November 23, 2014 / 8:02 PM / 5 years ago

Polish opposition says local poll result 'dishonest'

WARSAW (Reuters) - Poland’s largest opposition party said on Sunday the result of last week’s local elections, which gave the ruling Civic Platform (PO) party the highest number of provincial assembly seats, was “dishonest.”

“We believe the results announced by the PKW are untrue, dishonest, not to simply say falsified,” Jaroslaw Kaczynski, leader of the Law and Justice (PiS) party, told a news conference, adding his party would appeal the vote in courts.

Official results of the Nov. 16 election were announced by the state election commission PKW on Saturday following technical glitches that delayed the vote count.

PO’s victory defied an exit poll which showed PiS ahead of PO by a wide margin. Such an outcome would have given the party its first nationwide victory in nine years.

Final results showed the centre-right PO won 179 seats in provincial assemblies. The conservative bloc led by PiS came second, securing 171 seats.

The junior ruling coalition partner Polish Peasant Party (PSL) won 157 seats, while the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD), which joined earlier PiS calls for a re-run of the vote, secured 28 seats. The election commission said nearly 18 percent of votes were invalid.

Kaczynski called for a demonstration on Dec. 13 against the election result.

“This is a big issue for Poland, for Polish democracy, because approving such a situation means simply a change of regime, means pushing Poland eastwards,” he said.

Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz dismissed the opposition calls as an attempt to undermine democracy in Poland, European Union’s largest ex-communist economy.

“Questioning of the election results by opposition leaders is an act that only benefits partisan interests,” Kopacz said in a letter to party members read out by the administration minister. “It has one effect - it is an attempt to destroy the fundamentals of democracy.”

The delay in publishing the results, caused by the failure of a piece of software intended to aid the vote count, led eight out of nine members of the election commission, including its head, to say they will resign.

Regional elections are held every four years to choose mayors, provincial assembly members and other local authorities.

(This version of the story was refiled to fix formatting errors)

Reporting by Marcin Goettig; Editing by Clelia Oziel

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