Saturday, November 25, 2006

Will Hanna blow it?


The second round of the Mayor of Warsaw election looks too close to call.

Much of the campaign leading up to the second round of the mayoral elections this Sunday had to be cancelled after the 23 deaths down a Ruda Slaska mine on Tuesday.

The election silence hasn’t done government candidates any harm. The opinion polls in the race for Warsaw Town Hall show Law and Justice’s (PiS) candidate Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz and Civic Platform’s (PO) Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz neck and neck. After the first round two weeks ago Gronkiewicz-Waltz had a ten point lead. But she had been hemorrhaging support ever since. In fact, in one poll published in Gazeta Wyborcza she was actually behind by two percentage points.

If Platform can’t even win the Mayor of Warsaw election tomorrow it will be a damning indictment of their opposition (or lack of it) to the present government, whose reign in office over the last 12 months has little to show for it, except the chaos of endless coalition building.

There is a daily newspaper in Warsaw which gives awards for the ‘Best Law of the Year’ every December. Such is the lack of any significant lawmaking by the present ‘law makers’ that I can ‘reveal’ that the editors are having trouble coming up with good enough laws to give awards to.

So you would think that Civic Platform would be crawling all over such a weak government and would be winning mayoral elections easily – especially in the capital.

Incumbent mayors have a real advantage in Poland, for some reason, and are very hard to dislodge. So Marcinkiewicz, the current mayor, has that advantage. But if Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz doesn’t win tomorrow then Platform election headquarters will be a very gloomy place to be indeed. But it will be their own fault.

11 comments:

Michael Farris said...

Again, I don't think Jan "Dupek" Rokita helped any, making PO seem like a bunch of weak, incompetent squabblers (which appears to be, in fact, what they are) at exactly the worst possible time.

Also, the mining disaster has essentially eclipsed all other news at just the worse possible moment for PO (when they looked their worst) so that last minute endorsements which under normal circumstances might help G-W have had no impact.

Borowski finally got his head out of his ass and realized that the alternative to Gronkiewicz-Waltz was going to be a massive (psychological) victory for PiS (which would help him no more than it would PO) and his last minute almost-endorsement was too little, too late.


My prediction. Very low turnout which will be good for PiS. Marcinkiewicz (most popular member of PiS afterall) will win and his victory will be spun as some kind of national mandate for the current coalition.

I think at one time PO had potential, but at present is hopeless mismanaged. New, competent, leadership is desperately needed. Even with the problems mentioned there's no excuse for the sheer magnitude of incompetence the PO machine has shown for the last 10 days or so.
They need to dump Tusk and Rokita to the backbencher positions they were born to fulfill (assuming there's anyone more competent to take their place).


But then PiS is far better at campaigning than at governing and the Kaczynskis eternal need to tinker with coalitions and never let a deal be done mean more of the same.
But then given the nature of this coalition I'm not going to complain, at this point gridlock and stasis are about as much as can be hoped for.

sonia said...

government (...) has little to show for it, except the chaos of endless coalition building

From a libertarian point of view, that's as close to a perfect government as it can possibly get. Italy had such governments since 1945 and prospered mightily during that time...

opamp said...

Such is the lack of any significant lawmaking by the present ‘law makers’ that I can ‘reveal’ that the editors are having trouble coming up with good enough laws to give awards to.

Thank God. The last thing this country needs is more laws. The lawmaking craze in previous years has produced such mountains of new regulations, that even professionals were having problems with keeping track of it (particularly important in the area of taxes etc.).

I've said one year ago that Kaczynskis will go to the history books as great leaders, simply because of not really doing anything and leaving the economy to grow by itself. So far my prediction has been fullfilling.

beatroot said...

But they have been making laws, just not very good ones that DO affect the economy. Look at the new Banking Supervisory Board. Finance sector hates it.

Sonia - from a libertarian point of view governments are there to enable libertarian policies. That means making new laws so that can happen.

Mike: You say that PO needs new leadership, but Polish political parties are basically just leadership vehicles. So, take Tusk and Rokita out of Platforma and you have no Platform. Polish political parties are not like those in the US or UK. They have no roots or history in society at all.

sonia said...

enable libertarian policies. That means making new laws so that can happen.

It's a lot more simple than that. Not making any new laws (and most importantly, not ENFORCING existing ones) is usually quite sufficent.

Libertarianism isn't just another ideology. It's an anti-ideology that believes that governments should leave people alone...

beatroot said...

Not making any new laws (and most importantly, not ENFORCING existing ones) is usually quite sufficent.

Sonia, if there are laws that prohibit liberty then you have to make laws to get rid of the oppressive lars.

And libertarianism isn't about having no laws. It's about the principle of self-determination for individuals, collectivities of any sort and nation states.

opamp said...

Polish political parties are not like those in the US or UK. They have no roots or history in society at all.

Actually there is one party which does have historical roots - PSL. It has a more or less continuous history (though there were various incarnations of this party) dating back to 1895 (yes, 19th century!). PSL was a very important actor in the 1918-1939 era, and its leader, Wincenty Witos was even a Prime Minister. PSL survived the communism (under the name of ZSL), by becoming the satellite party of the PZPR, however its structures were independent of PZPR. And in '89 they renamed themselves to PSL again.

The various incarnations of PSL always had dedicated following, because it was always a party representing the interests of Polish peasants. Its position only became seriously undermined in the 90s by the rise of Lepper's Samoobrona.

What the contemporary PSL politicians did with this legacy is of course another matter.

beatroot said...

I suppose SLD can be included in 'parties with roots' too...

opamp said...

beatroot,

Of course. That's the whole problem with SLD. ;-)

The difference between them and PSL is that various incarnations of PSL have always represented the interests of peasants, while SLD and its predecessors represented the interests of... well, who?

beatroot said...

...er....the interests of the....um....nomenklatura?

vaginas said...

The author is absolutely right, and there is no question.