Polish election sees 'new' Solidarity return to power

Allies of Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the leader of the opposition Law and Justice party, claimed victory last night after a survey of voters showed that his party had won 27.6 per cent of the vote.

That put the party just ahead of their rivals, the Civic Platform, who were thought to have scored 24.1 per cent - though the two parties were expected to form a coalition.

While the election is expected to usher in a change of political direction, it also underlines the capricious nature of the Polish electorate. In the 16 years since the fall of Communism, no Polish government has won re-election.

Five main parties fielded candidates but opinion polls had predicted that the two centre-right parties would together score more than 50 per cent of the vote.

EarlierJan Rokita, Civic Platform's candidate for prime minister, said the election would "mark the end of the post-Communist era". Among his party's proposals is a plan for a 15 per cent flat tax.

Mr Kaczynski said earlier yesterday: "Regardless of who will finally win this race between Law and Justice and the Civic Platform, the road to change will be open."

Law and Justice has campaigned for tax breaks and for government aid for the poor, while emphasising its commitment to the family and to Christian values. It is cool towards economic liberals, however, laying more emphasis on the role of the state.

Both centre-right parties have their origins in the Solidarnosc movement that prompted the overthrow of Communism in Poland. And, to add spice to the campaign, Mr Kaczynski's twin brother, Lech, is aiming to become president in separate elections next month, though Civic Platform's Donald Tusk is the clear favourite. The Kaczynski brothers opposed the Communist regime and were advisors to Solidarity.

Whatever the make-up of the new coalition, it faces a difficult task since many voters are disenchanted with the mixed results of free-market reforms undertaken since 1989.

The outgoing centre-left government has also been badly weakened by sleaze allegations and, in May last year, Leszek Miller resigned as prime minister to be succeeded by Marek Belka. He has since fallen out with the governing party and, last month, agreed to run as a candidate for a new group, the Democratic Party.

With a population of 39 million, Poland is by far the biggest of the 10 new members that joined the European Union last year, and its economy represents almost half of the new states' combined gross domestic product.

Economic growth has been healthy at 5.4 per cent in 2004 and a projected 3.3 per cent this year but unemployment remains high at 18 per cent. Critics of the outgoing government have also focused on its failure to tackle corruption, a key weakness in the post-Communist era.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
people
News
John Rees-Evans is standing for Ukip in Cardiff South and Penarth
news
Arts and Entertainment
Bianca Miller and Katie Bulmer-Cooke are scrutinised by Lord Sugar's aide Nick Hewer on The Apprentice final
tvBut Bianca Miller has taken on board his comments over pricing
Life and Style
Approaching sale shopping in a smart way means that you’ll get the most out of your money
life + styleSales shopping tips and tricks from the experts
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
Elton John and David Furnish exchange marriage vows
peopleSinger posts pictures of nuptials throughout the day
News
in picturesWounded and mangy husky puppy rescued from dump
Sport
David Silva, Andy Carroll, Arsene Wenger and Radamel Falcao
football
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Photo Booth Host

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This company offers London's best photo booth ...

Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Service Engineers



£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Service Engineers ...

Recruitment Genius: Project Director / Operations Director

£50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an incredible opportunity for a ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator

£16000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Administrator is requir...

Day In a Page

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'