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Cablegate: Get Out the Vote Efforts Target Pro-Po Young

VZCZCXYZ0020
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHWR #2129 2921238
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 191238Z OCT 07
FM AMEMBASSY WARSAW
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5367

UNCLAS WARSAW 002129

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL PL
SUBJECT: GET OUT THE VOTE EFFORTS TARGET PRO-PO YOUNG
ADULTS AND STUDENTS


1. (U) With youth vote possibly delivering the election to
the opposition Civic Platform (PO), turn out of students in
this weekend's parliamentary elections will be a crucial
factor. Students are more energized this year than in
previous rounds, particularly in 2005 when many opted to sit
out. Blogs, SMS messages and MTV Polska have called on
students to "get off their *** and vote." Many expect a
higher turnout this time. Thus, there was considerable
attention paid when over 16,000 students in 33 universities
and 18 cities across Poland participated in a mock
legislative election Tuesday. The mock ballot demonstrated
PO's domination among students: the party received 60% of
votes, whereas PiS trailed behind in second place with 13%.
In some universities, such as the University of Warsaw, PO
received 70% of votes. LiD and the Women's Party finished
third and fourth with 11.8% and 4.1% respectively. 4.1% of
participating students stated that they recognize the
importance of voting but didn't believe any party was worth
supporting.

2. (U) In public opinion polls, students and young adults say
they feel largely disillusioned with the current government
of Jaroslaw Kaczynski. They believe it has abused its power,
attempted to control the public media, and violated personal
rights. Even those who supported PiS in the 2005 elections
and agree with the principles of lustration (vetting
officials for past cooperation with Communist-era security
services) and eliminating corruption consider that the
government's methods for achieving these goals are
unacceptable. In 2005, many young people had an indifferent
attitude towards PO and PiS, seeing little difference between
them. In 2007, however, students are more mobilized and say
they are determined to influence political life.

3. (U) There are two groups of youth who say they intend to
vote for PO. The first are attracted to PO's
forward-thinking agenda which focuses on providing
opportunities for Poland's youth and promoting
entrepreneurship. To these young Poles, PiS seems stuck in
the past, focusing on eradicating remnants of the communist
period that most of them never experienced or only vaguely
remember. The second group tends to have more liberal
beliefs than those of PO but feel that it is the only party
with the potential to oust PiS and that their votes for other
parties, such as LiD, would be wasted.

4. (U) Efforts have been made to increase the youth voter
turnout, including campaigns via text messages, the internet,
and in the media. Students tend to study in areas other than
where they are registered to vote, so the University of
Warsaw has authorized absence from class until 1pm on the
Monday following Election Day to allow students to return to
their home cities to cast their ballot. The press has also
published guides instructing voters on how to temporarily
re-register in new cities. Although stated youth support for
PO is substantial, young people have proven less reliable
when it comes to actually getting to the polls and voting.
An informal SMS campaign jokingly urges young people to
"Steal your grandmother's ID card" to prevent her from voting
(presumably for PiS) on Sunday; but if they are to have an
impact they also need to get to the polls themselves.
ASHE

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