By Hilary White
WARSAW, October 22, 2007 (LifeSiteNews.com) – This weekend’s Polish elections have resulted in the ousting of the Law and Justice party headed by Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski. The Parliamentary elections have left the Civic Platform party (Platforma Obywatelska or PO) with over 41% of the vote and 205 seats in the 460-seat Sejm lower house. The results place the party in a minority position to form a coalition government with Polish People’s Party, described as “centrist” by the BBC.
The head of the PO, Donald Franciszek Tusk, is expected to become the new Prime Minister and take a friendlier and less confrontational position with the European Union. Tusk is a supporter of a free market unrestricted by government who favours the country adopting the Euro. In televised debates, Tusk called Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski “incompetent” for his foreign policy that, he said, had strained Polish relations with Germany.
Tusk, described by some news agencies as a “social conservative”, got his start in politics as a youth in his native Gdansk and was involved in Solidarity, the political movement that resulted in the peaceful overthrowing of communism in 1989.
The outgoing Law and Justice party received 32.2 per cent of the vote, retaining 166 seats. Jaroslaw Kaczynski’s brother, Lech Kaczynski, will remain the country’s president with a term lasting until 2010. Although President Kaczynski retains veto power in parliament, his party does not have enough seats to ensure that the veto succeeds if other parties unite to overrule it.
The election also marks a defeat from Kaczynski’s former coalition partner, the strongly pro-life and pro-family League of Polish Families that had focused on retaining legal restrictions on abortion and protecting schoolchildren from homosexual propaganda in schools. The party’s failure to make the 5 per cent required to retain its position in the Sejm was blamed on the high turnout of younger voters who see close ties between the church and politics as a thing of the past.
The Civic Platform upholds the right to life for the unborn and retains a “conservative” opinion on homosexual activism. Gay activists were not enthusiastic about the PO win. The Associated Press quoted Robert Biedron, the head of the Warsaw-based Campaign Against Homophobia saying, “I wouldn’t be that optimistic because Civic Platform party leaders are not that pleasant toward the gay and lesbian minorities. I hope they will at least pretend that they are tolerant.”
EU parliament president Hans-Gert Poettering welcomed Civic Platform’s election victory as a “good signal,” saying, “One is always glad when committed Europeans will stand at the head of a new government.”
Martin Schulz, chief of the EU parliament’s Socialist group, told Reuters news service, “Poland’s future lies in working closely with their European friends rather than adopting anti-European positions at virtually every opportunity.”
The Kaczynski government had worried particularly that closer ties with the EU, including ratification of the Charter of Fundamental Rights, would end with the country being forced to ease restrictions on abortion. Poland continues to be a focus point of heavy European Union and United Nations pressure to “update” the country’s laws on abortion.
Reuters also quoted Graham Watson, leader of the Liberal group in the European Parliament saying, “Poland is turning a page from introspective, conservative nationalism to more open, liberal Europeanism.”
By Hilary White