WARSAW, Poland – On election day in Poland, many people kept nervously consulting their mobile phones for the changing prices of pistachios, tomatoes and bow ties. As if it mattered.
Well, it did.
When pistachios were trading at almost 41 units and tomatoes at only 23 Sunday, voters knew that the opposition Law and Justice party has trounced the ruling Civic Platform.
Pistachios stood for PIS, the Polish acronym for Law and Justice, and the price was their exit poll result. Tomatoes, pomidory in Polish, represented PO, or Civic Platform.
The camouflage was a humorous and creative way used by those in the know to bypass Poland's law that bans any campaigning or dissemination of partial returns while voting is underway.
The election was expected to bring a major shift to the right in Poland, and voters were impatient to learn how the parties were faring. The "Bazarek" (Polish for bazaar) prices were text messaged among friends, and indeed largely matched the exit polls, done exclusively by the private IPSOS center for three television stations.
Nobody admits leaking the data. IPSOS' Andrzej Olszewski told The Associated Press on Monday that no leak was possible from his center, which is bound by secrecy.
Bazarek had other creative names for the parties. "Ciacha," which means cookies, stood for the party of anti-establishment rock start Pawel Kukiz, whose name is pronounced like the English word cookies. "Bow ties" was clearly the code name for a radical right-wing politician, Janusz Korwin-Mikke, who always wears a bow tie.