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The Warsaw Voice » Comments » April 7, 2010
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From the Editor
April 7, 2010 By Witold Żygulski   
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"Perhaps we could both make it through to the second round of the presidential elections?" Bronisław Komorowski, speaker of the lower house of the Polish parliament, suggested jokingly after a public debate with his party colleague, Foreign Minister Radosław (Radek) Sikorski. The debate was the climax of the ruling Civic Platform (PO) party's internal elections to pick a candidate for this fall's presidential elections.
Komorowski's lighthearted mood is understandable. PO's opinion poll ratings are so high that the candidate anointed by the party as its presidential contender is virtually guaranteed to win the race to become head of state. The incumbent president, Lech Kaczyński, is not likely to win many votes from outside his Law and Justice (PiS) party, whose ratings are under 30 percent.
For the time being, all other candidates have the support of less than 10 percent of the public and there are no indications that any of them will be able to attract a larger share of the vote. As a result, it is quite likely that if PO decided, just for fun, to split temporarily into two groups-according to whether their party membership number is odd or even, for instance-with one group fielding Sikorski and the other Komorowski as their candidates in the presidential race, both would make it into the second round of this fall's elections.
The internal PO vote and the debate resembled the Soviet Union of the 1960s and 1970s when writers were allowed only to refer to a "battle between the good and the better." This was because of the official view that no real social conflicts, not to mention political ones, existed in the Soviet Union. Komorowski and Sikorski did not attack each other. Their remarks were not particularly cutting. Each announced, in a gentleman-like manner, that he had cast his own vote for his rival. Both said the losing contender would immediately start supporting the winner. Both tried to convince PO members and-due to the wide media coverage of the event-all Polish voters that there was no alternative to a PO candidate or the government of PO leader Donald Tusk. Tusk, who earlier decided not to run for president, although he would have been a dead cert, voiced support for both contenders like a good father who does not want to favor any son, even though he knows perfectly well which one has the bigger chances of winning.
Everything that voters saw, heard and read during the campaigning and the debate was a staged and largely predictable media spectacle. It's hardly surprising that the shapely legs of moderator and PO deputy Joanna Mucha were what made the greatest impression on internet users responding to a poll by Onet.pl, Poland's most popular website, during the final debate between Komorowski and Sikorski.
How long will PO be able to marginalize the opposition to such an extent that it can dominate the news agenda with its one-party political show? Will PO's political opponents manage to remind Polish voters that they exist? These are the questions for the months leading up to the presidential elections.
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