Poland's opposition loses ground ahead of election

AP News
Posted: Oct 06, 2011 7:55 AM
Poland's opposition loses ground ahead of election

A nationalist party in Poland that is using anti-Germany rhetoric in its campaign for this week's national election has seen its popularity fall in the latest opinion poll.

The Law and Justice has tried to capitalize on the animosity that some Poles still feel for Germany because of its occupation of their country during World War II.

The party leader, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, alleged in his book that German Chancellor Angela Merkel wants to subjugate Poland, and that Germany would like to control territory it had lost to Poland after World War II.

"It is important that from Poland Merkel wants, first of all, a subordination, albeit soft," Kaczynski wrote in the book "The Poland of our Dreams," which was recently published.

"I would also not be very happy to see German investment in Western Poland," Kaczynski wrote, stressing the need to upgrade Poland's developing economy to Germany's level. "Otherwise we can wake up one day in a smaller Poland."

The latest opinion poll showed a dip in support for Kaczynski's party.

The survey, published Thursday by the Gazeta Wyborcza daily, had Civic Platform, the pro-market and pro-European Union party of Prime Minister Donald Tusk, in the lead with 31 percent support, unchanged for three days in a row. Support for Law and Justice dipped to 18 percent from 21 percent during that period.

Some commentators link the fall in popularity to the remarks by Kaczynski, who is trying to capitalize on distrust of Germany, still present among older Polish voters. They remember the suffering that Nazi Germany inflicted on Poland with its World War II occupation. But over the past decades, Germany has expressed remorse for those crimes and the neighboring nations have evolved into close trading partners and allies in NATO and the European Union.

Despite those good ties, there is also some anxiety in Poland that Germany's warming ties with Russia could threaten Poland today, as they have in the past.

Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski urged Kaczynski late Wednesday to stop making insinuations about Germany that could harm Poland's interests.

"The idea of insinuations, often used in Poland's internal politics, is an ugly thing, but not necessarily dramatically dangerous for Poland," Komorowski said in an interview on TVN24 late Wednesday. "However, if you use insinuations toward an important figure of European political life, it becomes a dangerous idea that is bad for Poland."

The survey showed that three other parties would make it into parliament: the rising new populist Palikot's Movement, with 10 percent support; the Democratic Left Alliance with 7 percent, and the farm-rooted Poland's People's Party with 6 percent. The poll was conducted by TNS OBOP on Tuesday on 1,000 adults. The margin of error for the poll is plus or minus 3 percentage points.