Polish PM Tusk's Ruling Party Wins General Elections - Exit PollsWorld | October 9, 2011, Sunday // 23:51| views
Donald Tusk is set to govern Poland for 4 more years after his Civic Platform party won Sunday's elections. Photo from images99
The Civic Platform party of Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk has won Poland's general elections on Sunday, exit poll results indicate.
Tusk's centrist liberal party Civic Platform (PO) has won 39.6% of the votes, an exit poll showed, opening the way for the party to return to power for a second term in a coalition -- an unprecedented feat in the history of Poland's young democracy, The Warsaw Voice reported.
An exit poll quoted by public television broadcaster TVP showed that the PO's archrival, the conservative, euroskeptic Law and Justice (PiS) party, led by hardline former Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski, won 30.1% of the votes to finish second.
The rural-based Polish People's Party (PSL) came fourth with 8.2% of the vote, a result expected to give the PO a majority of 239 seats in the 460-seat lower chamber of parliament if it renews its coalition with PSL, with whom it has governed the country for the last four years.
The turnout in Poland's general elections was 47.7%, 6.18 percentage points lower than in the last elections in 2007, according to an exit poll by the TNS OBOP agency.
A jubilant Tusk, whose centrist, pro-European PO was keen in election campaigning to take the credit for Poland's strong economic performance during the global crisis, thanked supporters, saying, "I believe the next four years are an even greater challenge."
"We will have to work twice as hard and act twice as fast. Poles have the right to an increasingly high quality of life," Tusk added, as cited by The Warsaw Voice.
Jaroslaw Kaczynski, whose party won the most votes in eastern, mostly poorer regions of Poland, but lost out to PO in the west, said, "Unfortunately, a large part of society decided that things are fine as they are."
However, he put on a brave face, insisting, "The day of victory will come. Poland needs changes and these changes will happen."
The once-powerful leftwing Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) came a distant fifth with a mere 7.7% of the vote, for the first time finishing behind the PSL, according to the exit poll. Analysts said the result would put the future of Grzegorz Napieralski as party leader in doubt.
The SLD was overtaken by the recently-formed Palikot Movement (RP), led by flamboyant former PO deputy Janusz Palikot, which came third in a surprisingly strong performance with 10.1% of the vote, according to the exit poll.
Palikot is one of Poland's most controversial politicians, known for championing issues such as legalizing soft drugs, more rights for same-sex couples and reducing the role of the Catholic Church in public life.
Analysts said Palikot's party would likely prove a difficult coalition partner for Tusk's moderate PO, which was more likely to turn to the PSL. Full-steam coalition talks were expected to get underway Monday.
Poland held its general elections in the midst of its six-month term as a holder of the rotating EU Presidency; however, there have been few major concerns that the polls will disturb the work of the Polish EU Presidency regardless of their results.
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