Election victors in Poland to push for reform

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WARSAW, Oct 22 (Reuters) Poland's centre-right election victors said today they would seek a broad alliance in parliament to push through economic reforms and redirect Poland into the EU mainstream.

The Civic Platform defeated the conservative Law and Justice party of Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski in yesterday's election after a record number of Poles turned up at the ballot box to reject social conservatism and isolationism.

Civic Platform leader Donald Tusk is expected to be prime minister of the new government, with the centrist Peasant's Party his expected coalition partner.

''We will have to form the broadest possible formula for cooperating with all who wanted to remove Law and Justice from power,'' Bronislaw Komorowski, the Platform's number two leader, told Polish TOK FM radio.

According to preliminary results from the electoral commission, the Platform won 41.6 per cent of the vote, giving them 208 seats in the lower house -- short of an outright majority of 231 seats. Final results were expected on Tuesday.

With 91 per cent of the vote counted, the Peasants' Party had won 8.8 per cent, or 35 seats, giving the likely government 243 seats in the 460-seat lower house, the Sejm.

Kaczynski, whose party got over 30 percent of the vote, conceded defeat.

His twin brother Lech, the president, does not face an election until 2010 but opposition parties together looked set to get enough seats in parliament to trump his veto power.

It is up to the president to nominate the next prime minister once the new parliament meets for the first time on Nov. 5.

RELIEF IN EUROPE The Platform's victory will be greeted with relief in EU capitals where the Kaczynskis have earned a reputation of troublemakers with their nationalist agenda since coming to power in 2005.

''Poland's credibility will be rebuilt,'' said Zbigniew Lewicki, a foreign policy expert at the University of Warsaw. ''We have a chance of becoming a normal European country.'' Despite a booming economy, the Kaczynskis had ruled during constant infighting, particularly over the campaign against post-communist graft that has been their central policy.

The opposition had accused them of abusing secret services and undermining good democratic practice with attacks on independent judiciary and tight control of state media.

Following its victory, Platform leaders said they would try to put Poland's all-but-abandoned drive to adopt the euro back on track, with 2012-13 seen as the earliest entry date.

It promised to seek lower taxes, cut red tape and speed up privatisation to help slash the budget deficit and debt -- key euro zone criteria seen as the main obstacles to euro zone membership.

It also plans to bring home some 900 troops from the US-led force in Iraq and may bargain hard with Washington e over US plans to set up a missile defence site in Poland, vehemently opposed by neighbouring Russia.

The Peasants signalled readiness to enter the coalition with the Platform but the party is traditionally more sceptical about free market policies and is expected to bargain hard in any coalition negotiations.

Party officials said Civic Platform's Tusk was likely to begin negotiations this week.


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