Polish opposition set to win big in election

A man letting his child drop his vote in a ballot box at a polling station in Przecieszyn, south Poland, yesterday.
A man letting his child drop his vote in a ballot box at a polling station in Przecieszyn, south Poland, yesterday.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

WARSAW • Poles began voting yesterday in a general election expected to end eight years of centrist government, with surveys showing the eurosceptic conservatives firmly ahead after running a campaign of anti-refugee rhetoric and welfare promises.

The opposition Law and Justice (PiS) party led by controversial former premier Jaroslaw Kaczynski commands an 8- to 12-point poll lead over the liberal, pro-European Civic Platform (PO) of Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz. Analysts said PiS could even end up governing alone.

Despite a quarter-century of explosive growth and vastly improved living standards since communism's demise, bread-and- butter issues coupled with fears sparked by Europe's migrant crisis dominated campaigning. Although the European Union member's economy is forecast to expand by 3.5 per cent this year and next, and joblessness recently fell below 10 per cent, many voters believe time and money have been wasted and are fed up.

"That the economy kept growing during the (2008-9) global crisis wasn't thanks to the PO, but rather to the gigantic influx of EU funds and investment ahead of the Euro 2012 championships," said Ms Agnieszka, 40, a senior manager at a Warsaw construction company, who declined to reveal her full name.

"Like most Poles, I think we need change, so I'm voting for PiS."

Most polls show PiS as the frontrunner on more than 30 per cent. PO is second with just over 20 per cent.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 26, 2015, with the headline 'Polish opposition set to win big in election'. Print Edition | Subscribe