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Cablegate: Polish Elections Update: Po, Pis Maintain Lead

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS WARSAW 003393

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL PL
SUBJECT: POLISH ELECTIONS UPDATE: PO, PIS MAINTAIN LEAD


1. (SBU) Summary: The centrist Civic Platform (PO) and
center-right Law and Justice (PiS) continue to dominate the
party preference polls with little more than a week before
Polish parliamentary elections September 25. The latest
surveys indicate that PO still far outpaces PiS, and that,
together, the likely coalition partners will have a solid
majority in parliament. SLD candidate Wlozdimierz
Cimoszewicz's September 14 withdrawal from the presidential
race may have strengthened PO candidate Donald Tusk's lead,
with one poll putting his support at 50 percent. Tusk and
PM-apparent Jan Rokita (PO) have both signaled their
preference for a coalition government with PiS, even if PO
were to win an outright majority on its own, reasoning that
it would be better to deal with PiS in coalition than in
opposition. End summary.

2. (U) The most recent reliable opinion poll, released
September 15, put support for PO at 36 percent, with PiS next
at 23 percent, followed by the governing SLD at 9 percent,
the right-wing LPR at 8 percent, and the populist
Self-Defense at 7 percent. This survey projected that PO and
PiS would win 348 of the total 460 parliamentary seats, well
above the two-thirds needed to amend the constitution.
Another poll released that day showed even higher levels of
support for PO and PiS (42 and 24 percent, respectively), but
that survey is considered less reliable because it was
conducted by telephone. Strikingly, the rest of the field
was reduced to single-digit levels of support in both polls.

3. (U) The departure of Cimoszewicz from the presidential
campaign may have boosted Tusk's support slightly, as a third
of Cimoszewicz supporters had listed Tusk as their second
choice in earlier polls. A poll taken immediately after
Cimoszewicz's announcement indicated that support for Tusk
had risen to 50 percent (versus 29 percent for PiS rival Lech
Kaczynski), fueling speculation that Tusk might win the
presidency in the first round. In any case, Cimoszewicz's
withdrawal was yet more bad news for the Kaczynski campaign,
which had still hoped, against all evidence, to face the SLD
candidate in the second round.

4. (SBU) The public reaction from the PO camp to its
sustained surge has been characteristically restrained, as
its leaders seek to avoid appearing overconfident and
alienating potential supporters. Both Tusk and Rokita stated
publicly September 16 that PO would prefer to have PiS join
it in a coalition government, even if PO were to win a
parliamentary majority on its own. Better a coalition
government with broad public support that a single-party
government with weaker public backing, Rokita reasoned.
Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz, leader of PO's Warsaw list,
confirmed that view with us, noting that some in the party
have become enthusiastic about the prospect of governing
alone, but most recognize that it will be much easier to have
PiS in coalition (however difficult, especially on economic
issues, that will be) than to have to face them in opposition.
Ashe

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