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Election Race Kicks off
July 29, 2011   
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President Bronisław Komorowski has said that this year’s parliamentary elections will be held Oct. 9, but he has not yet formally announced the date of the ballot. This peculiar situation means that parties cannot officially start their election campaigns, although in practice these are already well under way. Billboards featuring smiling politicians from different parties and offering the public free legal advice, or asserting that the said politicians are ready to take up any challenge as a future head of government, have appeared on city streets. Parties’ press spokesmen insist that this is merely an “information campaign,” which parties have the right to pursue all year around, rather than an election campaign, which they do not.

The State Election Commission says it is “monitoring the situation” and is ready to punish those who start the election campaign too early. But few treat these declarations seriously. This fictitious state of non-campaigning will probably continue until early August, when Komorowski has to officially announce the election date.

Observers agree that the electioneering will be fierce, with parties seizing any opportunity to stick a knife into the backs of their political opponents.

Polls indicate that the ruling Civic Platform (PO) is likely to stay in power and become the first party to manage such a feat since the fall of communism in 1989. If these predictions come true, the economically liberal PO party will govern independently or in coalition for another parliamentary term. Some polls show that PO may win around 50 percent of the vote, which would enable the party to form a government on its own. If a coalition is needed, PO will most probably consider not only its existing junior coalition partner, the Polish People’s Party (PSL), but also the left-wing Democratic Left Alliance (SLD). Of course, PO politicians remain tight lipped on who their final choice of bedfellow will be.

One thing is certain—an alliance with Law and Justice (PiS), the only party which is now openly and consistently hostile to the government, is out of the question. PiS’s popularity ratings are too low for the party to be realistically able to plan on taking power. Observers say this will probably make its campaigning even more aggressive. One of the leading topics will certainly be last year’s crash of the Polish president’s plane near Smolensk, western Russia. PiS has recently published its own report on the disaster, which criticizes the government and claims it was mainly to blame for the crash. PiS has also accused the government of conducting an ineffective investigation into the disaster designed to placate Moscow. Meanwhile, PO has been delaying the publication of a special government commission’s report on the crash for almost a month, which makes the situation even more tense. This summer is going to be a very hot period in Polish politics.
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