Poland. The 2010 Russian Federation air disaster,
including the death of President Lech Kaczyński,
continued to cast its shadow over Poland. According to
Countryaah official site, the Russian accident
investigation's final report came in January, and it blamed
the Polish pilots for the accident. The reaction in Poland
was fierce, as many considered that the Russian Federation
was at fault in the accident, when a total of 96 people were
killed, among them a number of leading people in Polish
But the Russian conclusions were partially confirmed by
the Polish accident report which came in July. The pilots'
mistakes were said to be the main cause, while the actions
of the Russian air traffic controllers were rejected as well
as the lighting at the airport in Smolensk. The Polish
Defense Minister resigned as a result of the Polish report.
A number of senior military officers and officials were also
allowed to leave their posts.
The dead president's twin brother, former Prime Minister
Jarosław Kaczyński, accused the Russian federation of the
accident, saying that the Polish government bowed to Moscow,
which the government rejected. Jarosław Kaczyński boycotted
the official memorial ceremony one year after the accident.
At the turn of the year, Poland became the EU country for
the first time. Prime Minister Donald Tusk and his
government were keen to give a new and EU-positive image of
Poland, in contrast to the EU-critical policy that the
former Polish leadership under the Kaczyński brothers.
In August, the disputed politician and former minister
Andrzej Lepper committed suicide. The EU-critical Lepper had
been leader of the populist and nationalist self-defense
Large demonstrations were held during the year with
demands for higher wages and in protest of the reduction in
unemployment support. But even though unemployment was 12%,
Poland was the only country in the EU to have survived the
2008-10 financial crisis without recession. For 2011, GDP
growth was forecast at 4%, higher than in the largest EU
economies. The economic situation helped Prime Minister Tusk
and his center-right Party Citizen Platform (PO) win the
parliamentary elections in October. It was the first time a
government was re-elected after the fall of communism in
The PO did lose some votes and a few seats, but the
coalition's scarce victory was enough for continued
government ownership. The PO got just over 39% of the vote
and the rural-oriented coalition party the Polish People's
Party (PSL) 8.4%. It gave the government a majority in
parliament with 238 out of 460 seats. Jarosław Kaczyński's
Conservative opposition party Law and Justice (PiS), which
also declined, received just under 30% of the vote. Most
lost was the Social Democratic Left Alliance SLD, which had
to settle for just over 8%. The only party that emerged was
the newly formed Liberal and Anti-Church Palico Movement
(RP), which unexpectedly took 10% and 40 seats in its first
election. RP, which says yes to abortion and same-sex
marriage, was supported mainly by young voters in the cities
and became the third largest party. The leader is former
vodka magnate Janusz Palikot.
Despite GDP growth, Tusk's new government proposed
controversial austerity measures, including raising the
retirement age and withdrawing certain tax and pension
benefits. According to Tusk, Poland must prevent the country
from suffering the consequences of the ongoing euro crisis.
The Government's goal is to reduce the budget deficit to 1%
During the autumn, the Palico movement demanded that a
crucifix in Parliament's lower house, the Sejm, be removed.
According to Palikot, it is contrary to Poland's secular
constitution if the state is not neutral on religious
issues. The Conservative Party Law and Justice protested and
described the conflict as a cultural struggle, not only
about religion but also about patriotism and national pride.
The Catholic Church's strong influence in society is linked
to the opposition to the former communist dictatorship.