Sunday, July 09, 2006

Poles get double vision


Update: Sixty percent of Poles think that having the brothers in the top two government jobs is bad for the country, according to PBS

And so it came to pass: the Kaczyński brothers double act that they promised last year would never happen, just happened.

Rzepa quotes Jaroslaw Kaczynski: ‘We decided to take the risk and have a Prime Minister and President who are brothers.'

Opinion polls have been pretty consistent. Poles would rather not have identical twins who not only shared the same egg but also share the same political outlook in the two top jobs.

So why take the 'risk' in the first place?

Jaroslaw Kaczynski said at a press conference yesterday that the now ex-prime minister, Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz’s talents were needed to secure a win in the mayor of Warsaw vote this autumn.

Marcinkiewicz is easily Poland’s most popular politician with support that crosses the party political divide. The formal explanation for the sudden resignation is that Marcinkiewicz is to be groomed for the post of president of Poland sometime in the future. But others see different reasons behind the move.

The riff between Marcinkiewicz and the Kaczynskis must have got rather significant over the last few months. Marcinkiewicz is obviously his own man, appointing Pawel Wojciechowski as the new finance minister without asking permission from Jarolsaw, the real power behind the government.

And it looks like the first thing Jaroslaw will do now that he is prime minister is give poor old Pawel the boot and get someone else to head the finance ministry.

The weirdest part of all this is that the government is making Andrzej Lepper look like one of the most reasonable men in the cabinet! He has been on the TV lots sounding like the ‘honest broker’ between the different factions within the government.

His party, Samoobrona and the far-right LPR are now in a position to push for more say in what will effectively be another new government. They will threaten not to vote for Jarolsaw unless they get more concessions out of him. This will include demands for more social spending in the 2007 budget.

The ‘liberal-conservative’ opposition Civic Platform has predicted a drift into even more extremist policies now that the Kaczynski twins will be running the legislative and the executive.

But Platform’s bleating sounds rather lame. It was they, after all, who voted against the possibility of a general election earlier this year when Law and Justice could not manage to form a coalition.

What Poland needs more than anything is a period of political calm and stability. But that, sadly, is just wishful thinking.

The long hot Polish political summer continues.

19 comments:

Michael Farris said...

Ah, a fresh new scandal to put off that bothersome 'governing' business for a couple of weeks.

Anyone who voted once for this crew and would vote for them again is stupid. I really can't think of another word.

beatroot said...

So... Lech Kaczynski as president, Jaroslaw Kaczynski as prime minister...what next?

Ted Kaczynski as defense minister?

Eugene said...

I'm curious as to the genuine reason why Macinkiewicz stepped down.

It still hasn't been truly divulged. Marcinkiewicz hasn't made any revealing public statements, yet. Some sources say he and Kaczynski just squabbled on some petty political issues (still not clearly known), or the appointment of FM Wojciechowski by Marcinkiewicz without notifying Kaczynski about it first being another factor, and the meeting between Tusk and Marcinkiewicz. Such reasons are trivial and there is much more to it than meets the eye.

One suitable reason is that this entire episode was planned. PiS, is funneling Marcinkiewicz's popularity into an endorsement for Mayor of Warsaw, to retain and exert stronger Pis influence. If there really was a fallout between the president and former PM, there certainly would have been more talk of it.

The errors in this latest round of political ping-pong is Jaroslaw's acceptance of being PM. A third Minister of Finance in such a short time span also doesn't look good. Another candidate for PM should have been recommended, and Jaroslaw could have displayed some honor by not accepting.

Nice Beatroot, Ted Kaczynski for defense minister! He could be given parole and then subsequently acquitted by the US courts if he served satisfactorily in the Polish government.

Michael Farris said...

"It still hasn't been truly divulged"

Haven't you been paying attention? Nothing is ever truly divulged by this crew.

