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Poland's Kaczynski and Kwasniewski face off in great debate

Poland's conservative-nationalist Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski was poised to face off against left-wing ex- president Aleksander Kwasniewski Monday in a televised debate.

Poland's Kaczynski and Kwasniewski face off in great debate
Poland's conservative-nationalist Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski was poised to face off against left-wing ex- president Aleksander Kwasniewski Monday in a televised debate expected to inject excitement into the lacklustre campaign ahead of the October 21 snap parliamentary elections.

Polish media were billing the debate as a clash between Poland's "two most charismatic politicians" and the main opposition front- runner in the election will be missing.

Liberal leader Donald Tusk has been bypassed, despite the fact his business-friendly Civic Platform (PO) party is running neck-and-neck for top spot with Kaczynski's right-wing social-welfare oriented Law and Justice (PiS) party.

Having served as president for two terms from 1995-2005,the popular Aleksander Kwasniewski is the poster boy for the left-wing LiD coalition of ex-communists, social democrats and former Solidarity anti-communist dissidents.

The coalition is running a distant third to both the PO and PiS and is the only other group certain to surpass the 5 per cent voter support threshold required to enter parliament.

The debate, scheduled for 1800 GMT, was also being hyped as a face-off between the so-called third and fourth Polish Republics.

In Poland's 2005 election campaign Kaczynski won on promises of forging a fourth Polish Republic, free of the corruption and graft that emerged during the four-year term of the ex-communist Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) government.

Kwasniewski, himself an ex-communist-turned-social-democrat, was among the SLD's founding fathers.

During his two years in government, Prime Minister Kaczynski has, however, himself been accused by the opposition of using his anti- corruption crusade in attempts to frame political rivals and so neutralise them.

With analysts in Warsaw suggesting that he has been marginalised, liberal leader Donald Tusk has said he is prepared to take-on the winner of Monday's political duel between two 'socialist' politicians.

"Relax, this is just the elimination round," Tusk told journalists. "The prime minister can behave like a spoilt brat in the sand box taking the shovel and trying to hit everyone with it," he added.

The snap October 21 ballot comes on the heels of two conflict- ridden years of government under Jaroslaw Kaczynski's Law and Justice party which failed to secure the stable majority coalition in parliament which would have allowed it to stay in office.

Kaczynski himself pushed for the September 7 self-dissolution of parliament which triggered the ballot.

Sharing executive power with his identical twin brother President Lech Kaczynski, the prime minister set EU-member Poland on a course which has seen it clash with Brussels over key issues such as the bloc's future constitutional treaty and relations with Russia.

EU officials warned last week that Poland was also far behind other 2004 EU newcomers in absorbing valuable structural and cohesion funding slated for badly needed infrastructure development such as roads.

DPA
Last Mod: 01 Ekim 2007, 17:25
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