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Changes in Poland and Ukraine

  • October 23rd, 2007
  • Posted by 7thmin

donald-tusk.jpgVoters in Poland replaced their government at elections on Sunday (21.10.07), putting an end to the contentious rule of the twin brothers — Jaroslaw Kaczynski as Prime Minister with his identical twin Lech as President.

In neighbouring Ukraine leaders of two parties associated with the 2004-5 Orange Revolution were close to settling terms for a government coalition, after successfully contesting elections on 30.9.07.

POLAND DECIDES DECISIVELY

The outcome in Poland was very clear; in a heavy turn-out — the biggest since the 1989 election which removed the country’s communist party from power – electors voted in the centre-right Civic Platform party.

Its leader, Donald Tusk, now has 209 seats in the 460-member parliament, and plans to form a coalition with the smaller Peasants Party to obtain a majority of ten seats.

The election removed from office the outgoing right-wing Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kacznynski, who with his brother had imposed a nationalistic and socially conservative policy.

They had come to power at elections in 2005 with the largest voting bloc in parliament, but with only 29% of the votes in a weak voter turn-out of some 40%.

It was a shaky base for the set of forthright policies they took on: resisting environmental goals and constitutional changes in the European Union, often going against the strongest consensus of other member countries; dissenting also from liberal EU positions on homosexual rights or abortion; and quarrelling on various points with the neighbours, Germany or Russia.

Homespun views expressed by the twins frequently raised a laugh when brought up by journalists at the European Commission for comment, and this week Reuters was quoting a Polish high school student as expressing the views of many in the younger generation: “I hope Poland won’t look stupid any more.”

The Kacznyynski-led coalition government broke up this year in a dispute over the handling of a corruption inquiry, and objections to the then-Prime Minister’s “personal” style of leadership.

Mr Tusk shows signs of taking off the “New Europe” badge – the Bush administration term for former communist states bucking the EU majority to go into the 2003 war in Iraq.

He has signalled he will withdraw the Polish military contingent, some 900 troops from Iraq, by early next year; and while he does not plan to block the installation of American anti-missile facilities in Poland, against strong objections from Russia, he has spoken of renegotiating the deal with the United States.

The Kacznynski brothers’ political party, Law and Justice, still came in second in this week’s voting, and President Lech Kacznynski has another three years in office – to 2010. He says he will ensure the “account ability” of the new team in power.

The third main party, the Democratic Left Alliance, is made up of inheritors of the former communist party and parts of the Solidarity free trade union movement.

DECISION-MAKING IN UKRAINE

Leaders of the Ukraine’s Orange Revolution have been mending fences in order to remove the incumbent Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych and form a new government of their own.

The head of one “Orange” group, Yulia Tymoshenko, has the biggest bloc in parliament since elections at the end of last month; and can manage a working majority of two in coalition with the second group, headed by President Viktor Yushchenko.

The two “Orange” parties, aligned towards the European Union and the West, split and lost office at elections held in August last year – making way for the Russian-orientated Yanukovych.

Fresh elections were called after a constitutional stand-off between the Prime Minister and President earlier this year.

Reference:

EUAustralia Online, “Vote Watching: Ukraine and Poland”, 15.8.07

Reuters, “Youth vote helped swing Polish election”, 22.10.07. www.reuters.com/ ,(23.10.07)

Wikipedia, “Ukraine Parliamentary Election 2007”, http:/en.wikipedia.org …,19.10.07, (23.10.07)

Picture: Prime Minister elect Donald Tusk, www.epp-ed.eu

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