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The Warsaw Voice » Comments » March 18, 2009
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From the NEWS editor
March 18, 2009   
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Erika Steinbach, a German parliamentary deputy and head of the German Federation of Expellees, has been something of a hate figure for many in Poland for years. She worked hard to earn her bad reputation through a string of controversial statements and political moves, such as voting against recognizing Poland's western border and opposing Polish membership in NATO and the European Union. Predictably, then, the Polish government protested strongly when Steinbach looked set to become a member of the board of a foundation that will oversee a center, planned in Berlin, documenting the expulsion of Germans from Poland and other countries of Eastern Europe after World War II. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has accepted Poland's arguments and so-at least for the time being-Steinbach will not become a member of the foundation's board. While some Polish politicians have interpreted this as a victory, others say the problem has merely been put on hold and is bound to reappear later.

Meanwhile, Polish politicians are preparing for European Parliament elections June 7. For political parties, the European elections will be a sounding board of their popularity 20 months after the current governing coalition came to power. The senior coalition partner, the Civic Platform (PO), craves a spectacular victory, while the opposition Law and Justice (PiS) is seeking confirmation that it still has hefty political clout. Smaller parties, including the fragmented leftists, mostly need some reassurance that they still have a role to play in Polish politics.

The economy is slowing down. The country's gross domestic product grew only 2.9 percent in the fourth quarter of last year, down from 4.8 percent in the third quarter. This is a clear sign that the global economic crisis is biting in Poland, experts say, though they add that the economy may regain momentum in the latter half of the year. According to the World Bank, Poland is in the best financial shape of the 12 countries that have joined the EU over the past five years. Though Poland's GDP growth has slowed, it is still second-highest in the entire EU, after Bulgaria.
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