Presidential Elections ahead while Poland Commemorates its Past

Poland, 01 Apr - 30 Apr 2015
Who's going to be Poland's next president? ++ Former politician, publicist and historian Wladyslaw Bartoszewski dies at 93 ++ 5th anniversary of the plane disaster at Smolensk ++ President ratifies Istanbul Convention. by Dorota Redzikowska
Who's going to be Poland's next president?

On May 10th the Poles will rally to the ballot boxes. The candidates are the incumbent president Bronislaw Komorowski, Andrzej Duda from the right-clerical Law and Justice (PiS), Adam Jarubas from Polish People’s Party (PSL). The left-wingers are represented by independent Magdalena Ogorek, the right-wingers by Janusz Korwin-Mikke. Among the candidates are also celebrities such as singer Pawel Kukiz or liberal politician Janusz Palikot.

As is usual in the run-up to an election, the candidates meet voters and face each other in debates. However, some performances of the most promising candidates were viewed critically. For example, the ultra-conservative nationalist camp tried to disrupt a speech of Bronislaw Komorowski in Lublin. Magdalena Ogorek on the other hand criticised the government’s policies regarding Eastern Europe. She claims that if she were chosen, she would stand for a policy of detente towards Russia.

Former politician, publicist and historian Wladyslaw Bartoszewski dies at 93

Former Foreign Minister Wladyslaw Bartoszewski died at the age of 93 years. He held this office for two legislative periods, in 1999 and from 2000-2001. He was a member of the Polish Senate and for eight years Special Representative of the government for German-Polish dialogue.

The politician and historian was born in 1922, he joined the resistance during the Second World War. In 1940, he was in the German concentration camp Auschwitz, from which he was dismissed – however, seriously ill. In 1944, he took part in the Warsaw uprising.

Wladyslaw Bartoszewski is the author of numerous articles and publications. He was considered as one of the most important intellectuals in Poland. He held the title of Righteous among the Nations, many honorary university degrees and was winner of several renowned medals, including the Grand Cross of Merit.

5th anniversary of the plane disaster at Smolensk

On April 10th, Poland commemorated the disaster at Smolensk. On that day in 2010, the plane of a government aircraft with president Lech Kaczynski, his wife and 94 other politicians crashed on the way to the 70th anniversary of the WWII massacre at Katyn.

Although the disaster happened years ago, some Poles are still in deep sorrow. The brother of the deceased president and PiS leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski accused the Polish government of having accepted too quickly the version of the Russian side in the investigation for the cause of the crash. According to the official version, the Polish pilots of the plane were responsible for the plane crash after having ignored previous warnings about dangerous weather conditions.

Fact is that the Polish prosecutors were not able to examine all the evidence, including the plane. The remains of the plane are still in Russia – the Russian prosecutor has declared that the aircraft will not be sent back to Poland until the investigation is completed.

President ratifies Istanbul Convention

Polish politicians discussed the convention against domestic violence for a long time. Despite loud protests from the opposition the document was ratified by the parliament and senate and finally signed by President Komorowski.

The Istanbul Convention provides an improvement of protection against acts of violence and the awareness of society on this issue. The convention stresses that all beliefs or rules based on stereotypes should be abolished. People of both sexes have to be treated as equal. Furthermore, the convention states that cultural backgrounds or religious beliefs could not justify violence in any form. The opponents of the convention in Poland have reservations about several terms and phrases in the document, especially about the fact that marriage is not defined as a relationship between a man and a woman. Another major complaint concerns the convention as an alleged threat to Christian values in the Polish family.

In spite of everything, the convention was approved by the senate and by the president, who declared that the people always side with the victims of violence.

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