Poland veers to right at election
Conservative and liberal parties in Poland have ousted the left in the general election, exit polls indicate.
The polls put the Law and Justice Party (PiS) in the lead at about 28% of the vote, followed by its liberal ally Civic Platform (PO) on about 24%.
Correspondents say voters were angry with the ruling left over a series of corruption scandals and their failure to bring down unemployment.
The polls are Poland's first since joining the European Union in May 2004.
The elections chose the 460-member lower house of parliament while the country will go back to the polls in two weeks to elect a new president.
Turnout among the 30 million Poles eligible to vote appeared to be less than 40%, compared to 46% at the last election in 2001.
The new government, the BBC's Adam Easton reports, will have its work cut out winning broad support as many Poles simply do not trust their politicians.
"Everything points to us having won this election," PiS leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski told party supporters in Warsaw.
The two centre-right parties are both rooted in the anti-communist Solidarity movement but differ on issues such as the budget and taxation.
PiS, whose agenda includes tax breaks and state aid for the poor, has pledged to uphold traditional family and Christian values. It is suspicious of economic liberalism.
PO strongly promotes free market forces and wanted to introduce a flat 15% rate for income tax, corporation tax and VAT.
It also promised to move faster on deregulation and privatisation, in order to adopt the euro as soon as possible.
It had been in the lead for much of the campaign but conceded that their plans for the flat tax plan may have been a mistake, said the BBC's Mike Sanders in Warsaw.
"I was hesitating," jobless voter Andrzej Sulkowski told the Associated Press news agency.
"PiS would have been better on economic issues but maybe it would have offered less equality."
Since the fall of communism in 1989, no Polish government has been re-elected.
Exit polls suggest the ruling Democratic Left Alliance (SLD), finished third at a little over 11% - a better score than predicted but disastrous compared to 41% in 2001.
The party led Poland into the European Union last year but was hit by scandals and by a jobless figure of nearly 20%.
Coming just behind it on Sunday, exit polls suggest, was the radical Self-Defence party on 10% while two others also won seats: the League of Polish Families on 9% and the Peasants' Party on 6%.
SLD has also suffered a blow in its bid at the presidential election in October since former foreign minister Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz pulled out of the race amidst concerns over his share dealings.
Analysts say the field is now open to PO's Donald Tusk and PiS' Lech Kaczynski.
Lech's twin brother, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, pledged again on Sunday not to accept the prime minister's job in the new government if his sibling wins.
Consequently Poland will not know the name of its new prime minister until next month.