Poland's early election - an uncertain outcome?
In five weeks time, two years earlier than scheduled, the Polish people elect a new Parliament. Opinion polls show it's going to be a close-run event between the two main parties. So is Poland in for a repeat of the scenario of two years ago when no party gained enough votes to form a majority government?
Comparisons with the 2005 elections are inevitable. At that time, the conservatives portrayed themselves as the advocates of a Poland of solidarity who will weed out corrupt networks, and the rival Civic Platform - as the liberals whose policies were to benefit the rich. This year Poles choose from the same two major parties by label but they know what the Law and Justice government looked like. And so they know instance, as Marcin Sobczyk of Interfax Central Europe in Warsaw stresses, that the anti-corruption drive is among Law and Justice's central themes.
How can one describe supporters of the liberal Civic Platform, which two years ago was narrowly defeated by Law and Justice? Jacek Kucharczyk of the Institute of Public Affairs.
"The person who is religious, a practicing Catholic but a bit skeptical about mixing religion with public affairs, rather conservative in general but at the same time rather happy about Polish transition and membership in the E.U. I don't think that economic liberalism plays a major role in the mindset of a Civic Platform voter."
It may indeed appear as a paradox of the political scene in Poland that in spite of the instability and scandals of the past two years, as well as allegations that prime minister Kaczynski used the secret services and the justice ministry to eliminate his former coalition partners from politics, Law and Justice is doing very well in the polls. Marcin Sobczyk explains.
"I think the country likes the fact that the leadership of that party very intelligently addresses the concerns of a large group of citizens who were abandoned by the previous governments and political parties in the 1990s. Their concerns were not addressed because they were not seen as valuable in terms of political support. Now the ruling party is addressing the concerns of the people who live in provincial regions and who believe that they have been hit by the post-1989 transition."
There is much to indicate that early parliamentary election will not bring lasting political stability. A left-wing alliance which includes ex-communists and former anti-communist Solidarity activists is almost sure to come third in the election. The trouble is that - at this stage at least - it is an unlikely coalition partner for either of the two main players.