Election Campaign Commences

As developments unfold in Poland’s internal politics, citizens should start thinking about who to vote for in the upcoming parliamentary elections. The most likely voting date is October 21.Jaroslaw Kaczynski’s government, after several personnel changes and loss of coalition partners, seems unable to stick around less than just two years after the 2005 elections when Kaczynski’s Law and Justice party (PiS) claimed a major success with 151 of 460 seats in Sejm, lower chamber of the Polish Parliament.

To organize a government they decided to form coalitions with the populist Self-Defense party (Samoobrona), led by Andrzej Lepper, and Roman Giertych’s League of Polish Families (LPR).Civic Platform (PO), which after the elections was even reportedly negotiating a common government with PiS, became the strongest opposition party together with Democratic Left Alliance (SLD).Since then the situation has completely changed. Samoobrona and the LPR have left the coalition and the leader of the former now faces serious charges of corruption after an action of the Central Anticorruption Bureau formed by his own government. Lepper was already sentenced in several trials before becoming an MP. Since the coalition splintered, both Kaczynski and Donald Tusk, leader of the PO, have said their parties will support the earlier elections.

So will the SLD while the former members of the coalition want to form a parliamentary commission to investigate the influence of the secret service on politics. Voting on the self-dissolution of the Sejm is planned for Thursday. And if none of the parties change their minds, the elections will probably take place October 21.The latest polls clearly point to PiS as the favorite in the forthcoming elections. According to an article in Gazeta Wyborcza newspaper on September 4, Kaczynski’s party is expected to take 174 seats in the Sejm with PO, 149; LiD — an alliance of the SLD and the Liberal Democratic Party (PD), 75, and LiS ? a coalition of Samoobrona and LPR, 36.

But all PO members recall that two years ago they also led the polls and then unexpectedly lost in the voting. They are also aware that the campaigning this autumn may be full of negative PR. The opposition is also concerned about the six-week period when the PiS will excercise authority in the absence of the Sejm.The election campaign has already started. On billboards on the streets of every big city and on TV, people can see Jaroslaw Kaczynski and his party slogan “the rules oblige.”

In their campaign PiS politicians will try to underline achievements of their government as well as point to the PO as a “party of the rich.”How the PO will try to present itself remains unclear. Probably they will try to point to PiS as a threat to democracy and stick to their image as a responsible party that to a large extent concentrates on the Polish economy and ways to get politicians out of it.

A positive effect of this election may be stability in Sejm ? if the same parties will manage to secure their places in it. Since the collapse of communisim in 1989 the Police political scene has faced numerous changes. Maybe this model ? with one conservative, state-oriented right wing (PiS), one liberal, centrist (PO) and one socio-democratic (SLD) party ? will best suit political divisions between Poles.On the other hand it is hard to be optimistic about voter participation.

Previous elections have seen only 40 percent turnout The number could slip even further this time. Probably the most important task for the politicians will be to mount efforts to turn out their base.

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