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Poland: Socialists With Big Win In Elections

Prague, 24 September 2001 (RFE/RL) -- Updated exit polls now say that Poland's ex-communists may not have won an outright majority in yesterday's parliamentary election. Last night's exit polls said the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD), won a majority of 232 seats in the 460-member lower chamber of parliament.

New exit polls give the SLD 41 percent of the vote, 10 seats short of what is needed to rule alone in parliament. In second place is the new center-right Civic Platform.

Third place is a toss-up between the radical farmers party Samooborona, the right-wing Law and Justice, and the Polish Peasants Party.

According to the polls, the ruling right-wing Solidarity government received below 5 percent and will not be represented in parliament.

Official results are not expected before Wednesday.

In other news, the trial of Poland's former communist ruler, General Wojciech Jaruzelski, is expected to resume today in a regional court in Warsaw.

He is charged with ordering security forces to open fire on striking workers in 1970.

The trial was postponed on 7 September after two codefendants failed to appear in court, for health reasons. Hearings in the case began in May but have been mired in procedural disputes.

Jaruzelski faces a maximum of 25 years in jail if convicted of giving the order to fire on the strikers while he was defense minister in December 1970. The incident left 44 dead and hundreds wounded.