BACK TO THE FUTURE IN POLAND

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Poland has elected a new communist president, but he is not expected to take the country back to the old ways. Aleksander Kwansniewski, a 41-year-old former communist party minister, captured 51.7 percent of the vote in weekend elections, edging out President Lech Walesa, who drew 48.2 percent. "The real surprise is that Walesa was able to make this a race at all," TIME's Tadeusz Kucharski reports from Warsaw. "He was trailing badly as recently as six months ago, so his comeback is striking. Kwansniewski's victory shows that Polish people do not want the church interfering in politics. Walesa had the active backing of the Catholic Church and it didn't generate great support for him. Walesa also had the blessing of Solidarity, but Solidarity has very little influence compared to what it had in the first elections six years ago. Kwansniewski has said he supports a movement toward privatization, but no one expects him to go about this energetically. He will probably not make too many structural changes in Poland's economy. One thing he will do is liberalize the abortion laws in Poland, which only allow for abortion in the case of rape, incest, or threat of life to the mother. Other than that, Kwansniewski is expected to basically maintain the status quo."