Polish parliament's last session before election disturbed

AP News
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Posted: Oct 08, 2015 1:10 PM
Polish parliament's last session before election disturbed

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — As emotions are mounting in the campaign before Poland's general election, an agitated lawmaker on Thursday disrupted parliament's last session before the Oct. 25 vote.

The pro-business Civic Platform party, in power since 2007, has been accused by opponents of corruption and arrogance. According to surveys, the party seems poised to lose power to the conservative opposition Law and Justice party, which is riding high after its candidate, Andrzej Duda, unexpectedly won the presidential election and took office in August.

Hostile exchanges between the two main parties seem to encourage smaller groups to vent their frustration.

At the start of the last, two-day parliamentary session, lawmaker Jaroslaw Gromadzki took the floor to protest the barring of the party of a controversial businessman, Zbigniew Stonoga, from running in some constituencies because of insufficient support.

Gromadzki said that amounted to "electoral fraud," called the lawmakers "thieves" and refused to leave the podium. A brief recess was called to allow guards to lead him out.

Marcin Kierwinski of the pro-European Civic Platform, said the choice in the election was between a country that is constantly developing and growing, offered by his party, and a Poland full of obsessions and suspicions. He was apparently referring to the time when the EU-skeptic Law and Justice was in power in 2005-2007 and focused on exposing communist-era agents and corrupt officials.

Beata Szydlo, Law and Justice's candidate for prime minister, said the ruling party was taking illegal steps, like the planned last-moment appointment of new judges for a special court that were "spoiling the state" and obstructing the president's work. Duda has a troubled relationship with the government.

Szydlo named Jaroslaw Gowin as her "most likely" candidate for defense minister — countering media reports that another party member, Antoni Macierewicz, would be the candidate.

An advocate of stronger NATO presence in Poland and in the region, which is concerned over Russia's military actions, Gowin said he would raise spending on the army to over 2 percent of gross domestic product and would purchase armaments from Polish, rather than foreign makers.

Commenting on the infighting, the leader of a small right-wing party with little electoral chance, Janusz Korwin-Mikke, released four pigs bearing the names of the main parties in front of the parliament.

A telephone survey of 1,003 adult Poles on Oct. 7-8 by the Millward Brown polling agency that was released by TVN24 on Thursday showed 35 percent support for Law and Justice and 19 percent for Civic Platform. The margin of error was plus or minus 3.3 percentage points.