Polish Language Blog

New president of Poland Posted by on Jul 19, 2010 in Culture, Current News

Most of you probably heard about this horrible accident.

On April 10, 2010, Poland’s government suffered a staggering blow when a plane crash (katastrofa lotnicza) killed the president (prezydent), Lech Kaczynski, his wife and dozens of the country’s top political and military leaders (przywódcy), as their Soviet-designed aircraft was trying to land in heavy fog in western Russia.

President Kaczynski, 61, was arriving in Smolensk for a ceremony to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the murder of more than 20,000 Polish officers by the Soviet secret police after the Red Army invaded Poland.

In Poland, a Central European country of 38 million, the plane crash was described as the nation’s worst tragedy (tragedia) since World War II.

a bird flew by a cloud is sailing
a leaf is falling mallow sprouting
and there’s silence on high
and the Smolensk forest is steaming fog

Zbigniew Herbert „Buttons”



Poles voted in a snap election (wybory prezydenckie) forced by the air-crash death of conservative president Lech Kaczynski, with his twin bidding to replace him and keep out the governing liberals’ candidate. Pitting hardball ex-prime minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski against soft-spoken acting president Bronislaw Komorowski, the run-off marked the latest chapter in a bitter power struggle.

On Monday July 5th, the National Electoral Commission announced that Bronisław Komorowski had been elected President  of Poland, with 8,933,887 voters (53.01%) choosing this candidate, proposed by Civic Platform (Platforma Obywatelska), and 7,919,134 electors (46.99%) supporting Jarosław Kaczyński, the candidate proposed by Law and Justice (Prawo i Sprawiedliwość).

The high turnout showed the continuing polarization of Polish society, with Mr. Komorowski winning support from the cities and the young, while Mr. Kaczynski’s support came from the small towns and villages where the Roman Catholic Church, a strong supporter of Law and Justice, still exerts big influence.

In 2006 and 2007, the Kaczynski brothers served as president and prime minister at the same time. Their efforts to uncover former Communists and suspected collaborators in government and the news media, and oust them from important positions, led to a deep polarization of politics. While they were staunch allies of the United States, skepticism toward the European Union often put them at odds with European allies.

Most analysts had predicted that Lech Kaczynski would lose to Mr. Komorowski in the 2010 presidential election. The crash upended all expectations, moving the election forward and placing pressure inside the party on Jaroslaw Kaczynski to carry on in his brother’s place.

Lech Kaczynski was elected president in 2005 just as Jaroslaw became head of the nationalist-conservative Law and Justice government, often putting Poland on a collision course with Russia.

Mr. Kaczynski forged close relationships with Ukraine and Georgia and pushed for their accession into NATO, arguing passionately that a stronger NATO would keep Russia from reasserting its influence over Eastern Europe.

What now for Poland?

It will be hard to forget about what happened. But, we have to think positive about the future.

Do następnego razu! (Till next time…)

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About the Author: Kasia

My name is Kasia Scontsas. I grew near Lublin, Poland and moved to Warsaw to study International Business. I have passion for languages: any languages! Currently I live in New Hampshire. I enjoy skiing, kayaking, biking and paddle boarding. My husband speaks a little Polish, but our daughters are fluent in it! I wanted to make sure that they can communicate with their Polish relatives in our native language. Teaching them Polish since they were born was the best thing I could have given them! I have been writing about learning Polish language and culture for Transparent Language’s Polish Blog since 2010.


  1. Chris/blindside70:

    It’s probably the biggest similarity between the states and Poland (aside from the whole eagle thing and the affinity for constitutions and fighting for freedom) is that there a pure a visible division between the religious countryside and the young “city slickers”.

    The only difference is Poland is split down the middle (which is scarier) where in the states the coastal areas seem to be stalwart democratic states and the center seems to very conservative.