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Poland - Presidential Election

Presidential election in Poland, a round up with one week to go

Presidential election in Poland, a round up with one week to go

17/10/2005 - D-7 - 2nd round

Last week was marked by Jacek Kurski's "revelations"; Kurski is a member of Lech Kaczynski's electoral office (PiS). Accusations were made against Donald Tusk's (PO) grandfather who is said to have served in the German army. "Reliable sources say that Donald Tusk's grandfather enroled voluntarily into the Wehrmacht during the Second World War," declared Jacek Kurski. The accusation of collaboration is particularly ignominious in a country that still suffers the after effects of the war and where five to six million citizens (including three million Jews) died. "This goes beyond the limits of decency," replied the Civic Platform candidate. "Anyone who lifts a hand against the dead are not worthy of honour and power" he added saying that both of his grandfathers had been members of the Polish resistance against the Nazis and had passed a part of the war in the concentration camps. Lech Kaczynski repudiated his colleague emphasising, "I am not responsible for this type of campaign and I shall accept the consequences, I shall ask for forgiveness." Following this scandal, Jacek Kurski apologised to Donald Tusk but without however acknowledging the scandalous nature of what he had said; he has now been excluded from Lech Kaczynski's electoral office and will be called upon to answer for his declarations before the leadership of the PiS party.

Although both candidates belong to the right, they do however put forward two very different visions of the future. Donald Tusk is a pro-European liberal whilst Lech Kaczynski is a conservative Catholic, a eurosceptic and a supporter of a strong, social State. "The vision of a united Poland is for most Poles the most attractive prospect rather than a liberal experience," he declared. "Small town Poland with its small villages is conservative, the big cities however are not afraid of change," analyses the Director of the Public Affairs Institute Lena Kolarska-Bobinska, adding that "the rift will be amplified during the second round (...) Lech Kaczynski will point to his links with the Catholic faith, national symbols, he will address traditional Poland. Donald Tusk will refer to a Poland that is open to the future, to the young."

According to the latest poll undertaken on 14th and 15th October by OBOP amongst 1,500 individuals and published on 16th October, Donald Tusk is due to win 58% of the vote in the second round that will take place on 23rd October next versus 42% for Lech Kaczynski. It appears that Jacek Kurski has seriously compromised his leader's chances of winning the second round in the wake of his shattering declarations. "Donald Tusk's advantage over Lech Kaczynski is growing at a regular pace. The Poles confirmed that they do not want one single party, or a single family holding power in Poland. Their suspicions were not quelled after the appointment of Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz as Prime Minister. They have followed their natural instinct of supporting the victors and it is Donald Tusk who won the first round of the presidential election," analyses Aleksander Smolar, president of the Batory Foundation. A PBS poll reveals that half of Marek Borowski's supporters (Social Democrat Party, SDPL) are about the vote Donald Tusk (48%), versus 29% for Lech Kaczynski. However 37% of Andrzej Lepper's (Autodefence of the Republic, S) say they are in favour of the PiS candidate versus 46% for the PO.

Marek Borowski maintained that he would not support Lech Kaczynski whose project he thinks threatens democracy and freedom of thought in Poland. The Social Democrat Party leader said that he was prepared to ask his supporters to vote for Donald Tusk if the latter committed himself to preventing the PiS's constitutional project and explain the role his party played in the "defamation" campaign against Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz, the candidate supported by the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) who withdrew from the presidential race on 14th September in "protest against the slanderous campaign" that he and his family were the victim of. For his part, Andrzej Lepper sent a letter to both of the candidates in the second round in which he asks them to present their vision of "Social Poland" saying that he would call to vote in favour of the "most social" candidate otherwise to vote "blank" if neither succeeded in convincing him.

When the present President of the Republic, Aleksander Kwasniewski was interviewed about his preference he answered that he supported the candidate who was not in favour of radical "anti communism", which is implicit support for Donald Tusk. "I shall listen to both Donald Tusk and Lech Kaczynski. But in any case I shall end up by saying which candidate I feel closest to. I cannot imagine for example that a future President of Poland would not be concerned by our position within the EU and NATO, and that he should not succeed in getting on with our neighbours," declared Aleksander Kwasniewski in an interview with the daily Rzeczpospolita on 10th October last saying however that "Donald Tusk's Poland will certainly be different from Lech Kaczynski's. But it will be Poland in spite of everything and there is no reason to be alarmed." As for former President (1990-1995), Lech Walesa, he confirmed in the newspaper on the same day his support for Donald Tusk. "Poland needs a certain amount of balance that Donald Tusk guarantees. It is obvious that President Lech Kaczynski and Jaroslav Kaczynski's government will not be able to keep their promises and all the less so since their base just wants to take advantage of power," he maintained.
Publishing Director: Pascale JOANNIN
The authors
Corinne Deloy
Author of the European Elections Monitor (EEM) for the Robert Schuman Foundation and project manager at the Institute for Political Studies (Sciences Po).
Fondation Robert Schuman
Other stages
2nd roundD-7