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Early elections in Poland
Article added on October 8, 2007
  
With far more than the two-thirds majority requested by the constitution, the Polish Lower House voted to dissolve itself on Friday, paving the way for early elections. The dissolution of the Lower House automatically leads to the dissolution of the Senate. President Lech Kaczynski set the date for the early parliamentary elections for October 21, 2007 two years ahead of schedule.

377 of the 460 members of parliament voted for the dissolution of the Lower House in order to hold a snap elections. 54 MPs voted against it, mostly members from the radical peasant party Self-Defense (Samoobrona) and the national-catholic League of Polish Families, the former allies of the president and prime minister. 20 MPs abstained from voting.

In the Lower House, not only Law and Order, but also the oppositional Social Democrats and the Civic Platform of Donald Tusk were in favor of early elections. The coalition of the Kaczynski brothers has been unstable. The nationalist and populist government has been notoriously unstable, with Samoobrona minister Lepper beeing fired, reappointed and fired again.

Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski dismissed fifteen ministers facing votes of confidence in parliament which they were sure too lose. Several ministers have been reappointed deputy ministers, putting them beyond the reach of the opposition which now dominates the parliament. Among the reappointed deputy ministers are Anna Fotyga, the foreign minister - according to the Kaczynski twins, she is currently involved in important negotiations - as well as Zbigniew Ziobro, the justice minister, and Zyta Gilowska, the finance minister.

The President's twin brother, Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski, said that early elections “will create the chance for Poland to decide whether it wants to continue on its path of transition, however difficult, or whether it wants to follow the path of the rule of oligarchy.”

Jaroslaw Kaczynski forgot to mention that he and his brother are responsible for the current situation. After their narrow electoral victory in 2005, their Law and Justice party engaged in an improbable coalition with the populist right-wing League of Polish Families and the agrarian-populist Self-Defense party. To achieve a “moral revolution” and to eliminate the “corrupt network of ex-communists” with such allies was a tasteless joke.

The coalition failed in August 2007 after corruption allegations surfaced against Andrzej Lepper, the deputy prime minister, minister of agriculture and leader of Self-Defense.

The Kaczynski government has not achieved a lot. On one hand, the military intelligence agency has been abolished. On the other hand, the Central Bureau of Anti-Corruption has been created. It was this new agency which tried to set up an operation to prove that Andrzej Lepper is corrupt. Allegedly, the minister was warned at the last minute and the operation failed. Law and Justice is not only advocating an unhealthy mix of anti-communist paranoia, witchhunts and populism, but also using methods reminding everyone of communist times.

The Kaczynski twins have angered many European partners with their nationalist and populist positions. One of the low points of recent months was their argument that Poland should get a larger European representation because too many Poles had been killed in the Second World War. At the same time, Poland is the country currently profiting most from joining the European Union. Hopefully, enough Poles will remember this on October 21.

The Kaczynski government has not undertaken a lot of economic and structural reforms. Many observers argue that the Cabinet Kaczynski cannot take credit for the healthy economic situation. GDP growth was almost 6% in 2006, mostly driven by private consumption and investment. Growth together with emigration have led to a lower unemployment rate. The fiscal situation is improving.

In recent opinion polls, the Law and Justice party and the Civic Platform run head-to-head. It remains to be seen whether the upcoming elections of October 21 will lead to a more stable government.









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