“Every nation gets the government it deserves,” said de Maistre. We’ve now had the same one for six years, with two to go, and it’s long gone stale. PO and PiS have been the two leading parties since 2005. Back then, these opportunistic political bedfellows promised each other that whoever won the most seats would be the senior member of a coalition.
Like a manifesto, PiS reneged on their promise, forming a coalition by cutting deals with two fringe, er… political parties. Didn’t work out well. I feel a certain degree of sympathy for Andrzej ‘Spud’ Lepper. Finding himself in the corridors of power, the success and the situation turned his head. On the one hand vetting female staff by their willingness to sleep with him (how desperate would you have to be!). On the other, allegedly taking bribes. As the noose tightened around him, Lepper chose not to hang around, though only metaphorically.
That paragon of family values, Giertych, would hardly be suspected of doing such a thing. Giertych, a wonderful advocate apparently, can’t quite appeal beyond a very narrow fan base. In an age where image counts over substance, Roman couldn’t quite pull off senatorial or statesman-like sartorial elegance. Buying his suits off the bargain rack, his clothes were often ill-fitting, suit sleeves too long, no matter how often he tried to roll them up.
Not that the lunatic right can demonstrate an understanding beyond physical violence. What irony there was on that Independence Day a few years back when Polish nazis marched in the capital to be confronted by German anti-fascist anarchists. This year, some in Warsaw celebrated Independence Day by turning up the heating outside the Russian embassy. Those who stayed in Krakow spent part of the day up on pl. Matejki applauding British fascist leader Nick Griffin, whose ‘party’ would happily deport/repatriate hundreds of thousands of Poles resident in the UK. Somewhere else in the city, Jarek addressed the faithful, and 500 visiting Hungarian rightists joined in the applause.
Is there an alternative worth the candle? Twoj Ruch (Your Movement), formerly Ruch Palikota, shook things up a bit last time. The party, hastily formed two months before polling, garnering 10 percent of the vote and 40 seats in parliament, making them the third largest force behind PiS and PO. They did score a couple of notable firsts with Anna Grodzka becoming the first transsexual parliamentarian in Europe and Robert Biedroń the first gay MP in Poland – sorry, the first openly gay MP. The right to abortion, an end to religious control over schools, legalisation for same-sex marriages and cannabis are some of the issues Twoj Ruch is well known for. On many social issues there is little to distinguish them from the former Communists. Twoj Ruch’s leaders are mostly entrepreneurs, not social reformers. Where this ‘movement’ is headed is anyone’s guess.
Poland may look for inspiration from abroad. Tusk looked to Ireland as a model and promised miracles and nothing else, which is exactly what he has delivered. Ireland has, for decades, been held back by politicians working to almost exclusively local interests, often ignoring the national interest. It’s different here. In Poland, so I’m told, those who aspire to power, and retaining it, recognise it’s necessary to make things better for themselves, rather than acting in the national interest. As reluctant as pigs to the trough.
How will things work out next time? Were current polls accurate at a general election, PiS would be the largest party and would have to form a coalition with PO or the ex-communist SLD. The responsibility will be yours. I don’t have a vote.
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