„Bruising for twins in Polish council elections”, Global Post

28 listopada 2006 r.


Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party suffered a local election bruising as urban voters signalled dissatisfaction with the radical programme of Jaroslaw Kaczynski, prime minister, and Lech, his twin and president. 

The highest-profile race was for the mayor of Warsaw, won by former central banker Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz of the opposition Civic Platform party, who defeated Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz, the former Law and Justice (PiS) prime minister by 53 per cent to 47 per cent. 

Mr Marcinkiewicz is one of the country’s most popular politicians but being saddled with an increasingly unpopular party label proved to be an insurmountable obstacle. 

Eryk Mistewicz, a political consultant, said: „In Warsaw there was a referendum on the government. It wasn’t so much about the candidates but a referendum for or against Law and Justice.” 

Mr Marcinkiewicz was replaced by Jaroslaw Kaczynski after polls showed he was more popular than the twins and began taking decisions independently, particularly choosing a new finance minister without first vetting the candidate. 

The party did badly in most of the larger cities. Out of 16 cities holding second round votes on Sunday, PiS won only three, while Civic Platform won nine and unaffiliated candidates took 21. 

In the first round of local elections two weeks ago, Civic Platform and its Peasants’ party allies did well in provincial assemblies while PiS did better in smaller towns in the east, the poorest region, where the satisfaction with the change to capitalism is the lowest. 

That vote also saw a collapse in support for the two populist parties that are part of the governing coalition. Wojciech Wierzejski, deputy leader of the nationalist League of Polish Families, got only 0.3 per cent of the vote in his run for Warsaw mayor, being bested by a candidate of the Goofs and Elves party who campaigned in an orange cone hat. 

The second round vote also saw the tentative beginnings of an electoral alliance between Civic Platform, which has its roots in the Solidarity labour union and the anti-communist opposition, and the ex-communist Left Democrats. Leftwing voters moved to Ms Gronkiewicz-Waltz in Warsaw, while Civic Platform voters supported the leftwing candidate in Cracow against the PiS contender. 

Jaroslaw Kaczynski, who has made it his mission to rid Poland of all traces of its communist past, warned after the elections that „old times are returning”. 

The results are likely to mean that politics will stabilise as the government and its supporters see few advantages in dissolving parliament, said Mr Mistewicz. „The coalition will last as long as Jaroslaw Kaczynski wants it to last,” he said.

Jan Cienski