Poland is voting in high-stakes elections as a populist ruling party clings to power

Rob Pichetta

A defaced poster for a PiS candidate flies in the air in Warsaw. Poland’s election campaign has been toxic, with polls showing a tight result.



CNN

Voting takes place on Sunday in Poland A high-stakes and unpredictable The national election, its results, the direction of the country, the balance of power in the European Union and The future of war in Ukraine.

The populist ruling Law and Justice party, embroiled in a bitter fight with the European Union during its eight years in power, is seeking its third consecutive election victory, an unprecedented feat since Poland regained independence from the Soviet Union.

Law and Justice, known by its Polish acronym PiS, faces tough competition from a united opposition led by former Polish prime minister and European Council president Donald Tusk.

PiS has been accused by the European Union and the Polish opposition of undermining Poland’s democratic institutions during its time in power. PiS has brought the Polish judiciary, public media and cultural institutions under greater government control, and has taken a hardline stance against abortion access and LGBTQ+ rights.

During a bitter campaign, the party fired back at Dusk’s opposition coalition, with the former leader saying he would capitulate to Brussels and Berlin if he returned to power.

High inflation and the security of Poland’s borders were front and center for voters during the campaign. Developments in Kyiv will be closely watched after a tense period in which relations between the two close allies have soured.

Poland has been a key ally of Ukraine as it battles Russian forces in its east, but Warsaw has sharply criticized Ukraine’s government during a dispute over imports of Ukrainian grain.

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Voters elect members of both houses of Poland’s parliament, Warsaw’s lower house, the Sejm, which has 231 seats – all that is needed for a party to seize power.

If they fail to secure an overall majority in Sunday’s vote, the two largest blocs will seek to enter into a coalition or informal agreement that would allow them to govern.

There has been speculation over whether PiS will strike a deal with Confederation, a far-right party that has battled support for Ukraine and picked up some former PiS voters in rural areas.

But any messy power-sharing deal could increase the likelihood of another election in the future.

Voting closes at 9 p.m. (3 p.m. ET) in Poland on Sunday, with results expected overnight.

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