Poland and Polish Discussion Group and Forum

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Poland and Polish Discussion Group and Forum
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Re: Elections in Poland

"This was the leader in today's Manchester Guardian. One of the nicest things I've read about Poland in the foreign press lately.


Separating the terrible twins
Leader
Tuesday October 23, 2007
The Guardian
Polish democracy grew up on Sunday, when the country's voters rejected the strident, xenophobic nationalism of Jaroslav Kaczynski. The election mattered not just because it was the first time a generation born after 1989 could vote. Nor because the liberal conservative winner Donald Tusk won the strongest mandate of any prime minister in the post- communist era. It was important because it saw a new generation of voters express its impatience with a leadership that saw the rise of Poland exclusively through the prism of 20th- century invasion and occupation. Though Mr Kaczynski's twin brother Lech still holds the presidency, Poland has turned a corner.
The reaction in European capitals to the departure of the intellectually dominant Kaczynski twin is not the best way to gauge the result of a snap election. But it does show how many countries the twins alienated in their brief but incident-packed reign. There was Germany, which found that the country they had sponsored for entry into the EU was now using membership as a way of settling old scores. There was Russia, whose relationship with the EU was embittered by Poland, retaliating to a Russian ban on Polish meat. There was the EU itself, whose reform treaty was nearly scuppered in the summer by Polish demands for more votes. The election was as much about Poland's image abroad as it was about the need for more tolerance and liberty at home. If Mr Kaczynski's model for Poland was a combative, xenophobic country surrounded by perceived enemies, and committed only to a relationship with a dwindling band of US neoconservatives, that model was rejected by the thousands of Poles living in Britain and Ireland who had a calmer, less hysterical view Poland's place in Europe.
The election of Mr Tusk's Civic Platform (PO) is not going to change Poland's foreign policy overnight. It was the PO that came up with the slogan "Nice or death" in the row over the voting rights that Warsaw had initially won at the Nice Treaty. Poland will remain critical of the EU and distrustful of Vladimir Putin's Russia. It will agree to the deployment of a missile defence base in the north-west of the country, but the man tipped to be its foreign minister, Radek Sikorski, will demand a higher price for Warsaw's acquiesence in terms of the modernisation of the Polish armed forces. Poland will still defend its national interests, with more pragmatism and less of the damaging anti-German rhetoric.
Lech Kaczynski remains in power, and it is one of the ironies of his brother's defeat that he will have to appoint a new prime minister. Before the election, he threatened to use his power of veto to block any legislation he did not agree with. If he carried out this threat, he would only be broadening the coalition of support that Civic Platform would enjoy in parliament. The government will be formed from a coalition of Civic Platform and the Peasants' party. This would be enough to secure a parliamentary majority but not the 60% of votes needed to overcome a presidential veto. If this happened, the Left and Democrats - an alliance of social democrats and former communists who hate the Kaczynskis more than most - are expected to vote with the government.
Poland is now politically more coherent. Gone are the teetering coalitions that threatened to collapse at the first whiff of scandal. Gone too from parliament are unsavoury extremist parties like the populist Self- Defence or rightwing League of Polish Families. Their vote collapsed from 18% at the last election two years ago to just over 3%. In its place is a parliament dominated by three factions: the liberal conservatism of Civic Platform, the nationalism of Mr Kaczynski's Law and Justice party, and the centre-left social democrats. If it looks like any other country, it is a measure of how far Poland has travelled.

Re: Elections in Poland

I'm happy to see Jaroslaw lose, but why quote the rubbishy, hypocritical Guardian with its sloppy journalistic standards?

"Jaroslav Kaczynski" - Grauniad spelling at it's beast!