If you’d like to read about the deeper context behind the results, check out our article detailing the leadup to the Polish election!

As the final vote counts and seat share calculations finish, the 2023 Polish parliamentary election has concluded with the results pointing to a historic defeat to the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party.

With 100% of the votes counted, the PiS has lost its outright majority in Poland’s lower chamber, the Sejm, while the opposition alliance led by former Prime Minister and President of the European Council Donald Tusk has crossed the 231 seat threshold to control the Sejm. While the PiS-led alliance remained the largest grouping with 194 seats out of 460, the combined total of Tusk’s Civic Coalition, the centrist Third Way, and The Left have eeked out 248 seats. The far-right Confederation, considered a potential kingmaker throughout much of the campaign, scored a relatively dissapointing 18 seats.

PiS leader Jarosław Kaczyński’s United Right electoral alliance lost 8.2% of its vote share from the last election in 2019, their worst result since the grouping was formed in 2015. However, as the largest party in the Sejm, the PiS will be given the first opportunity to form a governing coalition by President Andrzej Duda, who is himself affiliated with the PiS. All members of Tusk’s opposition alliance have pledged to work together, meaning the PiS would have to turn to Confederation to govern. Yet Confederation has stated it will only work with Kaczyński in return for ministerial posts, and would likely extract policy concessions from the economically statist PiS for Confederation’s radical libertarian platform. Either way, a hypothetical United Right and Confederation coalition would still be 19 seats short of the 231 needed to govern, making a Tusk-led opposition coalition all but inevitable.

The likely effects of a Tusk government would be an immediate improvement in relations with the EU, as the PiS had repeatedly angered Brussels over meddling with Poland’s judicial system and media. However, over the PiS’ eight years in power it has appointed PiS-friendly judges to its highest courts and entrenched its influence within state institutions, making reform a challenging prospect. Tusk also supports rolling back the PiS’ near-total ban on abortion, though potential disagreements may emerge from within the opposition alliance. The Third Way, which relies on some rural agrarian support, prefers to put the matter to a referendum.

The 2023 Polish parliamentary election may prove to be a watershed moment for the EU, with a proudly pro-EU figure at the nation’s helm. In a reversal of a trend that had seen Eurosceptic and right-wing leaders surge to power across Europe, such as Georgia Meloni in Italy and Robert Fico in Slovakia, European capitals can look forward to a reprieve from confrontation with the EU’s biggest eastern member.