Shock result in Polish vote could signal larger power shift

Europe as a whole has for the longest time been one terrorist attack or economic catastrophe away from a sharp right turn. Immigration issues and resentment towards the EU project are also two others which bring the situation to a slower boil.

 

Defeat for President Bronislaw Komorowski communist-era dissident, a sign that parliamentary elections this fall could be unpredictable

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — It’s being called the biggest shock in Polish politics in years: President Bronislaw Komorowski apparently lost the first round of the country’s presidential election to a previously unknown 42-year-old member of the European Parliament.

The defeat for the communist-era dissident, who has long polled as one of the nation’s most trusted leaders, is a sign that parliamentary elections this fall could be unpredictable. It could even signal a possible return to power for Law and Justice, the right-wing group backing Sunday’s winning presidential candidate Andrzej Duda. It favors a more confrontational attitude to the European Union and neighbor Germany than that of the ruling Civic Platform.

A runoff in two weeks will decide the final outcome, but for now exit polls show that Komorowski took just 33 percent of the votes compared to more than 34 percent for Duda. The official results in Sunday’s vote, in which 11 candidates ran, are expected late Monday or Tuesday.

Even if the official outcome varies slightly from the exit poll, the result is undeniably a defeat for Komorowski, a center-right leader who earlier this year was expected to easily win far above 50 percent of the vote, avoiding a runoff altogether.

To the outside world, it might seem strange that Poles would feel frustrated given that the country has one of the fastest growing economies in Europe.

But many Poles, especially those in the countryside, are not enjoying higher wages, job security or other economic benefits that seem to be falling only to certain groups.

The most striking example of the malaise is the more than 2 million Poles who have emigrated since Poland joined the EU in 2004 seeking economic opportunities in Britain and elsewhere. Surveys show that many more want to join them. Kukiz has called the exodus an “extermination” of the Polish people.

Other problems include a flawed public health system and a dysfunctional bureaucracy.

Sunday’s voting was a catastrophe for the left. The two left-wing candidates together only took a projected 4 percent.

In reaction, several academics announced Monday that they are forming their own left-wing group ahead of fall elections, warning in an open letter that Poland is facing “the threat of total domination of public and political life by right-wing circles, including those on the extreme right.”

Full article: Shock result in Polish vote could signal larger power shift (The Times of Israel)

Comments are closed.