Once at the GW boards there was a comment that Warsaw gossip is that Lech's illness is more serious than previously disclosed and they want to make sure that at least one of the two is in a position of power (FYI only, I tend toward skepticism on that front).

To me though the question is: What does Jarosław think he can get done as PM that he can't get done as party chief? Stepping into the PM's shoes seems to be playing to his own weaknesses (the whole lack of democratic inclinations, diplomacy and ability to compromise thing). Not to mention the violation of yet another campaign promise.

I'm assuming for the time being it's just one more stalling tactic. Clearly PiS doesn't want to really try to get anything done in terms of governing and the latest diversion is that, yet another diversion meant to eat up the clock. When the next elections role around (presumably this fall or so) their campaign will be about how despite all the sabotage form dark forces, they've _amost_ rooted out the układ and now they're _this close_ to being able to set up that 4th Republic so vote for them. I really hope no one falls for it.

beatroot said...

Jarolsaw said they were taking the 'risk' of doing this. But why take a risk when you have the most popular politician in the country as PM?

I remember way back in January there was talk of a rift between marcinkiewicz and the rest of PiS. He does come from a different political background. He is christian free market. Kaczynskis are christian left.

So the row over the finance minister looks crucial to me.

And I don't think that is a 'trivial' issue. It's ideological. It's about economic policy. It's about poolitics.

Eugene said...

Until a contrary statement appears by Marcinkiewicz that explains his resignation, it may have been a planned move by the entire group. It is a possibility. Nobody loses in this proposition, and everyone benefits personally from it, although it may not be in the public's best interest. Jaroslaw gains PM, Marcinkiewicz might become Mayor of Warsaw (a shoe-in), and Lech retains the presidency, with a twin backup as Michael mentioned.

Michael, Lech's illness still has the lid on it. Until the press gets hold on just how serious his illness is, it's only speculation, but a possiblity as well. You said:
"I'm assuming for the time being it's just one more stalling tactic. Clearly PiS doesn't want to really try to get anything done in terms of governing and the latest diversion is that, yet another diversion meant to eat up the clock."

Could be. Then again, what did the previous government really achieve that was impressive? Sending Poles to Iraq?

Beatroot, you said:
"Jaroslaw said they were taking the 'risk' of doing this. But why take a risk when you have the most popular politician in the country as PM?"

Possibly, due to Marcinkiewicz's utmost devotion to PiS? Remember, he does belong to PiS, even though his economic policies and political background differ from Kaczynski's. He might be satisfied in running Warsaw, and nothing beyond that. I would like to see more personal statements made by Marcinkiewicz in the news, reflecting his thoughts on the change of the guards. So far he hasn't expressed any resentment on what had happened. He should issue some reason to the public, instead of keeping us in the dark.

There has to be more going on behind the scenes than we realize.

eulogist said...

I wonder if this twin business and the (even stronger) shift to the right that can be expected is necessarily a bad thing. It is, of course, in the short run. But in the longer run, it could make the election of a more reasonable government more likely next time, and stand out as a bad example for years to come.

Yes, George W's re-election in 2004 seems to contradict that reasoning. But unlike Poland, America is at war (or thinks it is), which offers much more powerful possibilities to brandish opponents as traitors or threats to the national security (I'm just back from former Yugoslavia, my thinking may be a bit warped).

beatroot said...

Eulogist, Hi. I will be going to former Yugoslavia so I am getting ready for a mind warp!

....in the longer run, it could make the election of a more reasonable government more likely ..

This is the thinking behind the opposition Civic Platform's 'tactics' (if that is the right word) ...let the government get in a pickle and then everyone will go out in droves at vote for the Reasonable Party'. I have my doubts about that but the Polish political swings and round abouts does say that Poles never vote for the same government twice.

Eugine: There has to be more going on behind the scenes than we realize.

Has Macinkiewicz a deep love for PiS? No. PiS is not like western parties like the republicans or the UK Labour party with hundreds of years of tradition etc. Polish political parties are temporary groupings for short term political ends. I still think he could be tempted away into a Platform type party, when the time is right.

