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Poles face 'emotional' elections

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Poles face 'emotional' elections


This Sunday Poland will hold elections for its two houses of parliament. It is a dual between the two main parties: Civic Platform and Law and Justice.

To discuss Poland’s political landscape today, euronews spoke with the journalist Igor Janke, who is also writes editorials for the newspaper ‘Rzeczpospolita’, and was the founder of Salon24, a highly-popular commentary and information website.

Thomas Siemienski, euronews: “Poles will not only be voting for different political parties but for different visions of their country. What choice are they being given as far as Poland’s future?”

Igor Janke: “To tell you the truth, it’s a very emotional choice because the two main parties are not very different. The disagreement mainly centres around the question of whether Poland must be reformed in a more dynamic way, if its sovereignty must be heightened, including within the European Union, whether the country should be more autonomous in foreign policy, whether the time has come to take difficult decisions, for instance concerning the economy.”

euronews: “Well, seen from the outside, Poland seems like a sort of oasis, having successfully maintained its economy rather well. Why then has the electoral campaign at times resembled a life and death struggle, with the adversary perceived as if it threatened the country’s survival?”

Janke: “It is actually a struggle for the adversary’s political death. The reason behind this is the two camps’ common origin. There was a time when the two adversaries were good friends. Today they have become almost enemies — certainly political enemies. The clash between them deepened still more with the Smolensk disaster. This aroused, on one hand, a lot of conspiracy theories, and on another a lot of serious criticism against the government.”

euronews: “In the duel between Civic Platform and Law and Justice, Donald Tusk’s party has always been seen as the favourite. Suddenly, in recent public surveys, we see that his adversary, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, has very nearly caught up to him. How did this sudden balancing out of the two parties’ chances happen?”

Janke: “Civic Platform’s position is the most difficult because after four years in government, there is a widespread feeling that Tusk’s team has failed to resolve numerous problems. They say it themselves: ‘We have not done everything there was to do, but now we’re going to try to do better’. It’s not the sort of message that’s going to sweep the voters off their feet. Law and Justice are benefiting from this in quite a clever way, pointing out all the government’s faults. They are building up an image of Jaroslaw Kaczynski as the alternative national leader.”

euronews: “Just two parties dominate. Where is the Polish left? The Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) party shows six to eight percent of voter intentions. Are the Poles so much to the political right?”

Janke: “On one side the Poles are, yes, more conservative than most other people. The left is very clearly in a full-blown crisis. That’s partly due to their not having a strong leader in their midst. Thanks to that, Civic Platform has cleverly managed to win over part of the left’s voters, eroding the SLD still further.”

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