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Poland Set for Coalition Talks Amid Campaigning for Presidential Election

Poland's socially conservative Law and Justice party is preparing for coalition talks with the market-oriented Civic Platform, even as the two parties prepare to face off in presidential elections in two weeks. The two parties roundly defeated the governing party in Sunday's parliamentary elections.

Election officials, announcing final results of Sunday's election, say the Law and Justice party, which campaigned on an anti-corruption platform, won 27 percent of the vote. The pro-business Civic Platform got 24 percent.

The governing Democratic Left Alliance, which faced allegations of corruption and discontent over high unemployment, got just 11 percent of the vote, down from 41 percent in elections four years ago.

The coalition talks will be overshadowed by the presidential elections October 9. Lech Kaczynski, the candidate for Law & Justice, is running against Donald Tusk, the leader of the Civic Platform.

Further complicating the negotiations is the fact that Lech Kaczynski's twin brother, Jaroslaw Kaczynski is the leader of the Law and Justice party. He has said he would not accept the prime minister's post, if his brother is elected president.

Analyzing the results of Sunday's parliamentary elections, Polish Sociologist Jacek Kucharczyk suggests that voters have made clear they want a new political direction for the country where unemployment of 18 percent is the highest in the European Union. He says that, following years of corruption scandals and social tension, Polish people want a more mature democracy.

"The most important focus of the campaigns of both Civic Platform and Law and Justice parties was on changing the way politics is done in Poland, and reforming the Polish state to make it closer and more trustworthy by the citizens," said Jacek Kucharczyk. "This, of course, in the wake of the corruption scandals, which have plagued [prime

minister] Marek Belka's government and the period of SLD rule."

But Marcin Sobczyk of the Warsaw Independent News Service told Polish Radio that, despite their election set-back, the Democratic Left Alliance, which has roots in the former Communist party, will remain influential in today's Poland.

"I think this funeral of post-Communism is premature," said Marcin Sobczyk. "I think, basically, it will go away maybe in 10 years from now, or 15 years from now, when, actually, people who were former apparatchiks will retire."

Although the Law and Justice party disagrees with the Civic Platform Party over its proposal to introduce a 15 percent flat tax rate and other tough business proposals, both have agreed on the need for economic changes that will speed up Poland's introduction of the euro currency.