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The Warsaw Voice » Politics » March 18, 2009
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Gearing Up For Euro Elections
March 18, 2009 By W.Ż.    
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Voters in Poland will go to the polls on Sunday, June 7 to elect 50 deputies in the European Parliament elections.

Opinion surveys show that two parties dominate Polish politics-the ruling Civic Platform (PO) and the opposition Law and Justice (PiS). The former is supported by 58 percent of those polled, while the latter by 27 percent. A further 5 percent say they would vote for the leftist opposition party Democratic Left Alliance (SLD), and 4 percent support the Polish People's Party (PSL), the junior partner in the governing coalition.

In the previous European Parliament elections that were held soon after Poland joined the European Union in May 2004, several popular politicians fielded by minor parties such as the League of Polish Families (LPR), Samoobrona, the Polish Social Democratic Party (SdRP), and the Democratic Party (PD), secured more seats in Brussels than was suggested by their approval ratings before the election. Today, the LPR, Samoobrona and the SdRP can count on no more than 2-3 percent of the vote, and the PD is supported by a paltry 1 percent of those surveyed.

It is anybody's guess how many European Parliament seats these parties will be able to secure this time. Even the SLD, which is the third strongest political party in Poland after the PO and PiS, says it is counting on no more than five seats in the next European Parliament, the same number it has now. The PO and PiS are expected to grab most of the seats currently held by smaller parties.

The PO, which has 14 deputies in the outgoing parliament, will field not only some of its best candidates but also politicians previously associated with other parties. For example, Danuta Hübner, EU commissioner for regional policy and minister for European affairs in the leftist government of Leszek Miller, will top the PO's election ticket in Warsaw. SLD politicians have lashed out at Hübner for changing her political colors.

Former prime minister Jerzy Buzek, one of the most prominent Polish members of the European Parliament, will probably be number one on the PO list in Silesia. The European People's Party-European Democrats (EPP-ED), the largest political group in the European Parliament, is pushing Buzek and Italian deputy Mario Mauro for the post of European Parliament president. After the June elections the group will choose one of them as their official candidate for the job, which is now held by Hans-Gert Pöttering.

Jacek Saryusz-Wolski, chairman of the European Parliament's Committee for Foreign Affairs, is preparing to run on the PO ticket.

PiS has yet to disclose its list of candidates. Commentators say these will likely include former justice minister Zbigniew Ziobro, and Michał Kamiński, a senior aide to President Lech Kaczyński who was a member of the European Parliament before he became secretary of state at the President's Office. Kamiński is expected to be number one on the PiS ticket in Warsaw, and Ziobro will probably open the list in Cracow.

To add to the pre-election mix, Libertas, an Euroskeptic party led by Declan Ganley, an Irish politician who opposes the Lisbon Treaty, opened a Warsaw office in early February and plans to field candidates for the European Parliament together with one or more Polish parties. For now it is unclear which Polish parties would be ready to team up with Libertas.
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