President Nicolas Sarkozy has been shocking the more conservative French voters with public revelations about his love life. Let’s hope Polish politicians don’t go the same way.
Only a few months into his presidency and Sarkozy seems determined to turn his time at the Elysee Palace into a lurid French soap opera. First we learn that he has a new sexy Italian pop star lover – news he appeared happy to talk about at the very formal press conference in Paris last week.
Now his ex-wife – the marriage still warm and twitching since the divorce only last October – is set to ‘reveal all’ about what a wicked, wicked, man he really is. In a kiss, divorce and tell biography, entitled Cécilia, er… Cécilia tell us, breathlessly:
"Nicolas est un sauteur , […] Nicolas is miserly... a man who loves no-one, not even his children...He has a ridiculous side. He is not worthy. He doesn't behave like the president of the republic. He has a real behaviour problem."
Many French agree. Sarko’s poll ratings are taking a dive. Public revelations such as this are not the stuff of French politics. The private life of politicians was always a no-go area for the media. Having lovers is a very French thing to do, but blubbing about them to the press is a very un-French thing to do.
And so it is in Poland
Polish politicians don’t ‘do’ this kind of thing and neither, generally, does the media.
When the then President Lech Walesa told us after a stay at Buckingham Palace that the ‘bed was so big I lost my wife in it..’ many thought that this was a ‘little too much information’ from Our Lech: talking about these little details was not, and is not, respectable behaviour from a President of Poland; and the thought of Lech in bed with anyone disturbed the more sensitive Pole, and several small animals.
Of course, there are rumours of Polish politicians’ pecadilos – always have been. But the press, by and large, ignores them.
There have been the occasional attempt to get into the political bedroom by hacks. In the early 1990s, The Memoirs of Anastazja P. claimed that she had slept with several Polish politicians, in various locations, and gave them marks out of ten for ‘performance’ etc.
Excuse me while I get a bucket...
...that’s better. Since the book was published - which sold 200,000 copies in the first days of its release in 1992, there has been talk about how ‘P’ was actually working for the still communist dominated secret services – her expose was merely a way to discredit post-Solidarity members who were in positions of power in the newly capitalist Poland.
Recently there has been much tittle-tattle about whether former PM Jaroslaw Kaczynski was secretly gay – more information that came from the same early 1990s secret service files.
Kaczynski - maybe in a PR management exercise - was then caught on camera kissing his ‘good friend’ from Solidarity days, Jolanta Szczypinska. Acres of newsprint and internet space followed, speculating on whether the two would get married. This talk abruptly stopped, after Jarek lost power in the elections last October.
But generally, Polish journalists keep the gossip about who is shagging who a secret (unless, understandably, their name is Andrzej Lepper).
Not only has Lepper and other party bigwigs been accused of sexual harassment, but MPs Sandra Lewandowska and Janusz Maksymiuk (nice couple!) were caught, paparazzi style, by the tabloids, on a beach in Egypt together, with Janusz gently applying sun cream to Sandra’s quivering flesh. Allegedly. But Samoobrona are an exception to the rule - as they are in so many other ways.
So let’s hope President of Poland Lech Kaczynski, or the new PM, Donald Tusk, don’t start holding forth in press conferences about their prowess as lovers. If they do then the tabloid culture, which is rapidly developing in Poland, will haunt them like the French paps will haunt President Sarkozy. And we don’t need politics to get any more personal than it already has become, merci beaucoup. If it does, then national politics will sink, ever deeper, dans le merde.
Update: It just so happens, that today gossip has broken out on the internet that President Lech Kaczynski has 'an alcohol problem'. This comes from a Civic Platform lawmaker's blog - so, well...it must be true.