What's Next for Poland

Turmoil in the capital, hurried elections, and a chill with Russia

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As the world reels from the tragic plane crash that killed Polish President Lech Kaczynski, as well as Poland's top military chiefs and national bank head, Poland must begin the difficult work of rebuilding. The country of 38 million, the economy worth $668 billion GDP, and the military of 100,000 standing forces all require leaders. Here's what's in store for Poland and what it must accomplish.

  • Prime Minister At Helm  The BBC Reports, "After an emergency meeting of ministers, [Prime Minister Donald] Tusk, who runs the day-to-day business of government, said a week of national mourning had been declared with two minutes of silence on Sunday at midday. Mr Tusk added: 'The Polish state must function and will function'." The Wall Street Journal's Gregory White adds, "Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk was on his way to Warsaw for an emergency meeting of the cabinet Saturday. According to the foreign ministry spokesman, the government will meet in early afternoon local time."
  • Day-to-Day Functions Continue  The Associated Press' Victoria Buravchenko suggests that, outside of the military, the daily work of the state will go uninterrupted. "The deaths were not expected to directly affect the functioning of Polish government: Poland's president is commander in chief of its armed forces but the position's domestic duties are chiefly symbolic. Most top government ministers were not aboard the plane."
  • What The Constitution Requires  The New York Times' Ellen Barry writes, "Under Poland’s Constitution, the leader of the lower house of Parliament, now acting president, has 14 days to announce new elections, which must then take place within 60 days." That man is Bronislaw Komorowski. The Wall Street Journal's Gregory White calls him "a key candidate in the presidential elections that would normally be scheduled in the autumn."
  • Will They Still Join Nuclear Summit?  The Hill's Eric Zimmerman notes, "Poland is set to participate in Monday's nuclear summit in Washington. There is no word yet on whether they will withdraw."
  • Lost Opportunity for Poland-Russia Thaw?  Newsweek's Arlyn Gajilan points out that Kacynski's trip, to the grace site of 20,000 Poles murdered by Soviet commanders in 1939, marked a unique opportunity. "Polish-Russian relations had been strained for decades following the massacre, which Russia has never officially apologized for. But Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's recent decision to attend the memorial ceremony in the forest near Katyn was seen as a gesture of reconciliation." Will chances for that reconciliation be lost?
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.