As the two candidates entered the grounds of Poland’s public television, Sunday, ready for the first head-to-head presidential TV face off, a new anthropological, ethnographic sub-culture could be spotted waiting for them just outside the entrance to the TVP building.
They wore flowers in their hair, they banged their tambourines, resplendent in orange kaftans, like Polish Maharishi chanting happy slogans.
They resembled hippies but they were not. For these were supporters of Jaroslaw Kaczynski, candidate of the Law and Justice party, or PiS in the Polish acronym. They were not your usual, common and garden, peace loving hippy, high on herb and an overdose of patchouli oil.
No. These were the HiPiS. And they want to you to join them.
There were some high profile names in amongst the gaggle of hiPiS - Marek Migalski, Elżbieta Jakubiak, Paweł Poncyliusz - part of the PiS new-wave - singing John Lennon’s Give PiS a Chance. Yeah - they really were singing that.
At one point, as they descended, slowly, on the public television building, I thought they were going to repeat a stunt by one of their forbearers, 1960s Timothy Leary, who gathered a few thousand hippies - whose brains had been deep fried in too much acid - and surrounded the Whitehouse in the sincere belief that they could levitate it into the sky.
I imagined Jaroslaw Kaczynski, guru-like, wearing swirling white robes, emerge from his limo and commanding TVP to rise up into the sky, like a balloon.
LSD King Timothy Leary told us to “Turn on, tune in and drop out. ” But as Law and Justice control TVP at the moment, maybe Kaczynski would come riding into the television studios on a magic carpet, advising all who would listen to “Turn on, tune in, to TVP”.
The hiPiS are a result of Law and Justice’s lengthy internal debate on how to change their image, attract a few more younger people to vote for them. It’s also part of Jarsolaw Kaczynski’s personality make-over. It was planned that Kaczynski was going to get a new softer image some months ago - make him more cuddly, less aggressive, less conflict-inclined. And then Smolensk happened, and maybe - maybe - he actually started to believe the PR. Maybe.
So in the last few weeks Jaroslaw has turned into the Polish Ghandi. Where once he was the commie-baiting attack dog, straining at the leash for conflict, now he wants to end the fighting, he says, to unite Poland in a hiPiS paradise.