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From the editor
August 1, 2013   
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Winning a local election by a margin of 1,100 votes may not be particularly impressive in terms of national politics, but Poland’s biggest opposition party—Law and Justice (PiS)—has every reason to trumpet a major victory.

The PiS success in an election in the northern city of Elbl±g, its second or third such triumph in recent weeks, is a logical consequence of the latest swing in voter support for Poland’s political parties. Law and Justice is now top of the list with 35 percent, while the governing Civic Platform (PO) party has to settle for 26 percent.

“We’re heading for power,” enthusiastic PiS supporters have been proclaiming.

“Not so fast,” replies Prime Minister Donald Tusk, leader of the ruling party, pointing out that parliamentary elections will not be held until 2015, and that the PO still has plenty of time to return to the No. 1 spot.

Many nations want to believe they are unique in a positive sense, and many suspect they also have negative traits that are unique. Few other countries have suffered so much in their history and few nations have shown themselves to be so heroic. On the other hand, many people in Poland believe that they are more divided than other nations, with a greater incidence of hate speech in politics than elsewhere.

Nothing could be further from the truth. We are about average—fortunately (or unfortunately, as some would have it). In fact, we may be less hateful than others, and less divided than others.

Also, peaks and troughs for ruling coalitions are nothing unusual—it’s a trend that can be seen across the world. The Polish governing party’s 26 percent showing in the middle of its second term and amid a hard-hitting economic crisis is still quite a high level of approval. And defeats in local elections are the order of the day.

But accepting this situation instead of trying to change it will hardly open the door to a third term. If Donald Tusk is right when he says that a government led by PiS—which at the moment seems to be a realistic prospect—would be disastrous for Poland because it would derail the process of liberalizing the economy, then accepting the current state of affairs could be dangerous for the governing party. After all, governing parties being voted out of power is also nothing out of the ordinary.
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