Another Battle for Britain

Having seemingly learned the lesson of the 2007 elections, Poland’s main presidential candidates are packing their political bags and heading to Britain in order to canvass expat voters.

As the preparations for the presidential elections, scheduled for 20 June, are running hot, the leading candidates, Bronisław Komorowski, Grzegorz Napieralski and Waldemar Pawlak will fight out their competition on British ground.

Komorowski, of the Civic Platform (PO) party and currently acting president of Poland, is to stage a huge campaign in order to win the political hearts of Polish immigrants living in Britain. The party is drawing on their 2007 experience, when Donald Tusk ran successfully for prime minister with a majority of the Polish votes from the UK. “Three years ago, we gained trust among immigrants, and I think we have managed to repay that trust,” Civic Platform’s Krzysztof Lisek, who organises the campaign, told TOK FM radio.

The leader of the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD), Grzegorz Napieralski, is also betting on Britain, as it has been a key battleground for Polish votes in 2007. Having forged tactic contacts with the British Labour party, the SLD will base its campaign in London. A dense network of polling booths have been bound, and the Internet and other media will promote the presidential campaign to convince the UK’s Polish voters.

Britain has seen an enormous increase of Central and Eastern European immigrants since the European enlargement of 2004. Between 2004 and 2009, Poles constituted the migrant majority in the UK, with more than 600,000 registered employees. That is why the electorate in economic exile is not to be neglected.

Waldemar Pawlak, deputy PM and leader of the conservative Polish People’s Party (PSL) is still faltering about a strategic trip to the United Kingdom. However, the option is being thoroughly considered by his campaigning team.

Apart from Britain, also Ireland and Germany, which hold considerable Polish migrant populations, are being taken into consideration for the electoral campaign. However, specific venues have not yet been confirmed yet.

The only presidential candidate who has decided not to campaign in Britain is Jarosław Kaczyński, chairman of the Law and Justice party (PiS) and twin brother of the tragically deceased President Lech Kaczyński. According to his party members, the time to extend the campaign to the UK is too short and therefore is not being considered by PiS. However, the national conservative force is expected to focus on the migrant population in the U.S., which, traditionally, is more inclined to support the party.

After President Lech Kaczyński’s death in the plane crash in April, the elections of the president of Poland, originally scheduled for autumn, have been brought forward to 20 June 2010 in accordance with the constitution’s timeline that dictates that elections must be held within 60 days under such circumstances.

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