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The Warsaw Voice » From the News Editor » October 29, 2010
From the News Editor
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Bloody Tuesday Rocks Politics
October 29, 2010   
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The iconoclastic politician Janusz Palikot, who is featured extensively in this issue of The Warsaw Voice, recently said that “there will be bloodshed” in Poland’s political life. It took only days for this grim prophecy to come true. A 62-year-old assailant stormed into the regional headquarters of the opposition Law and Justice (PiS) party in £ód¼, killing one man and seriously wounding another. The incident shocked the public and has drawn the most media attention since the tragic crash of the presidential plane near Smolensk April 10.

Is the killer sane? This question is being asked most often now. If not, then the tragedy in £ód¼ will go down in history merely as an act of a madman. But if psychiatrists—who will certainly have to take care to correctly diagnose the killer—decide that the man is of sound mind and knew what he was doing it will be a dismal pronouncement for Polish public life. If knives and guns begin to be used in the heated debate between the government and the opposition... it is hard to even think of such a scenario.

The £ód¼ tragedy has triggered comments from politicians of all persuasions. Unsurprisingly, the sharpest words came from PiS politicians. The party’s leader Jaros³aw Kaczyński said the murder was the effect of a months-long “campaign of hatred” against PiS and himself being waged by Prime Minister Donald Tusk and the ruling Civic Platform (PO) party. According to eyewitness accounts, the assailant was shouting insults against him and told policemen he hated PiS and wanted to kill Kaczyński, but his “gun was too small.” Kaczyński said cases of physical aggression against those supporting the opposition had taken place before. One example, he said, were attempts to beat people picketing in front of the President’s Palace in the defense of the symbolic cross commemorating the victims of the plane crash near Smolensk.

But a closer look reveals that Kaczyński himself uses the highly provocative language of confrontation on every occasion. He and his close associates do not shy away from sharply attacking the PO. Sociologists are asking which of the parties to the conflict is doing more to add to the atmosphere of verbal aggression, which—as the developments in £ód¼ show—has started to turn into physical aggression.

Will anyone be able to calm emotions in Polish public life? Will any voice of reason have a chance to break through the stream of mutual accusations and insults? There is little room for optimism. The problem is compounded by the ongoing campaign ahead of the local government elections. Can the £ód¼ tragedy influence their course? We will know in a month.
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