A week to go before Poles go to the polls in close-fought election

Photo: CTK

In a week's time Poles will be electing a new parliament. They will be choosing between seven parties and blocks. Who are the main players and what is the real choice facing the Polish man-in-the-street?

Photo: CTK
The three main contenders in the parliamentary race are the conservative Law and Justice of prime minister Kaczynski, the opposition, liberal Civic Platform and the LiD grouping, a somewhat strange alliance of ex-communists and left-leaning Solidarity activists of the 1980s. Marek Borowski, one of its leaders, does not think his coalition is an odd one:

"This is the coalition of people who fought against the oppressive regime and of those who changed the political system at the Round Table [in 1989]. Now that we have the government which neglects democratic rules we feel we should act together."

Both the LiD of Borowski and former president Kwasniewski, and the main opposition party, the Civic Platform, claim that under the banner of fighting corruption, the conservative government has abused the state apparatus for political purposes. How can one explain therefore the ruling party's good prospects for electoral success.

Political commentator for the Fakt daily Lukasz Warzecha says that voters normally don't analyse very deeply what happens in politics. If they see oligarchs being arrested or apprehended by special services they are happy:

Photo: CTK
"They listen to [Prime Minister] Jaroslaw Kaczynski saying that there are no sacred cows in Poland and that everybody can be brought to court for something - they think, yes, this is a tough guy. This is all about image and Law and Justice has succeeded in the past two years in creating its image of a very tough party, a party that will give us a new clean slate."

According to Mariusz Ziomecki of Superstacja TV, Poles will be making a highly difficult decision in this election:

"There is a group that attempts to accelerate Poland's accession to unifying Europe and there's a strong conservative resistance. Both these forces have their political representation. Some of them are looking at the EU with fear and hesitation and are concerned about our national identity, our customs and the way of life. Other dislike the status quo and dream of making Poland more like France or Germany."

The conservative Law and Justice and the liberal, pro-European Civic Platform are running almost neck-and-neck in the polls. The LiD leftist coalition is in third place in the polls, well ahead of all the other parties. Most analysts think that, whatever the outcome of the vote, building a stable government coalition may prove as difficult as two years ago.