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
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales / Account Manager

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales / Account Manager is re...

Ashdown Group: Application Developer - C#.Net, ASP.Net - Cambridgeshire

Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Software Application Developer (C# & ASP.Net, SQL S...

Recruitment Genius: Payroll Officer - Part Time

£12047 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Part Time Payroll Officer required for t...

Recruitment Genius: Event Management and Marketing Admin Support

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot