UPDATE 5:23 p.m. EDT: Analysts had predicted the refugee crisis in Europe would likely sway the results of Sunday's general elections in Poland, and that's just what happened. Euroskeptic Jaroslaw Kaczynski, leader of Poland's conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party, won an absolute parliamentary majority in the elections, broadcaster TVP projected, according to Agence France-Press.
A PiS win will end eight years of centrist rule and give a clear victory to Eurosceptic conservatives who fought against refugees and welfare promises. An exit poll showed the PiS picked up 242 out of 460 seats in the lower house of Parliament, ousting the governing Civic Platform (PO) liberals who had 133 seats, AFP reported.
The refugee crisis in Europe will likely sway the results of Sunday's general elections in Poland and give victory to Euroskeptic Jaroslaw Kaczynski, leader of the conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party, analysts predicted. The Eastern European country in the past few months has closed its doors to an influx of refugees, mainly from Syria, and voters appeared poised to shift toward the leading far-right, nationalist party.
Polls opened at 7 a.m., local time, and close at 9 p.m. to elect members of Parliament and a new president. Voters in Poland have turned toward the Law and Justice Party, a right-wing party led by Jaroslaw Kaczynski, that has promised to stand up for Poles against the EU. The Law and Justice Party was leading in the polls by 17 percentage points Sunday afternoon, local time, Bloomberg reported.
More than 600,000 people have arrived on Europe's shores since January, most of them fleeing escalating violence in the Middle East and North Africa. European Union member states have struggled to come up with a unified response to the crisis, and several countries, including Poland, have refused to accept EU refugee quotas that would mean welcoming a number of asylum-seekers, based on each member state's wealth and population.
Very few refugees have expressed an interest in settling in Poland permanently, however, favoring wealthy Western European countries such as Germany and Austria. Most people who applied for asylum in Poland this year so far have not been from Iraq, Syria or any of the other dominant refugee-producing countries in the current crisis. Poland's refugees continue to come from former Soviet nations such as Russia and Ukraine.
“They are not talking about the issues that matter,” voter Janina Żurowska-Filipek of Warsaw told the Guardian. “They are promoting fear of immigrants when, in fact, migrants are not going to come to Poland. They want to go to rich countries,” she said.
Incumbent Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz's Civic Unity Party has led the nation to great economic growth in the past 10 years, making Poland one of the fastest-growing economies in Europe. Despite the Civic Unity Party's strides, fear of immigrants has become the dominant issue in the elections, as it has in many other European nations.
Preliminary polling results are expected to be reported following the closing of polling stations at 9 p.m. Results are not expected until Monday, however, and they can be found on Poland's official election website which will also be posting live updates throughout Sunday.