Tuesday, October 11, 2005

They also ran

Presidential election result, first round: Tusk 36.3%…Kaczynski 33.10%…Lepper 15.11%…Borowski 10.33%…Kalinowski 1.88%…Korwin-Mikke 1.45%……Turnout 49.74%…
A champion bridge playing monarchist who eats his tax returns, and a man who met his new Chinese wife on the internet, were just some of the also-rans who stood in last Sunday’s presidential election. (photo: Janusz Korwin-Mikke and running mate)

The fact that Lech Kaczynski, from the populist, conservative Law and Justice party, and Donald Tusk from the free market conservative, Civic Platform, have gone through to the second round on October 23 was always, what epistemologist Donald Rumsfeld would call, a ‘known, known’. They were both so far ahead in the polls that they were the only two real candidates with a hope of winning the contest.

The known-unknown was the turnout out, which at 50 percent, was a good ten percent higher than in the general election only two weeks ago.

But most of the other ten candidates who stood on Sunday knew that they had no hope of winning, and would be happy to get 1 percent of the vote.

What Rumsfeld would call the ‘unknown unknown’, is, of course, unknowable – but it probably has something to do with the question: why do these political also-rans bother in the first place?

Take for instance someone who is now becoming a veteran of presidential election contests, Janusz Korwin-Mikke, who used to stand on the “Real Politics’ platform, but now just stands on the Korwin-Mikke Platform platform.

If I said to you that Mr. Korwin-Mikke is the type of man who always wears a bow tie, then you will get an idea of the sort of person he is. He’s an intelligent, self-styled political maverick. He has some crazy ideas, which, once you think about some of them, at least, start to make a peculiar kind of sense.

He was a dedicated and brave anti-communist activist from the nineteen sixties onwards, managed to get himself arrested several times, and spent sometime in jail during the martial law period.

Towards the end of communism he set himself apart from the mainstream opposition with his Real Politics Union. He is for a low, almost non –existent tax economy, and onetime stood outside the finance ministry eating his tax-returns form. He is vehemently against the European Union (EU), the rules of which he sees as being less liberal than the old Soviet Union. ‘Brussels is run by a bunch of ‘Euro-Masons’, he says. He favours Poland leaving the EU and joining NAFTA, the North Atlantic Free Trade Association. That Poland is nowhere near the North Atlantic is not a problem for him.

Always the contrarian, he thinks that Poland should not interfere in the politics of Belarus, and President Lukashenko – someone usually thought of as a foreign relations pariah – should, indeed, be left alone.

The man is a mass of contradictions, in fact. Some of his views are hyper-modern, but others are from a different, forgotten age. For instance, he has some chauvinistic views about the role of women today, and is a member of the Polish Monarchy Club – which think that we should search for the rightful heir to the Polish throne.

He is also a champion bridge player.

His election slogan in the presidential elections this time – he has stood twice before – was the simple: I’m as fed up as you are! On Sunday, he polled 1.4%.

A political eccentric, then. But at least he does have political views. In fact, some say has too many of them.

Chinese crackers

This cannot be said for another of the candidates on Sunday, the oddball Stanislaw Tyminski.

Tyminski truly is the ‘unknown unknown’ of the Polish political scene. A Polish born Canadian businessman, he first emerged from obscurity in 1990, when he announced that he was going to stand in the nations’ first democratic ballot for president since the fall of communism the previous year.

But nobody had heard of him before, he didn’t seem to have any policies, and he was up against solidarity activists, and, most importantly, Lech Walesa.

In the first ballot, Walesa was miles ahead of everyone else, except that is, for Stanislaw Tyminksi, who amazed everyone when he forced a second ballot with the King of the Gdansk Shipyard. Walesa won the second round easily; but how could a candidate from overseas just turn up and get so many votes?

But this is what people like Tyminski are for. They are the anti-politics candidate. They have no past, so they cannot have made any mistakes. They have no policies, so it’s impossible to debate with them. And people vote for guys like Tyminski for no other reason than to stick a finger up at the political class in general.

But maybe because he was the politician that emerged out of the blue with no policies, the 57 year old - who didn’t even live in Poland - quickly disappeared again.

Only to re-emerge, that is, this year with a 37 year old Chinese woman on his arm, who he announced to be his new wife.

Apparently they met only a while ago on the internet. How they communicated was a mystery, as Wu Mulan - a labourer from Shenzhen, who has a 13-year-old daughter - didn’t speak any English. The first time they set eyes on each other was on their wedding day.

Rumours have been rife on the internet about the marriage, with talk of how this Chinese Cinderella is really an undercover spy trying to affect the results of the Polish presidential election.

Which is possible…but then again, why would the Chinese Secret Service waste time with a presidential candidate like Tyminski who, this time round, only polled 0.16 percent?

Still, the also-rans got what they were looking for – a bit of attention, and in Tyminski’s case, a pretty Chinese wife.


michael farris said...

An acquaintance of mine once happened to be on the same flight as Mr. Korwin-Mikke.
short version without all the gory, hilarious details: He was intent on making a loud public show of himself, finally leading the (non-Polish) passenger in the next seat to lean over and ask in a concerned voice.
"Is he ill?"

beatroot said...

That kind of gossip is priceless...cheers Mike. And it just goes to show...be suspicious of a man who always wears a bow tie.

Anonymous said...

It is easy to be a critic as it costs nothing, only some effort to blabber. But I admire the bold effort to lie and to slander, which indicates envy of the good men. So much hate and perfidious manipulation can only come from a creature that quietly desires to rule the world...