Eugene said...

Beatroot: "Has Macinkiewicz a deep love for PiS? No."

We really don't know that for sure. Reuters today in a news flash by T. Janowski spoke of a Tactical Move by Kaczynski:

"Save for Kluza, few changes in the cabinet are expected as Kaczynski has insisted the shake-up was a tactical move ahead of local elections in November. Marcinkiewicz will run for the Law and Justice for the influential post of Warsaw mayor.

If this statement is true, then Marcinkiewicz's representation for PiS in running for mayor of Warsaw confirms his alliance with that party for the time being. He hasn't opposed this comment by Kaczynski.

As you mentioned, that also may be what Kaczynski would like many to believe. The truth is out there! (X-Files)

beatroot said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
beatroot said...

This is the second time I have tried to put his comment on. I am getting really really really pissed off this blogger.com rubbish!!!!

Yes, Eugene, Polish politics is a weird one: that’s what makes it so interesting.

A\tactical move? Tactical moves are planned, by definition. When the news came out on Friday evening, after all the main news bulletins had finished, it looked like it was decidedly unplanned.

When you make these sorts of ‘risky’ tactical moves you prepare the ground carefully, you plan the PR, you ‘manage’ the news.

This looked like a messy, hurried announcement. It didn’t look planned at all.

So wither it was not planned – in whuch case it suggests that \Jaroslaw decided to take the bull by the horns and sideline Marcinkiewicz, or it was planned but very very badly.

eulogist said...

Next time tell me beforehand, beatroot, so we can synchronise our travel schedules ;-)

From what I read on the PM shuffle, the impression I get is that there is no deeper strategy behind the move, either on the Kaczynski or on the Marcinkiewicz side.

We should not underestimate the degree to which politicians believe in their own message and vote-winning capacities. I think the Kaczynskis just grabbed an opportunity to get rid of Marcinkiewicz so they could carry out their conservative policies. Probably they really believe this will win them the next elections.

Often, political strategies are that simple.

Eugene said...

If Kaczynski really canned Marcinkiewicz, there would have been reports of some expected backlash and unpleasant dialogue between the two. That hasn't happened, and it keeps me wondering. The press only showed Marcinkiewicz smiling and shaking their hands, nothing else.

I'm patiently awaiting Marcinkiewicz's latest public announcement providing more insight to the situation.

It's too hot to work outside and proceed with my cement work, so in the meantime at least I can enjoy some political discussion. Better yet, I think I'll pack some sandwiches and drink into my backpack, hop on my mountain bike, and go take a dip into the Dunajec river today. That should cool me off nicely.

beatroot said...

Sounds lovely, Eugene. Laying concrete in this heat? On your bike, son!

I'll just stay at home and nurse my cracked rib (hurts like a motherf...r

Eugene said...

Ouch Beatroot! What did you do to your rib?

I just got back home. The Dunajec river was fabulous...nice and cold. It seems like everyone's getting injured these days. About eleven days ago, I was cutting weeds and grass around my house with a scythe (yes, a scythe!) and I almost cut off my right thumb while honing the blade. It was all stitched up, and now much better. Silly me!

beatroot said...

Sythe....eeek! I was out running with my dog - we got faster and faster...and then he says a mate of his to the right, datrs across me, I go arse over tit...land on my ribs.

Bad shoulder strained wrists and broken ribs. Nice!

Michael Farris said...

"I go arse over tit...land on my ribs."

Now why would you ever want to land on your _ribs_? I'm sorry, I just don't see the logic in that. Wouldn't it have made more sense to land on your feet (or just not fall in the first place?)

Anonymous said...

I invite everybody to research about the "Kartoffelgate", potato affair, Polish president jaked at in a German satyrical magazine, wants to put journalist to prison. Made great fool of himself and whole Poland is laughing at him. Germany too...

Anonymous said...

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