Polish Opposition Tops Polls With Refugee Issue

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Polish Opposition Tops Polls With Refugee Issue

Poland's conservative opposition is on track to win general elections.


Warsaw:  Poland's conservative opposition is on track to win general elections on October 25, according to polls today which suggest it is tapping into fears over refugees to retain a solid lead over the governing centrists.

Two surveys gave the Law and Justice (PiS) party 32 and 36 percent support among the electorate, well ahead of the 22 percent for Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz's centrist Civic Platform (PO).

PiS had up to 40 percent support in two other independent opinion surveys published this week, suggesting party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski could end up with an absolute majority.

"PiS is clearly on track to win this election -- only a political earthquake could change that," Warsaw University political scientist Anna Materska-Sosnowska told AFP.

"Even if it initially falls short of the 231 seats needed for a governing majority, PiS will easily garner support from smaller like-minded parties with an appetite for power."

Former prime minister Kaczynski scored a resounding victory for his party in May's presidential election when he floated political greenhorn Andrzej Duda, who easily beat incumbent and long-time PO ally Bronislaw Komorowski.

Now Kaczynski has put forward Duda's campaign manager, Beata Szydlo, as his choice for prime minister.

Also a newcomer to the national stage, she is wooing voters with populist promises of generous spending.

Hitting the campaign trail this week, Kaczynski played up fears linked to the EU's worst migrant crisis since World War II.

He claimed refugees were bringing "cholera to the Greek islands, dysentery to Vienna, various types of parasites" in comments that critics said recalled the Nazi era.

"I'm afraid this is being received well by voters. Unfortunately, playing the fear card often earns political capital," Materska-Sosnowska said.

When PiS last held power in 2005-7, Kaczynski governed in tandem with his twin brother, the late president Lech Kaczynski.

The period was marked by internal political turmoil triggered by their combative style and international tensions brought on by their eurosceptic and anti-Russian views.

Lech Kaczynski died in a presidential jet crash in Smolensk, eastern Russia, in 2010.

Polls vary widely on Kukiz'15, tipped by analysts as PiS's most likely coalition partner.

Run by political newcomer Pawel Kukiz -- a retired punk rocker -- with some showing it could make its parliamentary debut with five to seven percent support.

Others show it burning out after Kukiz's spectacular political debut in the presidential election in which he shot out of nowhere to capture 20 percent of the vote.

Other parties that could enter parliament include the United Left, the Nowoczesna (Modern) liberals led by economist Richard Petru, the PO's current junior coalition partner, the PSL farmers' party, and the libertarian Korwin group.

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