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Last Updated: Monday, 26 September 2005, 12:00 GMT 13:00 UK
Poll means new EU role for Poland
By Mark Mardell
BBC Europe Editor

Lech Kaczynski
Lech Kaczynski and his twin brother Jaroslaw want more say for Poland
While Germany is still mired in coalition talks heading in an uncertain direction, Poland at least has given the European Union a clear message.

The biggest winner, the Law and Justice party (PiS) is lead by two portly identical twins - Lech and Jaroslaw Kaczynski - nicknamed "the ducks".

But their appearance on the European stage is more likely to be a confident march than a waddle.

They are aghast that surveys show many Poles see themselves as citizens of "a small nation" when it is geographically large, and so in terms of EU votes, powerful.

Their leader has said it is time for other countries to stop "yelling" at Poland. French President Jacques Chirac may be wondering "Do they mean me?"

This is the main reason why Law and Justice and their almost inevitable coalition partners Civil Platform (PO), are opposed to the European Union constitution.

They prefer the Nice treaty which gives Poland more of a say. Few think the constitution has much of a chance of being revived in its current form, but the Polish election is another shovel full of earth on the coffin.

No to euro

For a start, they will fight against its revival and they have also suggested they would not hold a referendum until Britain has one too, and that is not going to happen.

The two parties which will now dominate the Polish parliament are sometimes described as Eurosceptic, but it is probably better to say that they are not starry-eyed.

The new Polish government hopes the country to be full of plumbers and other workers taking their businesses all over the EU
They do not have an idealistic vision of the EU as the vehicle to ever closer union, but neither do they want to take Poland out of the organisation it joined such a short time ago.

Their vision is dominated by what they see as Poland's best economic interests. Poland is not likely to join the euro in the near future.

Civil Platform, which many had expected to be the biggest party, is keen on joining and wants a referendum soon - soon meaning 2010. But it turns out Law and Justice will have the most seats and they cannot see many advantages in joining and will not hold a referendum until 2015.

There is no doubt that Britain's centre-left Tony Blair will yet again feel happier with European Union partners on the centre-right.


Both Polish parties are keen on economic liberalism and are likely to back Mr Blair in his campaign for a Europe that is more dynamic and less bothered about formal workers rights and social protection.

Polish plumber advert (photo: Polish National Tourism Office)
The Polish tourist board hit back at French fears of Polish plumbers
But this drive, at home and abroad, will only exacerbate worries in the those countries that are worried about the 10 new members who have joined the EU.

The Polish plumber was a bogeyman figure in the French referendum: someone who would do work on the cheap, putting righteous French plumbers out of a job.

The new Polish government hopes the country will be full of plumbers and other workers taking their businesses all over the EU, unhindered by the high costs at home that joining the euro could mean.

Both parties are more nationalistic than their predecessors: a more aggressive attitude towards Germany and Russia is on the cards. And they are likely to be less keen on Turkey joining the EU club?

Some will say the elections are "bad for the EU"- but they mean bad for one particular vision of the European Union. The new Polish government will have vigorous opinions on the direction of the EU.

The big argument continues: watch this space.

Q&A: Polish elections
23 Sep 05 |  Europe
The twins who would lead Poland
16 Jun 05 |  Europe
Polish PM seeks early elections
03 Mar 05 |  Europe
Country profile: Poland
13 Jun 04 |  Country profiles

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