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Governing Party Likely to be Ousted in Poland Elections


Poland's governing party is expected to be ousted in the country's first parliamentary elections since it joined the European Union last year. The governing party's popularity has fallen sharply, amid allegations of government corruption and social tension.

Two parties, the pro-business Civic Platform and the anti-corruption Law and Justice are favored to win Poland's parliamentary elections. Opinion polls indicate the two are likely to win more than 60 percent of voters, amid widespread anger over the governing party's policies.

The governing Democratic Left Alliance came to power in 2001, and led the country into the European Union. But the party soon lost public support over a series of corruption scandals and the government's failure to tackle an 18 percent unemployment rate.

Both the Civic Platform Party and the socially conservative Law and Justice Party support adopting the euro currency. Civic Platform front-runner Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz, a popular former governor of the Central Bank, says her party suggests radical tax reforms to solve the nation's social troubles.

"Countries, which adopted a more liberal approach are much more successful than those, which adopted a more Socialist regime in the past," she said. "Our program is not only for rich, but also for unemployed people.

"Because, in Poland, unemployment is now about 18 percent, so we like to reduce taxes and costs of labor," added Ms. Gronkiewicz-Waltz. "And we think that a flat tax will increase contribution to the budget, and this will mean more income, more revenues."

But analysts say it is unclear if that party will be able to function in a government with the Law and Justice Party. While Civic Platform campaigned on reducing state bureaucracy and instituting a 15 percent flat income tax, Law and Justice is determined to preserve many welfare-state protections, and says the flat tax would only help the rich.

It has urged the Civic Platform not to abandon its roots in the famous anti-Communist Solidarity trade union movement by introducing tax reforms too quickly. A senior member of the Law and Justice Party, Adam Bielan, says it is important to build on Solidarity traditions.

"The Civic Platform is a classical Liberal party," said Mr. Bielan. "Their proposal for a flat tax is not acceptable for us, because we think that 25 years after Solidarity was born, we need also some more Solidarity now.

"We are afraid that, with this proposal of the civic platform, some really populist parties could win the next general elections," he added. "So, it could be quite dangerous for the stability in Poland."

But voters have made clear they want both parties to go beyond the rhetoric and tackle corruption. The election for the 460-seat lower house of parliament, the Sejm, and the 100-seat Senate is Poland's fifth free parliamentary election since the end of communist rule in 1989.

Presidential elections will be held in two weeks.

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