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Europe Divided
Poland Elections Deliver Big Blow to Brussels

The final results are in from Poland, and they match what exit polls were telling us: the pro-EU Civic Platform party has been ousted from power in Warsaw. The BBC reports:

Poland’s conservative Law and Justice party won enough votes in Sunday’s parliamentary elections to govern alone, final results show.

The party won 37.58% of the vote, giving it a majority in the lower house of 235 out of 460 seats.

Civic Platform, which led Poland’s coalition government for the last eight years, won 138 seats or 24.09%.

It is the first time a single party has won enough votes to govern alone since democracy was restored in 1989.

Not only was the centrist Civic Platform thrown out, the Left coalition was completely decimated. It wasn’t clear until yesterday whether Law and Justice (PiS) would have enough votes to go it alone—PiS representatives were floating coalition arrangements with one of the smaller anti-establishment parties that made it into parliament at the expense of the traditional Left.

But now, free to rule alone (albeit by a slim margin), PiS is talking a big game. Domestically, it has pledged to impose additional taxes on foreign businesses in order to pay for more generous social programs. It is keen to protect its coal industry from the increasingly strident demands of the global green movement. (The incoming Prime Minister is a coal miner’s daughter.) Also it is likely to be a lot more socially conservative, although it’s not clear how much they will be able to change the laws already on the books. Abroad, PiS will likely take an even more strident stance on immigration, and has said that it would like to expand its Visegrad Group bloc in the EU to include countries from the Balkans and Romania, giving it clout against Germany and France.

Poland is a big country and an important one. The shift from a pro-German, don’t-rock-the-boat party to a more assertive and nationalistic government is going to be felt in Brussels as the EU’s increasingly besieged establishment struggles to cope in an ever more turbulent environment.

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