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Polish Opposition Wins Parliamentary Polls

  • VOA News

Conservative Law and Justice leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski, center left, and Justice candidate for the Prime Minister Beata Szydlo, center right, react at the party's headquarters in Warsaw, Poland, on Sunday, Oct. 25, 2015.

Conservative Law and Justice leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski, center left, and Justice candidate for the Prime Minister Beata Szydlo, center right, react at the party's headquarters in Warsaw, Poland, on Sunday, Oct. 25, 2015.

Poland's socially conservative euro-skeptic Law and Justice Party (PiS) claimed victory Sunday in parliamentary polls, after months of campaigning on promises of more welfare spending, opposition to the euro currency and vows to oppose the resettlement of Muslim migrants in Polish territory.

Exit polls showed the victors, led by former prime minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski, winning just over 39 percent of the vote, with the ruling pro-European, pro-business Civic Platform Party running a distant second at 23 percent. A short while after poll results were released, Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz conceded defeat.

If the exit poll data holds as vote counting continues, PiS will seat an absolute majority of 242 lawmakers in the 460-member lower house of parliament, and 58-year-old Beata Szydlo will become the country's next prime minister.

During the months-long campaign, Law and Justice also promised to reverse an unpopular hike in the retirement age and implement tax breaks for struggling families. Its candidates also promised to raise taxes on foreign-owned banks and cut taxes to smaller local businesses.

Opinion polls have for months shown the incumbent party of Prime Minister Kopacz in trouble, following the surprise election defeat last May of incumbent Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski -- a strong Kopacz ally.

That win came as controversy continued to swirl over last year's release of secretly recorded conversations between Komorowski and Kopacz allies, in which the participants debated the merits of political deal making with lobbyists and business people.

Analysts say the election likely signals that Poland will close ranks with Hungary and Slovakia in opposing the relocation of migrants - most of them Syrians - who have flooded the European continent in recent months to escape war in their homeland.

PiS campaigners argued the Muslim migrants could threaten Poland's Roman Catholic way of life, while Kaczynski earlier this month warned that they could bring disease and parasites with them.

The PiS party last held power from 2005 to 2007, when Kaczynski governed alongside his twin brother, former president Lech Kaczynski.

The president died in a plane crash in western Russia in 2010.

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