Poland to hold presidential elections in May

AP News
Posted: Feb 04, 2015 4:18 PM
Poland to hold presidential elections in May

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Poland will hold presidential elections on May 10, around the time of planned World War II remembrance observances that have aggravated a historic dispute between Poland and Russia.

Parliamentary Speaker Radoslaw Sikorski, who announced the election date on Wednesday, dismissed concerns that it's too close to the disputed end of World War II remembrance ceremonies, traditionally held in Moscow on May 9. Poland, the war's first victim, is planning an international ceremony on May 8.

Moscow has accused Poland of trying to diminish Russia's role in ending the war. Amid the discussions over the May ceremonies, Polish and Russian officials have traded sharp words. Poles bitterly remember the secret German-Soviet pact to carve up Poland in 1939. That was followed by the German attack on Gdansk and then by Russia's thrust into eastern Poland. After the war, Poland was put into the Soviet orbit for decades.

Officials in Russia prefer to stress the heroic Soviet role alongside the Allies in defeating Nazi Germany. Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski says the planned May 8 ceremony isn't aimed against Russia.

The dispute was the third such controversy in recent weeks and a sign of deteriorating relations between the two neighbors over Russian actions in Ukraine.

Some Polish media suggested that holding the presidential election at such a politically charged moment may affect its outcome, and give Komorowski's re-election bid a boost from having highlighted Poland's fate in the war.

Komorowski, who already leads in opinion polls, is being challenged by Poland's first ever trans-gender candidate, lawmaker Anna Grodzka, and a former TV presenter with little political experience, Magdalena Ogorek.

Ogorek's candidacy has set off a political firestorm, with many observers saying she was chosen by a left-wing party only because of her good looks, while her last name can be a hindrance because it means "cucumber."

Grodzka, 58, shook the political scene in 2011, when she became the first-ever trans-gender lawmaker in the predominantly Roman Catholic nation. She had sex change surgery in 2010 in Thailand.