Monday, 26 October 2015

Law and Justice party won small majority in Polish election, says poll

Poland’s conservative opposition won Sunday’s parliamentary election with more than a third of the vote, preliminary official results show, marking a shift towards social conservatism and left-leaning economics. The Law and Justice party secured 37.6% of votes, the country’s election body said, with the ruling Civic Platform coming in second at 24.1%. It was not immediately clear whether the result, which will be made final on Tuesday, would allow the Law and Justice Party – led by Jarosław Kaczyński, the twin brother of Poland’s late president Lech – to rule alone. Exit polls on Sunday showed the Euro sceptic party commanding a small majority of seats in Poland’s 460-seat legislature. If that result is confirmed, the party has scored the biggest victory for a single party in terms of seats since Poland shed communism in 1989, returning to power after eight years. Three small parties also made it into parliament, the preliminary results showed. That might make for some political horse-trading over the next few weeks, but will not weaken the decisive swing towards Law and Justice’s brand of social conservatism mixed with left-leaning economics. The European commission and Germany, which both had strained ties with the last Law and Justice-led government, which fell apart in 2007 – said they hoped for good relations with the new government. It will not be led by the combative Kaczyński, but by Beata Szydło, his party loyalist, who has little in the way of foreign policy credentials. The party favours a sharp rise in public spending and a larger state role in the economy. It also wants the central bank to launch a cheap lending programme worth 350bn zloty (£59bn) over six years to support growth – an idea some see as undermining the bank’s independence. Kaczyński’s party aired plans to reap new revenues from next year with a tax on banks’ assets, and there were also signs it was confident of sufficient informal support in parliament from other parties to plan changes to Poland’s constitution. “Many party leaders have talked of wanting deeper change in Poland, so, if we want to deliver that, changes to the constitution are vital,” the party’s spokesman on economic affairs, Zbigniew Kuźmiuk, said on Monday. Rating agency Standard and Poor’s said the outcome of the vote had no immediate impact on Poland’s A rating with a positive outlook, but added that policy measures planned by Law and Justice could dampen investor confidence. Poland’s main stock market index rose 0.2% on Monday, but shares in some banks fell. The zloty weakened slightly as investors had already priced in a Law and Justice party victory in recent weeks.

HENRY E. J Williams

Author & Editor

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