News / Europe

As Poland Mourns, Politics Looms in Background

Poland is deep in mourning for President Lech Kaczynski, his wife and 94 other prominent military officials and civilians, killed in a plane crash Saturday in western Russia.  But amid preparations for a state funeral, questions about elections and succession loom in the background.

No one in Warsaw wants to talk politics when Poles by the thousands - from government ministers to average citizens - have been lining up to pay their last respects to President Lech Kaczynski and his wife, Maria.  

Words like tragedy and catastrophe are most often uttered when people talk about last Saturday's plane crash that killed the couple along with so many other senior military officials, lawmakers and prominent civilians.

So it was no surprise that Speaker of Parliament and interim President Bronislav Komorowski did not rush to announce a date for new elections.

Mr. Komorowski said all political party representatives agreed the date for new elections would not be announced until April 21 - after the period of mourning.

Poland's Constitution mandates Mr. Komorowski take over as interim president, but he had already been designated by the ruling Civic Platform party as a presidential candidate in elections scheduled for later this year.  He was to run against President Kaczynski, who was expected to seek another term from the opposition Law and Justice Party.

Now elections will be held before the end of June, and political analyst Edmund Wnuk-Lipinski of Civitas College in Warsaw says this puts Mr. Komorowski in a difficult position.

"Whatever he does will certainly be evaluated in political terms and in terms of his candidacy to the highest office.  That is why he has to be very cautious," said Wnuk-Lipinski.

There is much talk that former prime minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the twin brother of the late president, may run for office in his brother's place.  They were voted into office when Lech won the presidency in 2005 and Jaroslaw became prime minister from 2005 to 2007.

The brothers were widely viewed as divisive, seen by supporters as upholding conservative, nationalist and traditional values, while critics accused them of pandering to xenophobia.  

A Jaroslaw Kaczynski candidacy is not out of the question says Poland Institute for Public Affairs Director Jacek Kucharczyk.

"What we do know is that before this air crash, Jaroslaw Kaczynski was never mentioned as a plausible candidate," said Kucharczyk.  "People speculated whether Lech Kaczynski is the best candidate to represent the Law and Justice Party.  As we know his ratings were relatively poor, but Jaroslaw Kaczynski's ratings as a politician were even poorer.  We do not know how this will change with the sympathy vote," he added.

Analysts point out that Poland's democratic institutions have functioned well during this crisis.  There has been no power vacuum and Poles have shown a great deal of unity in mourning.

But political analyst Wnuk-Lipinski says those emotions should not be taken for granted.

"Public life in Poland is very tense with emotions.  So far the emotions are good.  But if politicians spoil this situation, then we may observe a very rapid turn of emotions, equally strong, but bad emotions, conflict and this kind of stuff," said Lipinski.

A warning to politicians to tread with caution.  What seems certain is that politics will take center stage in the coming weeks as Poland gears up for new elections and succession.

You May Like

UN Watchdog Urges Israel to Probe Possible Gaza War Crimes

More than 2,100 Palestinians, most of them civilians, were killed in a 51-day war in Gaza, along with 67 Israeli soldiers and six civilians in Israel More

New Kenyan 'Thin SIMs' Poised to Transform African Mobile Money

Equity's new technology is approved in African nation for one-year trial, though industry leader Safaricom says thin SIMs could lead to data theft and fraud More

Solar's Future Looks Brighter

New technology and dropping prices are contributing to a surge in solar power More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid