...because it will fail to reduce the influence and size of the state.
In a perceptive article in Reason magazine - Is Liberalism Dead in Central Europe? - Marian Tupy reminds us, as this blog has done many times, that when the Western press labels members of the Polish government ‘right wing’, or even ‘far-right’, they are missing an important point:
‘Of the Central European countries—Slovakia, Hungary, Poland, and the Czech Republic—all but the Czech Republic are seeing the rise of politicians who combine “right-wing” attitudes toward public and private morality with “left-wing” ideas about economics. Demands for tax hikes, price controls, tighter labor regulations, and renationalization of privatized property mix freely with calls for a return to faith, traditional family values, and restrictions on sexual autonomy.
Polish PM Jaroslaw Kaczynski is not a central European version of Margaret Thatcher. If they met he would call her an economic ‘liberalizer’ (a dirty word in Polish government circles) while she would give him a sharp whack over the head with her handbag and accuse him of being a bit of a [whisper it] ‘socialist’.
And it’s the attachment that all the elements of the current governing coalition – PiS, LPR, Samoobrona – have to maintaining the state as central to their redistributive, protectionist economic agenda that will limit any success in the Kaczynski’s central platform: to rid Poland of the corruption that has taken hold since the fall of communism.
It’s telling that there hasn’t been a big backlash against liberal reformers in Estonia, the country that has gone furthest in the transition from communism to free markets. In their Baltic outpost miles to the east of Central Europe, the Estonians have greatly reduced the size and scope of government and, as a result, limited corruption as well.
From Tupy’s perspective any battle against corruption and sleaze is doomed if they do not reduce the size and role of the state.
I would also add that to seriously put a dent in Polish corruption the government must also seriously tackle the connection between the political class and the public sector.
But since taking power PiS has passed laws that actually make it easier to get rid of top civil and public servants, only to be replaced, of course, with functionaries more amenable to their political outlook and project.
Old boys’ networks are replaced by New Boys’ networks, and the opportunity for corruption and nepotism is obvious, tempting, irresistible.