No surprises in Poland as the ruling Law and Justice party (PiS) even bettered its 2015 result despite the criticism resonating throughout Poland and even Europe relating to the judiciary reform and women’s rights violations.
After 100% of ballots were processed PiS got 43.59% of the national vote translating into 51.09% of the mandates and 235 of the total 460 seats. This is just enough to form a single-party majority in the Sejm (lower house of the Polish parliament).
The opposition Civic Coalition (KO) received 27.40% of the vote and just 134 seats.
The Ipsos exit poll results released after the polling stations closed on October 13 gave PiS 43.6% of the vote, which turned out to be exceptionally accurate.
In the 2015 parliamentary elections, PiS received 37.6% which was still enough to get the majority of the 460 available seats.
This year's turnout is at 60.74% of the eligible voters which is significantly more than the norm for Polish elections, especially compared to the 2015 figure of 50.92%. 2019 turnout is the highest since the 1991 elections.
It is also worth noting that a coalition of far-right and nationalist groups named Konfederacja ("Confederation") surpassed the 5% threshold and will take 11 seats.
In the upper house of the Polish parliament, however, things are not so rosy for the ruling party: PiS has lost 13 seats and will now occupy less than a half of the mandates at 48 of 100. The main rival, liberal KO, will take 43 seats (9 more compared to the 2015 result).
According to hromadske correspondent Sashko Shevchenko who spent a few days in Warsaw speaking to voters and political experts, the cornerstone of PiS’ support have been generous subsidies and general assistance to the less well off. For instance, it was PiS who introduced the 13th pension for the retirees and income tax-exemption for those under 26 and earning below $22,547 a year (average salary in Poland is currently around $15,700 a year). On top of that, a law was passed that provides for payments of around $128 per month for each child in the family which makes up a significant proportion of the living for low-income families.
Despite this, the ruling party faced stark criticism after passing the controversial judicial reform law which undermined democracy and led to large-scale protests in the country. Besides, Poland has a questionable abortion law which is one of the strictest in Europe and practically outlaws legal abortion. The law raised many an eyebrow across Europe as it is regarded to be a violation of women’s rights.
READ MORE: Poland’s Democracy Crisis, Explained
On the basis of talks with analysts, Shevchenko further goes to predict PiS continuing its course and caring less about their popularity among the electorate in their second term in power.
The economic forecast for Poland is also not overly favorable, the journalist reports. Despite the economy continuously growing during PiS’ reign, due to poor economic policies applied in recent years, some economists go as far as scenting a crisis for Poland in the foreseeable future.