He remains popular with many, but is this just a mixture of nostalgia and another example of vacuous ‘personality politics’?
What have actor Sidney Poitier and former communist, former president of Poland, Aleksander Kwasniewski, got in common?
They – along with British novelist Ian McEwan – have won some award in the US:
Actor Sidney Poitier, author Ian McEwan, a journalist and a former president of Poland are this year's Common Wealth Awards winners, according to a trust committee member who helped make the decisions.
Connie Bond Stuart, PNC Bank Delaware president, said the awards recognize people who demonstrate both excellence in their fields and serve as an inspiration to others to follow in their footsteps.
And a poll on the pages of the new (and good) tvn24.pl web site finds that 64% would vote for former president Aleksander Kwasniewski if he started up a new party today.
Good news for Kwasniewski, as this week he appears to have announced a comeback.
Poland's former president Aleksander Kwasniewski, 52, has announced he intends to return to politics in the wake of what he terms controversial policy moves by Poland's current right- wing populist Law and Justice (PiS) government, according to the liberal Gazeta Wyborcza daily.
'Today.... you can see the take-over of the state by the governing party, the party taking control of areas which should be part of a democratic state or civil society - you can see it everywhere,' Kwasniewski said, referring to the governing conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party.
Of course, self selecting internet ‘polls’ prove nothing at all, but Kwasniewski has retained much of the support he had throughout his two terms as president between 1995 and 2005.
In those days he was by far the most popular politician in the country – even with some of the old Solidarity supporters.
It was only towards the end of his term in office that many began to get disenchanted – particularly after the honours he gave to a few dubious people on leaving the presidential palace (think Clintonesque cronyism).
And now the bad news
Marek Dochnal, three years ago one of the most influential lobbyists in Poland, for the past two and a half years under arrest on charges of large scale corruption, has testified that Poland's most prominent left-wing politicians accepted huge bribes back when they were in power (more here).
The politicians in question are (allegedly) former SLD PM Leszek Miller, and Aleksander Kwasniewski.
The word of a convicted criminal is not very good witness, but the smell of sleaze clings to all ex-communist politicians here, often for good reason.
Last week more news confirmed this, with lurid details of post communist corruption in taped recorded conversations between another former prime minister, Jozef Oleksy, and businessmen. The SLD has some friends in low places, no doubt about that.
So why is Kwasniewski still popular? It’s certainly not his policies: he hasn’t really given us any, yet. He makes the usual, healing noises about ‘dialogue’, blah, blah. But that’s about it.
Maybe his popularity has more to do with the fact that Poland in the 1990s was quite an optimistic place. The country had a feeling of going forward. But that optimism is a thing of the past. A disappointment with post-communist Poland is more common, these days. It just hasn’t gone the way many hoped it would. There have been too many losers.
So Kwasniewski’s popularity is fragile, resting on a nostalgia for the ‘feel good factor’ and a time when the president of Poland was not Lech Kaczynski.
Maybe it’s as simple as that: People like Kwas because Kwas is not the Duck.