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The Warsaw Voice » Politics » December 30, 2014
Politics & Society
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Election Year Begins
December 30, 2014   
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Poland has entered an election year, with a presidential election in the spring and a parliamentary ballot in the fall.

As far as the spring vote is concerned, Poland is unlikely to get a new president because the incumbent, Bronisław Komorowski, is far ahead in the polls and the only question is whether or not there will be a second round if he fails to win more than 50 percent of the vote in the first round.

The parliamentary elections are a different story. Anything is possible, from a third term for the current governing coalition of the Civic Platform (PO) and the Polish People’s Party (PSL) to a raft of other scenarios.

In the latest local elections, the opposition Law and Justice (PiS) party finished ahead of the PO for the first time in years. Even though the PO-PSL coalition has retained power in most provinces owing to the PSL’s unexpectedly high showing, it is not at all certain that the two parties will form the new government together after the parliamentary elections. The one thing that seems certain is that political rhetoric will become increasingly caustic in the months ahead.

Meanwhile, lower house Speaker Radosław Sikorski, who was previously foreign minister, has come under fire in the wake of alleged irregularities surrounding the trips he made in his private car as a parliamentary deputy. The opposition is pressing for Sikorski’s resignation and Sikorski seems to be doing his best to avoid giving a clear explanation. If the PiS-led opposition managed to force Sikorski out of his post it would deal the government a major blow in the run-up to the elections. But that looks highly unlikely, at least for now.

In another tug-of-war, PiS leader Jarosław Kaczyński has launched an unprecedented attack on the judiciary. On Dec. 13, PiS staged a patriotic demonstration in Warsaw to mark the anniversary of martial law imposed by the communists in Poland in 1981. In a speech to the crowd, Kaczyński lashed out at judges who had examined protests submitted by his party after the local elections. According to Kaczyński, the local elections had been rigged and President Komorowski arranged for the legal protests to be rejected when he met with the heads of Poland’s Supreme Court, Supreme Administrative Court and Constitutional Court recently. Kaczyński said Komorowski’s meeting with the senior judges was an attempt to influence courts and “terrorize” ordinary judges.

In response, the heads of the three courts issued a joint statement in which they described Kaczyński’s words as “an unheard-of attack on judicial authorities by a European politician aspiring to exercise executive power.”

Members of the National Judiciary Council and other prominent lawyers have made similar comments, describing Kaczyński as an “exceptional danger to democracy.” Kaczyński, meanwhile, has no intention of taking back his words or apologizing. This comes as no surprise because verbal aggression has been one of his political weapons for years.
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