Who should ex-pats vote for in the Polish local elections this Sunday?
Since the Maastricht Treaty in 1992 foreigners with an EU passport can vote in municipal and European elections anywhere they are resident. So you would think that the government, and media aimed at foreigners resident in Poland, would be overflowing with especially tailored information about the Polish local elections, the first round of which takes place on Sunday.
In fact, the opposite is the case. Despite contributing to the local taxes that pay for the (sometimes non existent) services it’s as if the ex-pat is an unwanted guest at the Polish ballot box. The government web site on the municipal elections is dreadful. And when foreign media have covered it, they mostly don’t even bother to mention that we can be involved too (no surprise that as the English language media in Poland is generally worse than useless).
In Warsaw, two candidates have a chance of winning the mayoral election – ex-Prime Minister Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz of the ruling Law and Justice party, and ex-head of the Central bank, Hanna Gronkiewicz Waltz (of the main opposition Civic Platform). In third place will be ex-communist Marek Borowski (in an alliance of left wing parties). Unless one candidate gets over 50% of the vote – which is unlikely – then the contest goes to a second round in two weeks time when the top two candidates go head-to-head. As most of Borowski’s votes will go to Gronkiewicz-Waltz then she is favourite to become mayor.
So who will I vote for? Well, sorry, but all the candidates’ politics are so alien to me that I am not going to bother. Although I am tempted by one of them.
There is an alternative – it’s orange
During the Martial Law period, 1981-2, strange graffiti, drawings of gnomes wearing orange hats, began to appear on the walls of buildings. The artists were from the Orange Alternative, headed by Waldemar Fydrych, known to his friends as ‘the Major”. Whereas Solidarity thought it could whip the communists by strike action, Fydrych decided he would lampoon, mock and humiliate the communists out of power.
His method of protest was based on the Situationists of Paris 1968 (‘under the pavement the beach!’). His supporters would roam the streets handing out tampons to women (sanitary towels, like everything else, were in short supply in those dark days); Frydrych also had, and has, a thing about gnomes and dwarfs, which for some reason have an association with freedom for him. He once said: “Can you treat a police officer seriously, when he is asking you the question: 'Why did you participate in an illegal meeting of dwarfs?" But arrest him they did. Many times. Gnomes, dwarfs and elves, were subversive for the Polish communist. That’s how sad, insecure and pathetic they were.
Since gnome-power brought communism to its knees, he has stood in a few elections since 1989 and now he wants to be Mayor of Warsaw. And if the quality of the other candidates is anything to go by then I see no reason why a pro-dwarfist shouldn’t get the top job.
Other candidates taking part in the Warsaw Mayor election are:
Włodzimierz Całka (independent)
Marek Czarnecki (Self defense)
Janusz Korwin-Mikke (conservative, free market, monarchist weirdo independent)
Wanda Nowicka (independent, feminist)
Wojciech Wierzejski (League of Polish Families)
We will be blogging from 20.00 CET Sunday night when the exit poll results of the first round of the nationwide local elections are released. See you then.
Saturday, November 11, 2006
Posted by beatroot at 11/11/2006