For too long now there has been no real choice for the left in Poland's elections. This has meant that the left electorate has had to support candidates with whom they have no real affiliation or abstain altogether from the electoral process. This will be the case for large sections of the left in the forthcoming local elections. However, in Wrocław some progress has been made in creating a broad coalition that includes the Democratic Left Alliance, the Greens and some genuine independent activists from the left.
The best example of this is the candidacy of Michał Syska. Syska has been a long-time activist from the social democratic left in Poland. Although presently not a member of a party, Syska is a leading member of Krytyka Polityczna and is also director of the left think-tank Ośrodek Myśli Społecznej im. F. Lassalle, which has organised a number of important events around issues such as the privatisation of hospitals and the commercialisation of education. Another major iniative of this group has been to draw up a coherent left-green programme for Wrocław ('Another Wrocław is Possible') and organise a conference around this.
Syska has managed to present a clear left programme for Wrocław, while focussing on local issues. His manifesto includes introducing medical care into schools, providing extra-curricular activies for school children; building a proper cycle path networ in the city, opposing the present administration's promotion of private nurseries and supporting the development of the city's infrastructure for the elderly. Although Wrocław is one of the country's fastest growing cities, Syska has pointed out how it has become a place of huge contrasts and social divisions. Away from the pituresque old-town and market square lie areas of large poverty and social neglect. Public services (such as nurseries and hospitals) are often neglected and subordinated to private developments.
Michał Syska is standing for local councillor on a left-green platform that includes supporting the economic development of the city, whilst protecting public services and creating a city that serves the majority and not the privelleged few. There have been too few opporunities in recent years to fully give one's support to candidates in elections. But this is one of them. Powodzenia Michał, trzymam kciuki!