Polish elections see end of far-right rule in win for LGBTQ+ rights

The election results mark a significant shift for Polish LGBTQ+ citizens, as the far-right party is now set to lose power.

This article is about Polish elections and LGBTQ+ rights. In the photo, a Pride march in Warsaw, with people waving Pride flags.
Image: Via Twitter - @dvrkplayer

As the first exit polls for the 2023 Polish general elections suggest, the far-right ruling party Law and Justice is on the course of losing power, as opposition parties appear to have secured enough votes to oust the current government. The results of these elections mark a significant change of direction socially, politically and culturally, given that the current Polish government has been feuding with the European Union over matters regarding the rule of law, media freedom, immigration and LGBTQ+ rights since it came to power in 2015.

As reported by The Journal, the first exit poll published on Sunday night, October 15, showed that while the Law and Justice party won the most seats in the Parliament (200), it was not enough to lead to a government that could pass legislation, with 231 being the total needed for a majority. Instead, three opposition parties won a combined 248 seats.

With polls closing at 9pm local time, these elections saw a 72.9% turnout, the highest since the fall of communism in 1989. According to Ipsos exit polls, a larger portion of 18-29 year-olds turned out to vote compared to over-60s. A second exit poll published on Monday seems to confirm Sunday’s results. The final results will be published on Tuesday, October 17.

One of the opposition parties is the Civic Coalition, led by former Prime Minister and ex-EU President Donald Tusk, which won 31.6% of the votes. Speaking after the first results were announced, Tusk said: “I have been a politician for many years. I’m an athlete. Never in my life have I been so happy about taking seemingly second place.

“Poland won. Democracy has won. We have removed them from power,” he continued. “This result might still be better, but already today we can say this is the end of the bad time, this is end of Law and Justice rule.”


Commenting on the exit polls, the Law and Justice leader, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, said that he didn’t know if the party’s “success will be able to be turned into another term in power”. Over the past few years while the party was in government, the rise in anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric in Poland resulted in numerous municipalities in the country declaring themselves “free of LGBT ideology”.

The results of the elections thus mark a significant shift for Polish queer citizens, as Tusk’s stance on LGBTQ+ rights seems to diverge from the one that the current government holds. During a speech given earlier in September, Tusk announced that his party had two bills lined up in favour of the LGBTQ+ community. One of the bills aims to simplify the self-identification process for trans people, while the other would introduce same-sex civil partnerships.


LGBTQ+ activist Bart Staszewski called the results of the Polish elections the end of a “nightmare” for himself as a gay man and others. “This is just the beginning of reclaiming of our country. The fight is ahead but we are breathing fresh air today,” he added.

In addition to this, Civic Coalition has also vowed to liberalise abortion laws in the country, after the current government imposed a near-total ban in 2021.

At the same time as the elections, a controversial referendum was also held on matters of migration, with the government inviting people to vote on whether to accept “thousands of migrants” as part of the EU scheme. Some leaders from the opposition urged citizens to boycott the referendum and many voters were seen refusing to take part in it. The exit poll of the referendum showed a 40% participation, which means results will not be legally binding.

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