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Poland: Parliamentary Elections Scheduled For September

Warsaw, 25 June 1997 (RFE/RL) - Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski signed an official resolution today confirming Parliamentary elections will be held in Poland on September 21.

Announcing the news, the Presidential Press office in Warsaw said political parties will have until September 1 to register candidates with the State Electoral Commission. The main contenders are expected to be the co-ruling ex-communist Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) and the rightist Solidarity Election Action (AWS).

Poland's Lower house of parliament overwhelmingly approved three key bills today that would trigger a long-delayed program to reform the country's ailing social security system. The bills provide for creating new pensions funds and using proceeds from privatization of state-owned firms to finance the reform. If the Senate passes the bills before the September Parliamentary election, the reform will be launched in 1999.

Meanwhile, Poland's Parliament today rejected a bid by the ruling former communists to call a referendum on whether to continue to allow abortion for so-called social reasons, such as a pregnant woman's financial hardship.

Deputies voted by 197 to 178 with 14 abstentions to throw out the proposal for a vote on abortion at the same time as the elections. The abortion issue has already begun to figure strongly in campaigning for the upcoming contest.