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The Warsaw Voice » Politics » August 2, 2010
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PO Wins Monopoly on Power
August 2, 2010   
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Bronisław Komorowski won the second round of Poland’s presidential elections July 4, cementing his ruling Civic Platform (PO) party’s grip on power and raising expectations that the government will push through long-delayed reforms.

Jarosław Kaczyński, head of Law and Justice (PiS), the main opposition party, finished a strong second, with a much better result than polls had predicted. He called on his supporters to prepare for local elections this autumn and parliamentary elections next year.

The State Electoral Commission announced on the evening of July 5 that Komorowski had won 53.01 percent of the vote in the second round while Kaczyński was backed by 46.99 percent of voters. Voter turnout was 55.31 percent, higher than experts had predicted. Turnout was highest in large cities: 66.44 percent in Warsaw, 61.69 percent in Cracow, and 60.35 percent in Poznań.

Immediately after hearing the first unofficial results, Komorowski thanked his supporters and his colleagues from the PO, especially Prime Minister and party leader Donald Tusk.

Reforms at last?
Tusk, visibly relieved at the election results, congratulated Komorowski and vowed the PO would now implement its long-promised package of reforms that had been vetoed over the past three years by the late President, Lech Kaczyński, the twin brother of Law and Justice leader Jarosław Kaczyński.

The elections had been called early following the death of Lech Kaczyński and dozens of top officials when his presidential plane crashed April 10 in western Russia.

The issue of cooperation between the president, government and parliament was a frequent topic during the election campaign, and also one of the elements of Polish political life that interested the international community. The congratulations Komorowski received upon his election contained many references to the stabilization of Polish politics.

Most European Union leaders believe Poland under President Komorowski is likely to be a more predictable and stable country than in recent years.

“Komorowski will be a president of harmony and reconciliation, a reliable and credible representative of Poland,” said Jerzy Buzek, President of the European Parliament. He added in a statement that Komorowski would guarantee cooperation with the government, which was essential in view of Poland’s six-month turn at the rotating EU presidency, starting July 1, 2011.

After losing in the second round, Jarosław Kaczyński congratulated Komorowski on his victory and then promised further political campaigning which, the PiS leader said, would soon intensify. Kaczyński said now that the PO could not use the presidential veto as an excuse, it would finally become clear whether the party really wanted to introduce reforms and whether it was able to take steps to safeguard the country from the economic crisis. Kaczyński did not conceal his skepticism over whether the “drawers full of draft laws” that PO leaders have been talking about for months really existed.

Doubts were also voiced by opposition left-wingers. Grzegorz Napieralski, leader of the opposition Democratic Left Alliance (SLD), came third in the first round of the elections, attracting almost three times more support than polls several months earlier had predicted. Though the campaign and elections are over, Napieralski is continuing to travel around Poland to canvass support for his policies.

Left-wing politicians are counting on a strong showing in the local government elections, which should be held in the fall, and then in parliamentary elections next year.

PiS Hopeful
PiS believes it can win a majority in parliament and govern either alone or in a coalition with the Polish People’s Party (PSL) or even the SLD. Meanwhile, the PO wants to consolidate its grasp on power or even win enough support to form the next government on its own. If the PO won, it would become the first party since the end of communism in 1989 to stay in government for a second consecutive term.

The exact date of the 2011 parliamentary elections is not certain yet. Due to Poland’s upcoming EU presidency, they could be held earlier than expected, in the spring rather than the fall, so that Poland can take over the rotating presidency of the EU with a new parliament and government in place rather than in the middle of an election campaign. A decision should be reached in the coming weeks.
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