|Leftist party SLD says Edward Gierek (center) is viewed favorably by Poles|
The Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) wants 2013 to be declared the year of Edward Gierek, who was first secretary of the communist party from 1970 till 1980. The party said it will prepare a relevant resolution to be passed by the Sejm.
At a press conference organized on the eve of the 100th anniversary of Mr Gierek's birth, SLD politicians said they would form a committee to organize events marking the jubilee. They also suggested that one of Warsaw's roundabouts should bear the name of the communist leader. This, however, is subject to decisions of the city's local authorities.
SLD claims that Mr Gierek was unique among the leaders of communist Poland, as his rule was a time of economic development and investment.
But while it is true that the standard of living increased markedly in Poland in the 1970s under Mr Gierek, most of this was financed by loans from the West, which Poland only managed to finally pay off in October last year.
Year of the family
Politicians from other parties were not so eager to support the idea. Commenting on the proposal, Prime Minister Donald Tusk said that 2013 should be named the year of the family, rather than of Mr Gierek, in accordance with the government's priorities for the year.
"With all due respect to the intentions of all people behind the idea, 2013 should be the year of the family in Poland," the prime minister said.
Tomasz Nałęcz, a former communist party member and current presidential advisor, also said he is against the idea, as is the conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party. The socially liberal Palikot's Movement has been the only party to support SLD's idea so far.
Public thinks differently from politicians?
But SLD claims it has public opinion on its side.
The party commissioned pollster TNS OBOP to conduct a survey asking people their opinion of Mr Gierek's time in power.
As Krzysztof Gawkowski, SLD secretary general, told WBJ, the survey revealed that 54 percent of Poles have a positive view of Mr Gierek's rule, while 22 percent have a negative opinion. Also, 48 percent are in favor of some form of honoring the communist leader's memory, while 27 percent are against it.
"This shows that the society thinks that it was not a lost time for Poland," Mr Gaw-kowski said.
PiS, meanwhile, wants 2013 to be named the year of the 1863 January Uprising, which happened during the period when Poland was carved up among foreign powers and had ceased to exist on the map.
Regardless of official resolutions made in parliament, SLD plans its own celebrations throughout 2013, starting with a conference in Sosnowiec, where Mr Gierek was born and is still revered by many, at the end of January.
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