this preliminary lead exceeds exit polls, it will not be enough for PiS to secure a majority with coalition support.
The election will also ease recent tensions between Warsaw and Kiev, fueled in large part by PiS’s re-election bid. PiS clashed with the coalition, which said the government had been too generous to Ukrainian refugees, and earlier this year tried to appease its peasant voters by imposing a unilateral ban on Ukrainian grain imports.
According to preliminary data from Ipsos, voter turnout in Poland’s parliamentary elections is on track to set a record since its return to democracy. That’s nearly 73 percent, 11 percentage points higher than the previous election in 2019.
Analysts warned that Poland’s fragmented and toxic politics made exit polls less reliable than previous elections.
Exit polls after similar elections in Slovakia two weeks ago predicted the liberal opposition leader would come out on top, but the final results put populist Robert Figo and his Smer party ahead. “We may still have a Slovak situation here,” said Marcin Duma, head of pollster Ibris, ahead of Sunday’s vote.
Government officials have also warned that pollsters may not accurately record support for their party.
“We believe we have a silent majority,” Deputy Agriculture Minister Janusz Kowalski said before Sunday’s vote. “I know a lot of voters who don’t want to openly say they’re voting for law and justice.”
However, only 40 percent of voters participated in the referendum, which according to preliminary data, was not enough to make it binding.
Tusk had called for a boycott of the referendum, which asked voters questions about strengthened border security, curbing illegal immigration, keeping the existing retirement age and preventing the sale of state-owned companies to foreign investors.
“Friend of animals everywhere. Devoted analyst. Total alcohol scholar. Infuriatingly humble food trailblazer.”