Cablegate: Likely Coalition Partners Neck-and-Neck On Eve Of

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




E.O. 12958: N/A


1. (SBU) Summary: National opinion surveys on the last day of
the Polish parliamentary election campaign show the centrist
Civic Platform (PO) and center-right Law and Justice (PiS)
running roughly even (albeit with a slight edge to PO),
highlighting the fierce contest for first place between the
two parties that will almost certainly form the next
government. The final week of the campaign has been marked by
heated exchanges and recriminations among PO and PiS leaders,
with PiS accusing PO of radical economic liberalism and PO
branding PiS as socialistic and pandering to the extreme
right. Following each such exchange, however, both sides
have circled back to reaffirm their commitment to serve
together in a coalition government. PO presidential
candidate Donald Tusk's support remains just short of the
fifty-percent threshold he needs to cross to secure a
first-round victory October 8. He and PiS rival Lech
Kaczynski's televised debate was postponed until September
26, owing to other parties' challenges and State Electoral
Commission concerns. End summary.

2. (U) Opinion surveys published on the last day of the
campaign were uniform in ranking PO and PiS nearly evenly
matched, with a small margin for PO in every poll but one
(which showed the two parties tied). These polls indicated
that PO had the support of between 29 and 34 percent, and PiS
a few points below PO's level. The populist Self-Defense
came in third at between 10 and 12 percent, while figures for
the remaining parties varied among the polls: the right-wing
LPR had between 5 and 11 percent, the governing SLD between 4
(below the threshold for parliamentary representation) and 8
percent, and the Peasants' Party (PSL) between 4 and 7
percent. Meanwhile, PO presidential candidate Tusk's numbers
remain in the mid-to-high 40 percent range, with Lech
Kaczynski stalled at around 30 percent. Tusk has also
maintained a decisive, 60-40 lead over Kaczynski in a
hypothetical head-to-head, second-round matchup with his PiS

3. (SBU) As anticipated, the campaign rhetoric has sharpened
in the final week of the campaign. PiS candidates continue
to attack their PO rivals for liberal, "experimental"
policies (recalling the deeply unpopular shock therapy of the
early 1990's) that will favor the wealthiest citizens; PO's
flat tax proposals are a favorite target. Alternatively, PiS
accuses PO of not having any program at all. PO has
responded with equal furor, labeling the PiS program as
socialist (PO leader and PM candidate Jan Rokita declared
that PiS stands for "law and socialism," rather than "law and
justice") and complaining about PiS's open courtship of the
extreme right-wing Catholic vote. A senior PiS campaign
official appeared this week on the Catholic television
channel "Trwam" (an affiliate of the infamous "Radio Maryja,"
whose director recently vowed to "sink" PO); afterwards, Tusk
warned against such a "dangerous political strategy" and both
he and Rokita called into question whether PiS really wants a
coalition with PO.

4. (SBU) After such exchanges, however, leaders of both PO
and PiS continue to reaffirm the compelling logic of their
likely coalition. PiS leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski insisted
that he is "100 percent sure" that his party will enter into
coalition with PO, even as he continued to highlight
fundamental differences between the two parties. PiS is not
out to "sink" PO, he declared, seeking to distance his party
(somewhat) from "Radio Maryja" (N.B., if PiS does manage a
stronger-than-expected showing this weekend, the support of
the ultra-conservative Catholic organization could well be a
significant factor). Tusk publicly lamented the PiS attacks,
but assured that it is "impossible" to think that PO and PiS
will not form a coalition.

5. (SBU) Emboff visits to Poznan, Olsztyn, Augustow and
Bialystok this week reinforced the message that we have heard
elsewhere throughout Poland, that PO and PiS are expected to
finish first and second in nearly every region. In Poznan, a
business center in one of Poland's wealthiest regions, PO is
expected to win half of the seats for the Sejm, with PiS
coming in a close second. PiS Sejm deputy Aleksander
Szczyglo, who represents the poorest region in Poland, in
northeastern Mazuria, hoped for PiS to edge out PO as the
top-vote getter, a real switch for an area that traditionally
supported the Polish Peasants Party and SLD.

6. (SBU) Comment: With a tightening race for first place, an
upsurge in partisan attacks between PO and PiS was to be
expected. It is encouraging, moreover, that neither side has
allowed the fighting to get out of hand; both PO and PiS
appear -- for now, at least -- focused on the need to work
together after the elections. Already speculation here has
begun to shift to the relationships within a PO-PiS coalition
(determined in large part, of course, by the results of
Sunday's vote). Divisions between the party leaders are
often as much personal as they are policy-based; Rokita in
particular is viewed as a difficult partner for PiS (one
interlocutor remarked that Rokita is so sure of himself that
"he'd tell the British queen which hat to wear to Ascot") and
the Kaczynski twins are notoriously insular (a view shared by
many PiS "insiders" as well). Most here expect life within
the coalition to be rough.

© Scoop Media

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