Twin Peaks kaput. Reflections on Polish election

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As I was watching "Jasminum" in the IFI yesterday, millions of Poles in Poland and thousands here, in Ireland, were casting their votes in a life-and-death parliamentary election. A number of them were queuing besides the embassy of Poland in Ballsbridge for more than three hours. Rumor has it that some even borrowed children from the couples who had already cast their vote in order to avoid the queue. Some say the voting in the embassy didn't finish until after midnight.

Yet despite the fact that the voting procedure was not organized thoroughly and although only 21,000 Poles out of 63,000 living in Ireland (that is officially, although few doubt there are at least a couple of hundred thousand) registered to vote (14,000 in Dublin, with over 3,000 in Cork and Limerick each), Poland's liberal opposition defeated the Kaczynski twin tandem. WE WON!!!! :-D 44-31!!!! may go back to my country!!! - texted a Polish friend of mine yesterday, at around 11pm.

It looks like Poles had enough of former child film stars. During two years in power (Lech Kaczynski, the president, does not face an election until 2010), the conservative Kaczynskis have constantly tumbled into quarrels with the EU partners. Gay people started to flee Poland in fear of possible prosecution.

With 99% of votes counted, Donald Tusk's pro-EU party received more than 41% of the votes, while Mr Kaczynski's Law and Justice (PiS) got about 32%. Turnout was the highest recorded in Poland since communism fell in 1989 - 53,79%.

After the first results were announced, Mr Tusk expressed his gratitude to emigrants, because about 70 percent of them voted in favor of pro-western opposition. It looks like the campaigning before the election has paid off. More than 175,000 Poles registered to vote abroad in Sunday's election, well over three times as many as for the last ballot in 2005, official figures showed. In Britain and Ireland alone over 68,000 registered to vote. Some 31,000 registered in the United States.

Tusk's Civic Platform has promised lower taxes and a more business-friendly administration with closer ties to Europe. Poland certainly needs that.

Let's hope that this is the the end of Twin Peaks (as my Polish friend calls it) in Rzeczpospolita Polska. And hopefully Civil Platform will not take over the baton from other promising Eastern/Central European parties who after managing to come out on top in the elections failed to find dialogue within their team and with their political allies. Think Ukraine. Think Lithuania.

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seanachie - October 23, 2007 at 11:41 AM

Though the Swiss election results were thoroughly depressing, it was a consolation of sorts to see Poland rid itself of the horrendous Kacsynski brothers (though Łech will be there for another two years, his position is largely ceremonial). Poland, like many other countries, puts Ireland to shame by arranging for its citizens living abroad to exercise their right to vote. Irish people living outside the country are viewed by the powers-that-be as a troublesome constituency that might know a little bit too much about how things are done differently elsewhere. :(

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