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A huge test for Polish democracy
  Posted on 10 Sat, Apr 2010, with tags:
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We are still reeling from the tragedy in Smolensk, and the full implications of the events are still not completely clear.

But this is, without question, the greatest event to test Poland's democracy since the fall of the Iron Curtain. A swathe of leaders – including much of the leadership of Poland's largest opposition party – have been lost.

A huge vacuum has been created – some high-ranking positions left vacant. Others, like the presidency, have been filled by political opponents of those who previously held the office.

Political battles being waged prior to the tragedy – such as between the late president of the National Bank of Poland Sławomir Skrzypek and the Monetary Policy Council over the NBP's profits – have been put on the back burner for now, but many have, de facto, been resolved in favor of one side, for better or worse.

There will be many who see conspiracy. There will be those who call for drastic measures. There will be those who cynically see the opportunity to take advantage of this tragedy for their own political gain. There will be even more who accuse opponents of such opportunism.

But Polish politicians must keep a cool head. The Constitution works, and is being followed. A presidential election will follow within 60 days.

Now is a time to mourn, a time to reflect and a time to support one another, regardless of political affiliation. The rebuilding and recovery process has already begun and as we come to grips with these terrible events, more will follow – and it must be undertaken with clearheadedness and determination.

The true test of a democracy is how well its laws are adhered to in crisis. The Polish people have endured far worse; we know they will recover once again. It is from their strength that Poland's democracy derives its strength – and that is how we know it will also weather this storm.
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