Tue, Oct 23, 2018 - Page 7 News List

Law and Justice tops exit polls in Poland

BEHIND IN CITIES:The opposition coalition’s candidate appeared to have won in the capital, Warsaw, after first-round voting, with similar results in other major cities

AFP, WARSAW

Poland’s governing Law and Justice party came out on top in Sunday’s regional elections, but were losing to opposition candidates in mayoral races in large cities, including the capital, Warsaw, exit polls showed.

Sunday’s ballot was the first since a 2015 parliamentary election that handed Law and Justice a parliamentary majority and was seen as a key test as it prepares for EU and legislative elections next year.

The local elections also took place as Law and Justice has put Poland on a collision course with the EU by introducing a string of controversial judicial reforms that the bloc has said pose a threat to judicial independence, the rule of law and democracy.

Exit polls by the IPSOS pollsters showed Law and Justice winning 32.3 percent of the vote in regional elections across the nation, beating a coalition headed by the opposition Civic Platform, which had 24.7 percent.

Riding a wave of popularity driven by robust economic growth and social spending, Law and Justice appeared to make gains in regional assemblies, but was unlikely to be able to govern alone in them.

Law and Justice leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski hailed the results as a “good omen” ahead of next year’s parliamentary elections.

Law and Justice currently controls only one of Poland’s 16 regional assemblies.

Exit polls showed in third place the Polish Peasants’ Party winning 16.6 percent of the vote, a result likely to turn it into a kingmaker in coalition-building.

Polish Peasants’ Party president Wladyslaw Kosiniak-Kamysz on Sunday said there would be “no such coalitions” when asked whether the Polish Peasants’ Party would work with Law and Justice.

Meanwhile, in the major cities, Law and Justice failed to win mayoral races.

Civic Platform’s Rafal Trzaskowski, a 46-year-old member of the European Parliament, appeared to have won in Warsaw in the first round of voting with the IPSOS exit poll showing him at 54.1 percent against 30.9 percent for Law and Justice candidate Patryk Jaki.

Civic Platform candidates also dominated in the first round vote in Lodz, Poznan, Lublin and Wroclaw.

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