to updatePolling stations opened this morning in Poland for parliamentary elections. More than 29 million eligible voters were invited to vote on the distribution of the 460 seats in the House of Representatives and 100 seats in the Senate. The first forecasts are expected to appear after the polls close at nine in the evening. Many Poles feel this is the most important election since 1989, the year that marked the end of decades of communism.
Today Poles can explain how they want their country’s democracy to develop, what the legal position should be on abortion and gay rights, and how to move forward in foreign policy. The latter is not unimportant, since Poland is seen as one of Ukraine’s closest allies.
The election campaign was very fierce. The conservative Law and Justice Party appears to have become the largest party for the third time, but it will be difficult to achieve an absolute majority this time. The Civic Liberal Coalition (KO) of former Prime Minister and former President of the European Council (EC) Donald Tusk is the populist party’s main rival.
Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki may become dependent on the far-right Confederaga party to form the government. The Civic Coalition (KO) could then consider forming a coalition with the left-wing Luika coalition and the conservative Christian Third Way party. The condition here is that the third way, as a merger between two parties, succeed in overcoming the 8% hurdle that applies to such electoral alliances in Poland.
The campaign was characterized by fierce personal attacks between the two camps, which seemed to be far apart. Tusk accuses Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, among other things, of undermining the rule of law, which Warsaw regularly disagrees with the EU. On the contrary, Morawiecki and his party claim that Tusk is a puppet of the European Union and Germany, and that he is not acting in the best interest of the Polish people.
Tusk has organized several large demonstrations against the government in recent weeks. Two weeks ago, about a million people turned out in Warsaw.
The election is also partly about the relationship with Ukraine. Poland is one of Kiev’s fiercest allies, but the two countries recently disagreed over the import of Ukrainian grain. Warsaw has temporarily banned this to protect its agricultural sector. PiS usually scores very strongly in rural areas and thus appears to want to defend its voters.
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Voting will also take place on Sunday in several referendums called by the government. It concerns questions about EU asylum policy that PiS does not agree with and a potential fence along the border with Belarus. According to critics, the referendums are aimed at attracting more conservative voters to the polls.
Experts say that the elections will not be completely fair after eight years of the rule of law and justice. The party gained more control over state institutions, including the courts, the media, and the electoral process itself.
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