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Poland: 'Terrible twins' suffer election defeat
Right-wing populist government defeated
P OLAND'S RIGHT-wing populist government headed by Jaroslaw Kaczynski, twin brother of the Polish President, has been ousted following last Sunday's snap parliamentary elections. The ruling Law and Justice Party (PiS) lost the parliamentary elections in what was seen by most people as a plebiscite for or against the rule of the Kaczynski twins.
Paul Newbery, CWI Poland
The opposition neo-liberal party, Civic Platform (PO), won with a massive 41.5% of the vote against 32.1% for PiS.
The turnout for this election was 54%, which was up by 14% compared to the last parliamentary elections two years ago. This is a result of the determination of a large part of Polish society to remove Kaczynski from power and reflects a growing polarisation in Poland. The percentage points do not tell the whole story. Civic Platform's vote soared from 2.8 million to 7.4 million. The Law and Justice party increased its vote by half - almost 1.9 million ballots - to 5.18 million.
Two other parties managed to get into parliament. The Liberals and Democrats (SLD and SDRP), a coalition of the post-Stalinist social democrats and a smaller liberal party received 13.1% of the vote. The Polish Peasants' Party (PSL) got 8.9%.
The two junior coalition parties in the PiS government, the populist farmers' party Self-Defence (1.5%) and the ultra-right League for Polish Families (1.3%) were soundly thrashed.
The Polish Labour Party, ignored by the media and excluded by the main opinion pollsters, received 1%.
Tens of thousands of Poles also voted in Britain, Ireland and other countries. In Britain over 60% voted for PO, in Scotland the figure was a staggering 75%. The majority of those voting for PO were voting negatively against PiS and Kaczynski and what they see as a return to the Dark Ages, where religious fundamentalism, witch-hunts and xenophobia are the order of the day.
In contrast to PiS, many, particularly younger voters, see PO as a modern European party. However, PO is a neo-liberal party which is pro-big business and pro-European Union. In power it will attempt to introduce a flat rate income tax and privatise the remainder of the state sector, as well as cutting state expenditure. This is why these elections are not a victory for Polish workers, who still have no representation in parliament. Poland has gone out of the frying pan and into the fryer.
Whilst PO now holds 60% of the seats in the Senate, it does not have a majority in the lower house and will be forced to form a coalition with PSL. However, whether PSL will manage to water down the new government's neo-liberal agenda remains to be seen.
In The Socialist 1 November 2007:
Environment and socialism
Workplace news and analysis
Socialist Party news and analysis
International socialist news and analysis
National Shop Stewards Network
Workplace news and analysis