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POLAND


 

 

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Key Economic Data 
 
  2003 2002 2001 Ranking(2003)
GDP
Millions of US $ 209,563 187,670 176,300 24
         
GNI per capita
 US $ 5,270 4,570 4,230 71
Ranking is given out of 208 nations - (data from the World Bank)

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Update No: 123 - (31/08/07)

Elections looming 
Poland edged closer to snap elections on August 9th, after President Lech Kaczynski and opposition leader Donald Tusk agreed that a vote was 'inevitable' in the coming months to help halt a government crisis. Markets have been unmoved by the turmoil, judging an election is unlikely to deliver worse leadership and economic policy for the EU's largest former communist state. Things could hardly be worse.

An early poll raises the prospect of a government led by the economically liberal Civic Platform (PO) party, which leads in the polls and is favoured by investors. 'President Lech Kaczynski and Civic Platform leader Donald Tusk both consider that given the current situation, elections are inevitable in the autumn,' presidential spokesman Michael Kaminski told a news conference. 

'I can't imagine that anyone responsible in Poland could have an interest in stringing-out this totally unbearable situation of infighting, aggression, conflict, sackings and secrets,' AFP cited Tusk as saying. 'October is the realistic date.'

Poles last headed to the ballot box in 2005 and the next elections are not formally due until 2009. But Tusk has said a snap vote is the 'only way to clear the air', given the breakdown of the conservative-led coalition.

Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kacznyski, the president's identical twin, has seen his three-party coalition disintegrate since he sacked deputy premier Andrzej Lepper over corruption allegations, which Lepper denies and which have not been backed up in public. Lepper's populist, rural-based Samoobrona (Self-Defence) movement subsequently announced it was pulling out of the coalition, which is steered by the Kaczynskis' conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party and also includes the far-right League of Polish Families (LPR).

Both Kaczynskis have said several times in recent weeks that they support a snap election, although they have wavered over whether to wait until early next year.

Their Law and Justice party trails the Civic Platform by around 10 percentage points in opinion polls, but possess a party machine that made up as much as 20 points to win in 2005. 

If the two leading parties agree to an election, they easily have enough votes between them to wind up parliament.

But analysts remain wary of judging the tactics of the Kaczynskis, who have threatened to force fresh elections on several occasions over the last 18 months, before backing down.

Poland hit by Watergate-style scandal, opposition alleges
A former Polish deputy prime minister and education minister in the cabinet of right-wing Law and Justice (PiS) Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski on August 28th accused him of using the secret services to eavesdrop on coalition partners. 

'Wiretapping colleagues, using these wiretaps for political goals, in my opinion trying to arrange the detention or arrest of government colleagues - this is not the kind of activity which can be included in the canon of any code of conduct, aside from the gangsters' code,' Roman Giertych, leader of the right-wing League of Polish Families (LPR) opposition party, told reporters in Warsaw. 

'We have a Polish Watergate...,' Giertych said, referring to the 1970s political scandal in the United States where Republican President Richard Nixon was suspected of covering up spying on political rivals. The allegations ultimately led to Nixon's resignation. 

Giertych's high-impact accusation followed a closed session of parliament where legislators heard the confidential testimony of Poland's ex-Interior Minister Janusz Kaczmarek. 

Opposition parties are calling for special parliamentary commissions to be set up to investigate allegations that Premier Kaczynski used the secret services, the Justice Ministry and the Anti-Corruption Bureau to try to compromise political rivals. 
Kaczynski has denied any wrongdoing, but clearly does not want to see parliament probe the damaging allegations. 

Despite his PiS trailing the opposition liberal Civic Platform (PO) in recent opinion polls, Kaczynski is pushing for the dissolution of parliament and a fresh election as early as October 21. 

The whirlwind of controversy comes as legislators are preparing to vote September 7 on a motion to dissolve parliament, which if successful, will spark an election. 
Should the motion fail to pass, Kaczynski has vowed to tender his government's resignation. Under the constitution, the prime minister's identical twin brother would then have three attempts at creating a viable government before being required to call a fresh election. 
 

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