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Exit Polls Show Anti-Migrant Right-Wing Party Wins Poland Parliamentary Vote

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 25/10/2015 Kelly Chen
ATHENA IMAGE © ASSOCIATED PRESS ATHENA IMAGE

ImageContent(562d4813e4b0443bb5645188,562d46b61400002200c7ac6e,Image,HectorAssetUrl(562d46b61400002200c7ac6e.jpeg,Some(),Some(jpeg)),ASSOCIATED PRESS,Polish Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz addresses supporters after the first exit polls were announced following general elections in Warsaw, Poland, Sunday, Oct. 25, 2015. Kopacz has conceded defeat after an exit poll showed that her pro-European Civic Platform party faced a decisive defeat by the right-wing Law and Justice party.(AP Photo/Alik Keplicz))

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Poland took a decisive turn to the right in its parliamentary election Sunday, tossing out the centrist party that had governed for eight years for a socially conservative and Euroskeptic party that wants to keep migrants out and spend more on Poland's own poor.

An exit poll showed the conservative Law and Justice party winning with 39 percent of the vote, enough to govern alone without forming a coalition.

The pro-European Civic Platform party received 23 percent of the vote, according to the exit poll. Polish Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz of Civic Platform conceded shortly after the exit poll was released.

Official polling results are expected Monday.

If the exit poll results are confirmed, the Law and Justice will take 242 seats in the 460-seat lower house of parliament and 58-year-old lawmaker Beata Szydlo will become Poland's next prime minister.

Civic Platform had led the country through a period of strong economic growth and political stability, even during the global financial crisis of 2008-09 and a 2010 plane crash that killed Poland's president and dozens of other top state officials. It is the only party that has governed for two successive terms in the democratic post-1989 era.

But the presidential vote in May signaled problems for Civic Platform when Law and Justice candidate Andrezj Duda edged out incumbent Bronislaw Komorowski.

A victory by Law and Justice gives the party a chance to implement a brand of politics that is strongly pro-NATO but also somewhat Euroskeptic. The party opposes adopting the euro currency and is strongly anti-migrant, positions that are expected to have a broader impact on the 28-nation European Union, of which Poland is a member.

The Catholic Church was seen as backing Law and Justice, as were many Poles who have not benefited from the country's strong economic growth, expected at 3.5 percent this year.

Law and Justice has promised to reverse an unpopular rise in the retirement age and put more money into the pockets of struggling families with tax breaks, monthly cash bonuses for children under 18 and free medication for people over 75. It also wants to raise taxes on the mostly foreign-owned banks and big supermarkets in Poland and give tax breaks to smaller local businesses and those that adopt Polish technologies.

Critics, however, slam its economic policies as irresponsible.

"If they win it could end up looking like Greece here," said Arkadiusz Skrodzki, a 22-year-old law student at a Civic Platform party.

 

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