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Kaczynski takes centre stage in Poland's campaign

By dpa news     Sep 12, 2007 in Politics
The first days' campaigning ahead of Poland's October 21 snap election have become a one-man show featuring conservative-nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski.
Kaczynski has captured the spotlight with visits to flooded territories in southern Poland, a farmers' congress, a high-profile election rally in Poznan and appearances with his respected health minister.
His list of election promises is long and attractive: help for flooded farmers, 4 billion zloty (1.5 billion dollars) for Poland's chronically underfunded health sector, baby bonuses and a war against corruption and so-called "oligarchs".
Kaczynski has also missed no opportunity to appeal to Poles' sense of patriotism, setting a nationalist tone to the campaign in which he has also taken shots at Germany.
Meanwhile, PiS arch-rival, the liberal Civic Platform (PO) is preoccupied with its own internal conflicts.
Jan Rokita, one of the PO's leading figures, threatened to leave or run as an independent if a party list in his native Krakow would not be arranged according to his wishes.
First on the election list, Rokita is demanding his party allies be put on it, replacing younger candidates.
PO party leader Donald Tusk has promised to make a decision on the matter by Friday.
PO is set to launch its election campaign this weekend at an election rally in the historic western Polish city of Gniezno at the weekend, a week after the PiS jumped into the spotlight with a slick rally.
To confuse matters more, Rokita's wife, Nelly, has said she may run as a candidate for PO arch-rival PiS or the smaller conservative Polish Peasants' Party (PSL).
Opinion polls this week showed the PiS and PO running neck-and- neck.
Running at a distant third in the polls, the left-wing LiD coalition is also preoccupied with in-fighting.
Party leaders have pushed controversial ex-communists such as former prime minister Leszek Miller into the shadows.
Meanwhile, popular former left-wing president Aleksander Kwasniewski has been pushed into the limelight to attract voters.
In a recent interview for the German edition of Vanity Fair, Kwasniewski said the German government should re-think its conciliatory policy toward Poland in the event of a Kaczynski victory this October.
Kwasniewski's comments gave Kaczynski and the PiS heavy ammunition for their campaign. The PiS cast Kwasniewski's words as anti-Polish treason and an invitation for Germany to become involved in the Polish election campaign.
Kwasniewski later apologised, but his comments are still being used as campaign fodder by the PiS, with Kaczynski not hesitating to use anti-German accents in the campaign.
Observers see the conservative Polish Peasants' Party (PSL) as the dark horse in this race.
PSL leader, former prime minister Waldemar Pawlak has urged moderation, while the PSL has steered clear of the mud-slinging and high-pitched controversy which has characterised Polish politics over the last two years.
For voters disillusioned with Poland's conflict-ridden political mainstream, the PSL is presenting itself as a moderate alternative to the right-wing PiS, liberal PO and the left-wing LiD and a level- headed potential coalition partner. dpa ma sib sc
 
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