Lewisham Polish Centre takes on new polling duties as Poles vote in landmark elections back home

Lewisham Polish Centre – one of the Electoral Commissions in London this year. Pic: Imogen Adam

Polish citizens from around London and beyond travelled to Lewisham Polish Centre (LPC) to cast their ballots on the 2023 Polish parliamentary election back home.

LPC was granted permission by the consulate to serve as a polling station after meeting location and voter number requirements. The decision came as part of a push to allow more Polish people to vote from the UK in the 2023 elections.

Voting for the took place on 15 October between 5am and 9pm.

Agnieszka Łokaj, Lewisham Polish Centre Chair, told EastLondonLines: “Over 2,500 people registered and we had a turnout of 91% in our commission, so we answered the needs of our area. Overall, the turnout for this election was 74% which is the highest since the fall of communism in 1989. “

The UK and Poland signed a treaty in May 2020 that secured the right of British and Polish citizens to stand and vote in local elections in each other’s countries following the UK’s exit from the EU.

Queues to vote on 15 October, where there was a maximum hour long wait. Pic: Lewisham Polish Centre – Facebook

According to Łokaj, people travelled from as far afield as Kent to cast their ballot.

“We know how important this election was, and that it is a huge responsibility and we are proud that we could contribute to it.”

A group of 13 volunteers started counting the votes at 9pm and finished twelve hours later.

The vote count was sent to the consulate for approval. Election protocol stipulates that votes should be sent within 24 hours of the ballots being cast.

Some of the 13 volunteers who worked on counting the votes. Pic: Lewisham Polish Centre – Facebook

The election results saw right-wing ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party lose their majority in parliament, laying the ground for a coalition government to form amongst the mainstream opposition: the centrist Civic Coalition (KO), centre-right Third Way (Trzecia Droga) and The Left (Lewica).

Łokaj said: “The mood is up amongst Poles abroad as the huge majority voted against the current ruling party.  It sends a huge message to the government that Poles had enough and a change is needed in Poland.”

“A lot of positive messages were sent to the centre, our members, and everyone who contributed to this success of democracy.”

The LPC charity was founded in 1963 by Polish immigrants, to aid those displaced by the events of WWII, and aims to support the learning of the Polish language, Polish culture and customs.


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