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From the Editor
August 2, 2010   
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Bronisław Komorowski won a million more votes than his rival, Jarosław Kaczyński, and it’s time to consider how Poland will change after the presidential election. Let’s just hope that everyday life won’t be dominated by this fall’s local elections and next fall’s parliamentary elections.

Analysts as well as politicians from the victorious Civic Platform (PO) agree that the time of political alibis is over. After the last parliamentary elections in 2007, the coalition government of the PO and the Polish People’s Party (PSL) faced several presidential vetoes that prevented laws passed by both houses of parliament from coming into effect. One example was a law designed to reform the public healthcare system. As a result, an element of self-censorship appeared in the work of the government and the Sejm, the lower house—bills likely to be vetoed by President Lech Kaczyński weren’t drafted at all. This gave the PO an argument that it could use against all those who criticized the party for not pushing enough for reform—the president was to blame.

That obstacle has now disappeared. Paraphrasing a slogan from 20 years ago, the PO can say “our president, our prime minister” and get down to work.

Its monopoly on power will last at least about 12 months—until the next parliamentary elections. It also has two motives to be active: the country’s interests and the party’s interests. There’s no question that Poland needs reforms, those stemming from normal development processes and financial problems that our country cannot avoid when everyone else is having them. If the PO wants to fill most of the seats in the future Sejm, it has to prove its ability to run the country efficiently when it has the chance. In next year’s elections, the psychological factor that helped the PO greatly until now—voters’ fear that the Law and Justice (PiS) party might return to power and continue pursuing its “4th Republic” —will be weaker. First of all, this will be because memory tends to fade quickly, and second because PiS can create the impression that it has changed.

PO politicians are aware of this and are signaling their readiness to face up to the challenge. At the same time, though, they are suggesting that any reforms cannot be revolutionary, first because there is no need and second because society has reached a level where it prefers evolution to revolution.

Regardless of the nature and pace of the changes, the PO will be held accountable for the results. This means the party faces a tough test in which facts, and not words, will count.
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