>Poles set to surprise at the polls?

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Polish politics moves so fast. One minute the ultra-Catholic League of Polish Families are allying with populist Self-Defence (PiS), the next thing they have teamed up with dissident MPs for the ruling Law and Justice party and – my SSEES colleague tells during a breath of fresh air during out staff awayday – the notionally liberatarian Union for Real Politics. As in 2001 the election is a ding-dong battle between populist inclined conservative nationalist PiS and the centre-right Civic Platform (OP), who are liberal-conservative bloc loosely in ther mould of the Czech ODS (although this time they are keeping stum about that belief in flat taxation, it seems, and stressing PiS authoritarian leanings and apparent abuse of the anti-corruption agency and police. Opinion polls going up and down with OP and PiS variously in the lead with each getting (usually) around 30% of the poll. Small parties have been squeezed. The remnants of the once mightly post-communist left have formed a Hungarian style left-liberal coalition (LiD) with the Democrats, descendants of the ex-dissident Freedom Union who crashed out of parliament in 2005. This grouping seems set to hang on in parliament as a minor party with around 10 per cent of the poll. The Polish Peasant Party (PSL) also seem set to do badly, with polls I have seen reported putting them on 3-5 per cent, suggesting they could go the same way. Indeed, in one poll, they were reportedly barely ahead of the National Pensioners Party (KPEiR) which registered a respectabe 3%. There is also a Women’s Party standing (1.6%). Both the result and the government seem, frankly, anyone’s guesss and, as ever, Polish elections seems set to generate surprises. Who knows it might even be worth putting a few zlotys on the Pensioners.

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