Polish conservatives carry first round of local elections: Exit poll

Polish voters handed a surprise victory to the opposition Sunday in the first round of regional and local elections seen as a key test of the ruling party, according to an exit poll.

Warsaw: Polish voters handed a surprise victory to the opposition Sunday in the first round of regional and local elections seen as a key test of the ruling party, according to an exit poll.

The conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party pulled in 31.5 percent of the vote, while the Civic Platform, in power since 2007, got 27.3 percent of ballots, according to an exit poll from public television.

"It`s very good news," said PiS president Jaroslaw Kaczynski. "It`s news that gives birth to good prospects (for the future)".

Coming in third was the Polish Peasant`s party, a Civic Platform ally, which took 17 percent of the vote.

Opinion polls had given Civic Platform a comfortable 32 percent of the vote, versus 27 percent for its main rival.

More than 30 million voters were eligible to cast ballots in the race to pick nearly 47,000 municipal and regional representatives and about 2,500 mayors.

The second round is to be held on November 30.

The government, led since late September by Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz after former premier Donald Tusk resigned after he was tapped to become the next European Council chief in December, is tasked with preparing the country to join the eurozone.

Poland is obliged to join the single currency bloc as part of its 2004 European Union entry deal but has dragged its feet on the move, which would require it to amend its constitution.

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