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Lech Walesa's
son--moderate on gays--launches political career
in Poland

Lech Walesa's
son--moderate on gays--launches political career
in Poland

Jaroslaw Walesa, the 29-year-old son of Solidarity founder Lech Walesa, pledged Tuesday to uphold Roman Catholic and family values as he begins his career in parliament but said he considers some of his father's more traditional ideas outdated. In last month's election, Jaroslaw Walesa won a parliamentary seat in his home city of Gdansk for the pro-business Civic Platform Party. He is one of the youngest members of the lower house, or Sejm, which convenes Wednesday. In an interview with the Associated Press, he said he hopes to help bring Poland, which joined the European Union last year, closer to the West. But he said he also wants to preserve the Roman Catholic values that inspired his father's anticommunist convictions. He cited euthanasia, abortion, same-sex marriage, and adoptions by gays as issues that his father takes a "clear" line in opposing but on which he takes a more open approach. "I believe such a sure and hardheaded stance is no longer practical or beneficial to anyone," he said in fluent English, perfected during eight years studying and working in the United States. Civic Platform is currently in negotiations to form a center-right coalition government with a more traditionally minded conservative party, Law and Justice. Sporting a goatee, sports shoes, and jeans, the younger Walesa is more reminiscent of a student starting college than a politician about to enter parliament. Still, he is clearly aware of the responsibility that comes with his famous name. The elder Walesa was Poland's president from 1990 to 1995. "I didn't have to invest a lot of energy into making my name known because it's already a brand name," he said. "But some people who want to say something to my father say it to me instead, and they expect me to carry that burden." (AP)

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