Monday, December 15, 2014

Thousands protest election results in Poland

Thousands of supporters of the main opposition party, the conservative Law and Justice, gather at the Three Crosses square in Warsaw, Poland, Saturday, Dec. 13, 2014. Alik Keplicz/AP 
Vanessa GeraThe Associated Press
Thousands of supporters of a conservative opposition party in Poland marched on Saturday to protest the results of recent local elections, which party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski says were falsified.

The November elections were marred by problems, with a computer glitch delaying results and many ballots declared invalid because voters apparently were confused and marked them incorrectly.

However, there is no indication they were falsified. Kaczynski’s critics accuse him of making false claims about the election outcome to motivate his base ahead of national elections next year.

His supporters marched in Warsaw under the slogan “in the support of democracy,” chanting “repeat the elections.”

Kaczynski’s party, Law and Justice, won the most votes in recent elections but got fewer seats in local assemblies than the governing Civic Platform due to the way seats are apportioned. Exit polls had shown Law and Justice with a larger margin than it ended up getting.

“The current authorities have begun a media campaign against everyone who says that falsification occurred,” Kaczynski told protesters in a speech, calling this a “disgrace.”

Law and Justice led the government from 2005 to 2007, with Kaczynski as prime minister for part of the time. Kaczynski has failed to win any national elections since then.

His critics say that his claim of falsified elections results are the second major “lie” he has promoted. Kaczynski has also said that a plane crash in Smolensk, Russia, in 2010 that killed his brother, President Lech Kaczynski, and 95 others, was not an accident. He accuses Russian leader Vladimir Putin and former Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk of conspiring in an assassination.

A Polish state investigation said the plane crashed due to a confluence of problems, including bad weather, pilot error and the rudimentary state of the Russian airport in Smolensk.

Saturday’s protest was held on the 33rd anniversary of martial law, the 1981 crackdown by communist rulers against Solidarity. Marchers also remembered those killed by the authorities.

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