Over 175,000 Poles register to vote abroad

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WARSAW, Oct 18 (Reuters) More than 175,000 Poles have registered to vote abroad in Sunday's parliamentary election, well over three times as many as for the last ballot in 2005, official figures showed today.

The number given by the national election committee is still only a small proportion of the 2 million Poles thought to have emigrated to western Europe in search of work since Poland joined the European Union in 2004.

Fewer than 50,000 Poles registered to vote abroad in the last election. Of them, only around 35,000 voted.

Emigrants could be a significant force in the Oct. 21 election in the former communist country of 38 million.

Most of the emigrants have gone to Britain and Ireland, where over 68,000 registered to vote. Some 31,000 registered in the United States.

Poles in the United States are long time migrants who tend to have more conservative views while most of those in western Europe are younger and more likely to support the centre-right and pro-Europe Civic Platform opposition.

Opinion polls today gave a lead to the Civic Platform over the ruling Law and Justice party of Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski and his identical twin brother Lech, the president.

Ahead of the election, which was called two years early after the collapse of the prime minister's last coalition government, all three main parties have campaigned in Britain and Ireland.

For links to other election stories click here [nL16150913] REUTERS PD PM1726

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