Poland prime minister suffers blow in local polls

By , on November 18, 2014


Meeting of the German Chancellor with the new Polish Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz, Chanclery, Berlin. (360b / Shutterstock)
Meeting of the German Chancellor with the new Polish Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz, Chanclery, Berlin. (360b / Shutterstock)

WARSAW, Poland — The ruling pro-European Civic Platform party was heading to its first electoral defeat in nine years, as returns trickled in Monday for local polls seen as Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz’ first test since taking over the job from Donald Tusk.

The balloting was seen as a measure of Kopacz’ strength ahead of general elections expected 11 months from now, and indicates that she has struggled to make her case to the people since Tusk left in September to take up the EU presidency.

Based on exit polls, Kopacz conceded that her party lost and congratulated the opposition Law and Justice party for its apparent victory.

Law and Justice, a nationalistic party that is deeply suspicious of Russia and also hesitant to hand over too much power to Brussels, celebrated its first apparent win since 2005. The party ran a government from 2005-2007 that was marked by tensions with Germany and the EU leadership.

Meanwhile, the State Electoral Commission said that a computer glitch was delaying the vote count in some places. The problem seemed fixed early Monday, but some issues persisted later in the day, said commission head Stefan Jaworski.

The turnout was just over 47 percent, but it wasn’t clear when the full returns would be known, Jaworski said.

Some cities will have to hold runoffs in two weeks to choose their mayors. According to an Ipsos exit poll, Law and Justice won about 31.5 percent of the provincial assemblies votes, compared to around 27.3 percent of votes for the Civic Platform.

The polls show that Law and Justice won greater support in the countryside, which tends to be more conservative, while Civic Platform did better in the big cities.

Poles are to vote in the spring of 2015 in a presidential race and in the fall of 2015 in general elections.