Eastern Europe

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Polish parliamentary elections raise stakes for presidential vote

Jaroslaw Kaczynski, leader of the Law and Justice political party (PiS), speaks to his supporters.
Jaroslaw Kaczynski, leader of the Law and Justice political party. Photo: Carsten Koall/Getty Images.

Poland's Law and Justice party (PiS) prevailed this weekend in parliamentary elections marked by a record turnout of 61%, cementing the euroskeptic party's hold on power domestically and potentially impacting democratic trends across the EU.

The big picture: The PiS has presided over fast economic growth (above 5% in 2018), the delivery of generous social programs, and a more conservative course on many issues, such as LGBT rights, that are deeply polarizing. But after an often controversial 4-year term, the party has now received a sign of popular approval.

Law and Justice, Poland's ruling nationalist party, easily wins elections

Leader of Poland's law and justice party
Leader of the Law and Justice party Jaroslaw Kaczynski. Photo: JP Black/LightRocket via Getty Images

Poland's ruling Law and Justice party is set to extend its parliamentary majority after coming in first with 43.6% of the vote in Sunday's elections, according to an exit poll reported by AP.

Why it matters: The right-wing, populist Polish government has clashed with the European Union over issues related to the rule of law, with the EU passing a motion in 2017 censuring Poland for cracking down on judicial independence. While Law and Justice has maintained popularity thanks in part to a generous social welfare system and strong economic growth, the party's social conservatism and targeting of LGBT people have contributed to an increasingly polarized society.