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Vol 3, No 14
23 April 2001
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News from Poland News from Poland
All the important news
since 14 April 2001

Wojtek Kość


Pre-election in Nysa

Polish politicians and their parties are preparing for the informal pre-elections that will take place in town Nysa, southwest Poland. Even though pre-elections hold no important consequences, politicians treat them seriously as an excellent form of publicity for themselves and parties they represent. This year, small town Nysa will host two pre-elections: on 22 April and then in September, two weeks before real, constitutional parliamentary elections.

View today's updated headlines from Poland

The town's authorities take advantage of the event in order to promote Nysa as well as making politicians promise various facilities for the town. Thanks to last year's presidential pre-elections, Nysa gained a new school and funding for renovation of the local hospital.

Also, foreign investors (especially Germans) have become more interested in the town. In a nearby village, a German company will build a factory of car prototypes. Before Nysa inhabitants actually go the pre-election polls, parties competed fiercely for the right to place their adverts in the town's most attractive spots, which is an additional source for closing the budget of the whole event. Politicians, aware that a good result in Nysa is a good argument to be used throughout the latter part of their campaigns, arrive there in advance in order to offer more equipment for schools, new faculties for the hospital, etc.

This year government officials in particular have chosen Nysa as one of the top priorities in their agendas. The first pre-elections in Poland took place in Wrzesnia in 1993 and predicted (though not accurately) the victory of the Social Democratic Left Alliance.

Even though on the whole Polish pre-elections give similar results to the "real" elections, they cannot be considered a credible source for Poles' political preferences. For example, the Polish Peasants Party has regularly under-achieved in pre-elections while it attracted a much higher vote in the constitutional elections.

"People taking part in pre-elections do not form a representative group, therefore pre-elections' results are not polls," said sociology professor Andrzej Rychard from the Polish Academy of Science, in Gazeta Wyborcza on 20 April. And the latest polls, conducted by OBOP polling company, are as follows: the coalition of Social Democratic Left Alliance and the Union of Labours enjoys 46 percent of support, the Civic Platform has 14 percent, the Polish Peasants' Party 12 percent, the ruling Solidarity Electoral Action ten percent, the Freedom Union and the Movement for Reconstruction of Poland both five percent.


Debski shot dead

Jacek Debski, former Sport and Tourism Minister, was shot dead outside the Warsaw restaurant "Casa Nostra," where he celebrated his birthday. He was accompanied by three people: sports journalist Janusz Atlas, businessman Filip Koc, and a key figure in the ongoing investigation, 24-year-old woman, Halina G. Shortly after 11 in the evening, Jacek Debski and Halina G left the restaurant and minutes later Debski was shot and died a few hours later in the hospital. The police investigation centers around Halina G who most probably saw the killer, and it is not excluded that she knew him.

The woman, however, refuses to testify; the police are considering granting her the status of crown witness. There have also been suggestions that the killing was connected to former minister's mysterious relationships with the Polish mafia—an analysis of his mobile phone calls showed that on the critical night he called Vienna-based Jeremiasz Baranski, thought to be one of the bosses of Polish mafia, several times.

Last year, Debski made headlines when, in the middle of presidential campaign, he claimed a high-ranked Solidarity Electoral Action politician demanded from him discrediting materials that were to be used against Aleksander Kwasniewski. Debski said he was then warned, "If he didn't find [those materials], he will be discredited himself."


Warsaw Ghetto and Holocaust remembered

On 19 April, two important events in connection to troubled history of Polish Jews took place. The 58th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising was commemorated in Warsaw and the annual March of the Living took place in Auschwitz.

Politicians, Warsaw authorities, World War Two veterans and representatives of Jewish organizations gathered at the monument of the Ghetto Heroes to commemorate the uprising. Polish movie director Roman Polanski laid flowers beneath the monument. Polanski is now in Poland to shoot his latest production The Pianist, about musician Wladyslaw Szpilman whose whole family perished in the ghetto in 1940s. "What is most important about the uprising, is that it took place at all," said Marek Edelman, the last living commander of the uprising.

In Auschwitz, about 2000 young people from Poland and Israel took part in the March of the Living, organized annually to commemorate the victims of the Holocaust. Plans for a multimedia Polish Jews' History Museum were also revealed. The building's design will come from renowned American architect Frank Gehry.

Wojtek Kość, 20 April 2001

Moving on:

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