Before Brussels Summit (12-12-2003) - Referendum Outcome - Poland vs EU

Since my last articles which I posted about balance of Polish benefits and shortcomings in European Union - a situation on a political scene of Europe has changed.
Before we will focus on Poland's fight for Christian values and preserving Nice voting system to counterbalance France and Germany as dominant powers in EU (Brussels summit, December 2003) lets talk about the outcome of EU accession referendum in Poland and other countries candidates.

In spite of some skepticism among their citizens, Poland and all other Eastern European countries voted "YES" to join European Union. They would become the official members in April 2004. Now they can participate in EU meetings as active candidates and future members.

The atmosphere just before elections in Poland (June 7-8, 2003) was uneasy. Polish euroskeptics were quite active in voicing their opinion. But there was not a real debate between pro-EU and anti-EU fraction in mass media. Pro-EU campaign also was seen as not very convincing.
Since the end of communism a turnover in Polish elections was low, usually less than 50%. Although majority of people who were going to vote supported joining the EU, there was a fear that the Poles would just ignore the elections and a turnover would be less than 50% necessary to validate referendum. This was a weapon - euro-skeptics were counting on. No wonder that mass media all around Europe were very concerned about Poland, especially that the population of Poland is as big as seven other countries combined. Polish leftist government which strongly supported joining the EU even extended the referendum time from one day to two days (Saturday and Sundays). In spite of that the turnover on Saturday was very low, Poles were just not used to vote on Saturdays. Majority of Poles showed up at the polls on Sunday afternoon. The turnover was much higher than expected, 58.85% Poles were voting.

Some statistics:
29.86 millions Poles were eligible to vote. 17.57 million Poles voted, 99.28% of votes were valid (17.45 millions). Among voters - 13.51 millions (77.45%) were for joining the EU, 3.93 millions (22.55%) were voting against it.


President Aleksander Kwasniewski hailed the result, telling cheering crowds in Warsaw: We have returned to the European family.
Polish pope is credited for encouraging Poles to vote to join EU. He said Europe needs Poland and Poland needs Europe. Bishops and priests were encouraging people to vote without taking the sides openly. Attitudes about Polish clergy were mixed. One radiostation, Radio Maryja, run by a Polish priest, father Rydzyk, and very popular all around Poland was openly against it. Cardinal Jozef Glemp, head of the Polish church, pronounced: I am not a Euro-enthusiast. I'm a Euro-fatalist. Europe is Poland's destiny.
Read about the Results of the Accession Referendum for ten countries-candidates. Read the selection of the articles about Poland in EU and the Poles attitueds towards the EU.

written by Jagoda Urban-Klaehn (article #146)


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