Polish PM: no repeat of bungled local elections

AP News
Posted: Nov 21, 2014 12:17 PM
Polish PM: no repeat of bungled local elections

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — There will be no rerun of last Sunday's Polish local elections despite political turmoil sparked by a computer malfunction that has caused the results to be delayed by days, the prime minister said Friday.

It is the first time in 25 years of Poland's democracy that an election's credibility has been at stake.

President Bronislaw Komorowski postponed a visit to Japan that was planned for next week to consult with political leaders in Warsaw over the problem, presidential spokeswoman Joanna Trzaska-Wieczorek said.

Later FridayTrzaska-Wieczorek told The Associated Press that the head of the State Electoral Commission Stefan Jaworski has handed in his resignation. She said the president would accept it after the full results are announced from the runoff in some mayoral races scheduled for Nov. 30.

The vote had been considered a test of strength for Poland's Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz ahead of general and presidential elections next year. Exit polls suggested a win in local assemblies for the main opposition Law and Justice party. The delay in results for those votes has led to speculation that the vote could have been manipulated.

Kopacz said that the electoral commission failed in its task, but that did not mean the elections were rigged.

"I absolutely rule out a repeat of the vote," Kopacz said, speaking on Radio Zet. "Democracy is working fine."

Some politicians are calling for the vote to be repeated and question the credibility of the returns, which are trickling in as counts by hand are being done in many places.

A group of right-wing protesters stormed the commission's headquarters in Warsaw late Thursday, demanding that its members resign.

Just months before the elections, the commission contracted a cheap vote-counting system from a little-known firm, Nabino. The system failed in two tests, but the commission went ahead with it, defying the warnings of a state security agency. One commission member resigned on Wednesday.

Warsaw prosecutors are investigating a hacking attack on the commission's website, but said it was unrelated to the malfunction.

It was not clear when the full returns would be published.