Change for Poland: PO victorious, PM Kaczyński to Step Down

With the biggest turnout at the polls since the collapse of communism nearly 20 year ago, Poland rejected the chaotic nationalist rule of the Kaczynski twins.

The conservative Kaczynski party Law and Justice (Prawo i Sprawiedliwosc) received 32.1 percent. The center left Left and Democrats (Lewica i Demokraci) 13.2 percent and the centrist Peasants’ Party (Polskie Stronnictwo Ludowe) 8.9 percent.

PO will have 209 mandates in the Sejm, PiS 166, LiD 53 and PSL 31. Both Self-Defense (Samoobrona) and LPR failed to enter parliament.

The senate will see 60 of its seats occupied by PO, 39 by PiS and one by an independent. A 54-percent turnout at the ballot box was the highest since 1989. Donald Tusk underlined this motivation saying “we are moved that Poles went to cast their votes.”

PO is largely supported by the young voters and those who live in the cities, where the fastest growth has been experienced in a decade.

PiS have support among the staunch Catholics and the older generation living in rural areas who feel that they have been forgotten by the period of rapid change.

As the official candidate for the prime minister position, Tusk is awaiting the formal swearing in procedure by the president and the stepping down of current PM Jaroslaw Kaczysnki. PiS has informed that Kaczynski will step down from his position as PM on November 5.

The biggest blow received was by Samoobrona, lead by Andrzej Lepper and Roman Giertych’s LPR. The parties received 1.5 percent and 1.3 percent of the votes respectively. Failing to get the required 3 percent, both parties will miss out on any
further party funds from the state budget.

Both parties will leave parliament.

On Tuesday the leader of Samoobrona told the media “we will know what the future holds for the party by Thursday.” Restructuring plans and a change of name are in the cards for the party.
Monday saw Roman Giertych resign as the leader of LPR.

At the announcement Giertych told the press that despite LPR’s appalling results it did not mean the party would disappear from the political scene.

“Politics are not about being in parliament. Politics are about changing reality. I am certain that the LPR has a great future ahead.”

Thursday will see Donald Tusk and the leader of PSL Waldemar Pawlak carry out coalition talks. It is rumored that PO will offer the additional posts of deputy prime minister and minister of agriculture.

Pawlak has also expressed an interest in infrastructure and quashing any linear tax talk.

Regardless, Tusk is optimistic. He has assured there will not be hundreds of coalition agreement papers, pacts, nor exclusive rights to just one radio station when the coalition agreement is signed. This assurance was given with reference to the last signing of the coalition pact between PiS, Samoobrona and LPR. At the signing only the conservative catholic media station Trwam was allowed in. Tusk further underlined that PO wants to conduct a coalition model completely different from that of the last two years.

With the largest turnout in nearly two decades the voting did not proceed without any glitches. Some voting stations, inundated with a larger than expected turnout, ran out of voting ballot sheets by as early as 10:00. People in a Warsaw electorate were forced to wait for over an hour for new ballot sheets to arrive. Due to the delays, the closing of the polls was moved from 20:00 to 23:00.

Poles voting in London endured 4-hour queues to cast their votes at the Polish Embassy and at the Consulate. The queue to the Polish Consulate in London extended for nearly a kilometer. Poles living in England traveled across the country to London to vote as “a change is mandatory if we are to return home,” said one voter who had been waiting in line for over 2 hours. The PKW (Electoral Commission) wants to implement changes and make internet voting possible.

On PO’s agenda is the rebuilding of ties with EU partners such as Germany as well as with Russia. Relations with both neighbors have been heavily strained under the PiS rule. PO will also be working on the withdrawal of Polish troops from Iraq. The Anti-Corruption Bureau (CBS) will continue to function. However, it will be made accountable for any illegalities it carries out.
Donald Tusk joked with the media on Tuesday night about who had congratulated him on the win. “I received a congratulatory call from former President Lech Walesa. I even received a call, which was somewhat surprising but very nice, a congratulatory call from former President Kwasniewski. Today the phone also rang and France’s President Sarkozy was on the line passing on his congratulations. Our current President Lech Kaczynski indeed must be a very busy man. I have had no such call from him.”

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