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18. July 2019

How will mayor Paweł Adamowicz’s killing affect Polish politics?

The brutal, high-profile killing of the opposition-linked mayor of one of Poland’s largest and most politically important cities produced fiercely contested interpretations of its meaning and significance. But experience suggests that ‘martyrdom politics’ is not an effective political strategy and, although the tragedy was an extremely traumatic one for Polish society, it will probably be subsumed within existing divisions rather than representing a game changer. In January, Paweł Adamowicz, an opposition-affiliated politician who was mayor of the northern Polish coastal city of Gdańsk since 1998, died after being fatally stabbed while taking part in the local finale of the so-called Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity (WOŚP), Poland’s largest annual charity drive organised outside of the Catholic Church.

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