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Yearbook 2015

Poland. The year marked a political course change in Poland, when the conservative and nationalist opposition conquered both the presidential post and government power from the right-wing liberals.

2015 Poland

At the May presidential election, the opposition party won the Law and Justice candidate, the lawyer and EU parliamentarian Andrzej Duda, surprisingly the first round of elections just before incumbent President Bronisław Komorowski. Many voters wanted a change, and in the second round Duda won with 51.6% over Komorowski's 48.5%. Only more than half of those entitled to vote participated in the election.

According to COUNTRYAAH, 43-year-old Andrzej Duda was described as an EU critic but also as a harsh critic of the Russian Federation. He had previously been an adviser to President Lech Kaczyński, who died in a 2010 plane crash.

In June, Parliament Speaker Radosław Sikorski resigned because of compromising audio recordings that went public the year before. Three ministers also left their posts. The ruling Citizens' Platform wanted to remove the scandal from the campaign ahead of this autumn's parliamentary elections.

When Andrzej Duda was installed as president, he said that Poland wants to see increased NATO presence in the region. He also explained that the country does not want to receive any refugees from the Middle East and Africa. Instead, Duda expected Poland to take many refugees from the war-affected Ukraine. However, the government agreed to receive 2,000 refugees that the EU is to redistribute from Greece and Italy.

In the electoral movement before the parliamentary elections in October, there was harsh refugee rhetoric from the Law and Justice. Party leader Jarosław Kaczyński warned, among other things, that refugees spread infectious diseases such as cholera and dysentery.

The ruling Liberal Conservative Citizens' Platform lacked in its electoral movement its former leader and prime minister, Donald Tusk, who has become the EU's permanent chairman. After eight years in power, the party seemed to have lost the support of the people, especially from the Poles who did not take part in the strong macroeconomic growth.

The election therefore became a major victory for Law and Justice, which effectively used social media in the election campaign and surprisingly managed to get its own majority in Parliament with 235 out of 460 seats. The Citizens' Platform lost almost a third of its mandate and stayed on 138. At the same time, two new parties joined Parliament, rock singer Paweł Kukiz's populist party Kukiz'15 and the market-liberal Moderna. The United Left ended up outside Parliament.

It was not Kaczyński, the party leader, who came to lead the Law and Justice government, but Vice Party leader Beata Szydło. She was approved in Parliament in November. New Foreign Minister became Witold Waszczykowski, and new Defense Minister Antoni Macierewicz, a controversial politician who, among other things, claimed a conspiracy between the Russian Federation and former Prime Minister Tusk behind the 2010 plane crash, when, among others, President Lech Kaczyński perished.

President Duda said after the parliamentary elections that Poland opposes a new climate agreement that reduces the use of coal. He emphasized that such an agreement would mean poorer economy and increased social costs for Poland, which receives about 90% of its electricity from coal-fired power plants.

The outgoing government had agreed to receive at least 10,000 of the refugees the EU wanted to redistribute. But after the terrorist attack in Paris in November, representatives of the new government said that Poland could not accept refugees from the Middle East unless they were guaranteed that there were no terrorists among them.

Poland's relations with the Russian Federation deteriorated during the year. After it became clear that the Russian Federation had plans to station Iskander short-range robots in the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad, the Polish government decided to have a 50-meter high surveillance tower built along the border between Poland and Kaliningrad.

In September, Poland protested against the Russian ambassador, who claimed that Poland was an accomplice to the outbreak of World War II. The ambassador then lamented how he expressed himself. The Russian Federation, for its part, protested that a Soviet statue and Soviet war graves had been vandalized in Poland.

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