Poland. The acting government chief, Prime Minister Marek
Belka, announced at the beginning of the year that he
intended to step down and announce early elections. However,
Parliament did not agree to an earlier election, and
President Aleksander Kwaśniewski refused to accept a power
vacuum at the Council of Europe Summit in Warsaw in May.
Belka therefore stayed at his post until the autumn's
When the Polish-born Pope John Paul II was dying in
March, large crowds of Poles gathered to watch and pray for
his recovery. In Karol Wojtyła's old archbishop's seat in
Kraków, the pope's favorite team Cracovia set football
matches. When the obituary arrived in early April, almost an
entire nation mourned Poland's great son, and in Kraków a
mass was held in Cracovia's arena, which was renamed John
Paul II's stadium.
At the beginning of the year, US Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice came on a short visit to Warsaw and praised
Poland's military efforts in Iraq. But the Polish defense
minister declared in April that Poland planned to withdraw
its 1,700 soldiers from Iraq by the end of the year.
stakes in Iraq were not popular among the electorate, which,
before this autumn's parliamentary and presidential
elections, gave very low opinion figures to the parties in
the left-wing government.
Instead, the polls gave success to the opposition within
the right-wing Citizens' Platform (PO) and the Nationalist
and Conservative Party Law and Justice (PiS). Law and
justice were led by the twin brothers Lech and Jarosław
Kaczyński, and it was speculated that the positions of
president and head of government would fall within the same
The parliamentary elections received a record low
participation of just over 40% and became a clear victory
for the bourgeois parties. PiS, which partly emerged as
EU-skeptical and promised action against poverty, was the
largest with 155 seats in the lower house, the Sejm,
followed by PO with 133 seats. The government's loss was
staggering. The leading ruling party Democratic Left
Alliance (SLD) shrank from 216 to 55 seats.
However, PiS leader Jarosław Kaczyński refrained from
becoming a new head of government, citing his twin brother
running for president. The task of forming a new government
therefore went to the market liberal economist Kazimierz
Marcinkiewicz of PiS.
Since the SLD candidate withdrew from the presidential
election, the battle was between PO Party leader Donald Tusk
and PiS candidate Lech Kaczyński, who was mayor of Warsaw.
The favorite Tusk won the first round, but in the final
round the more conservative Kaczyński won the most votes and
won with about 54% of the votes. In December, the new
president was installed in his office.
The government negotiations between PiS and PO were
delayed and eventually collapsed. Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz
and PiS therefore formed a minority government. It was voted
on with the support of the EU hostile right-wing
self-defense and Polish families' associations, while the PO
voted against what they called the "anti-European" forces.
In December, outgoing President Kwaśniewski demanded
information that the US intelligence service CIA was
detaining or detaining suspected terrorists in a Polish