Polish PM scores historic election win

Sun Oct 9, 2011 7:39pm EDT
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By Gareth Jones

WARSAW (Reuters) - Donald Tusk will be the first Polish prime minister since the fall of communism in 1989 to rule for two successive terms after his center-right Civic Platform trounced its rivals in a parliamentary election.

An exit poll showed Tusk's pro-business party had won nearly 40 percent of votes in Sunday's election, short of an absolute majority but far ahead of Jaroslaw Kaczynski's nationalist-conservative Law and Justice party on just over 30 percent.

Financial markets will welcome Tusk's victory, which points to four more years of relative political and economic stability in the European Union's largest eastern member state at a time of deepening crisis in the euro zone.

Final official results are not expected until Tuesday evening, but a jubilant Tusk swiftly claimed victory and Kaczynski conceded defeat.

Projections based on the exit poll, conducted by TNS OBOP for national television, showed that PO and its preferred coalition partner, the Peasants' Party (PSL), would together have enough seats to win a majority in the Sejm lower house.

The leader of the rural-based PSL, Waldemar Pawlak, signaled he was ready to forge a new coalition with Tusk.

"The ruling party and coalition for the first time in Poland's post-communist history has been re-elected and that shows the consolidation of democracy in Poland," said Jacek Raciborski, a political scientist at Warsaw University.

"Only the low turnout is worrying," he added.   Continued...