Election Day

 

 

Exactly two months and ten days ago, a great tragedy occurred near Smolensk, Russia. A plane carrying many Polish heads of state (including President Lech Kazcynski and his wife) crashed in a lonely forest, killing all 96 passengers. This crash left a void in the hearts of many Poles.  

Today, 20 June 2010, the people of Poland have a chance to decide who will take the place of their fallen president. Will it be Broniław Komorowski, who has been leading recent polls? Or perhaps  Jarosław Kazcynski, twin brother of the late president? Only the people of Poland can choose, and today, they will cast their votes and decide.  

From my observations, the Polish electoral process is very much the same and yet still very different from that of the  United States of America. 

 

 

 

First, the similarities. From the bit of Polish news that I’ve watched, coverage of the election seems just as important here as back home. The news stations inform people of candidates’ places in the polls, as well as their travels around the country. 

TV election coverage, similar to the US.

  

  In addition, I’ve seen posters and billboards all over the city promoting the two main candidates (as well as some of the more random ones – think the Ralph Naders of Poland). In these respects, the Polish election process is very much like the American.  

One of the candidates you don't always hear about in America (think Ralph Nader)

  

However, this election seems so much calmer than any American election that I can remember. (True, I can only remember about three…but still.) The commercials for candidates are not awful and obnoxious like at home – in fact, it’s completely the opposite. I’ve only seen two political commercials the entire two weeks that I’ve been in Poland. I’m sure that this state of calm has to do with the circumstances surrounding the election, but it is still a very nice change from all of the crazed finger-pointing and name-calling that spouted during America’s last election.  

At about 10:00 this morning (Poland time, of course) I had the privilege of accompanying my host family to the polling station.  

  

It reminded me of going with my parents to vote in the Crawfordsville Legion Hall, except I didn’t know any of the people and there were Polish flags instead of American hanging on the wall. Other than that, the whole experience felt quite familiar. There was a ballot box (my host mom let me place hers into it ;) ), little “privacy boxes” for people to mark their ballots and a few stoic-looking ladies watching over the entire process (and the reason I didn’t take any pictures inside). I was surprised by how short the ballot itself was. There were instructions written at the top, and then the names of ten presidential candidates with boxes beside them. A voter simply had to check the box beside the name of their preferred candidate and put their ballot in the box. Yes, I realize that’s the same as in America, but this seemed more simple. Perhaps it’s because we’ve never had only a presidential election in America – there’s always people running for other, more local offices at the same time, making the ballot longer.  

That’s about all for today. I’ll (hopefully) update with the rest of this weekend’s events tomorrow evening.  

Love,  

Taylor

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