Wednesday, March 22, 2006

How not to make friends and influence people

It’s easy: become a member of the Law and Justice (PiS) government! In power for six months, and making a new enemy everyday. And the opinion polls are starting to show the disenchantment.

In just half a year the conservative, Catholic, economically leftish, Law and Justice government has made people hate them in:

The Central Bank. This goes back a long way and involves an apparent vendetta against the head of the National Bank of Poland, Leszek Balcerowicz. He was the architect of the economic ‘shock therapy’ of the early nineties, which liberalized the economy but also hurt many, creating unemployment and a growing difference between rich and poor. Kaczynski supporters and those from other populist parties, right and left, have been out to get Balcerowicz for ages and they are determined to get him before the end of his term as head banker this year.

The Supreme Court – full of commies, apparently.

The mainstream media. Law and Justice see a conspiracy between ex-communists and economic liberalizers (?) from the opposition Civic Platform, deep within the news media. They think that the media is out to get them. Law and Justice seem only to trust the Catholic fundamentalist media based around the slightly wacko Father Tadeusz Rydzyk, who owns Radio Maryja and TV Trwam and the daily newspaper Nasz Dziennik.

At a key signing of the Stability Pact between the minority government and two smaller parties, PiS only invited Trwam along for live coverage. All mainstream media boycotted the press conference afterwards. And that’s unprecedented here.

Law and Justice are also setting up a Special Parliamentary Committee to look into the work of the media in the 16 years since the end of communism. They are looking for bias against…well, people like them. It sounds a little bit like the Spanish Inquisition, to me.

Of course, anyone half sympathetic to PiS in the media before the election last September (and there were a few) is not feeling so generous to them now. The media are predominantly Civic Platform voters – if they vote at all. Generally, though, journalists are professionals before they are voters. So they do try and be fair.

But when you are feeling got at, that objectivity becomes harder to stick to. It's only natural.

PiS have created a self-fulfilling prophecy: the media wasn’t out to get them before the election – but large sections of it are now.

The EU – which is anxious at the rise of protectionism within the Union. They are particularly concerned about PiS’s attempt to block the Italian bank Unicredito’s aim to merge two Polish banks it has interests in. This was the issue with which PiS have used to bash Leszek Balcerowicz. The EU is also not too keen on some of the human rights aspects of the PiS government.

Gay, lesbian, bisexual and the trans-gendered community. PiS exhibit chronic symptoms of homophobia – an irrational fear which, as President Lech Kaczynski (Jaro’s twin) expressed recently on a trip to Germany, believes that if homosexuality is encouraged then all Poles will turn, over night, into Sodom and Gomorrah. President Kaczynski banned two gay rights marches when he was major of Warsaw before becoming president.

Germans – on that trip to Germany, Kaczynski generated acres of newsprint in the German press that was not very flattering. They couldn’t understand why he kept talking about ‘the war’ (he wants Germany to cough up some Euro compensation for Nazi crimes). Many German Christian-democrats (like Chancellor Merkel) would quite like to see Poland give them back Silesia.

Tesco’s supermarket – since they came to power PiS\have not appeared to have been over-welcoming to foreign investment – particularly from giant supermarket retailers, who they think are the devil’s spawn (0ne of a few things they share with lefty-liberals in western Europe and the US, interestingly – they don’t like GM crops either, as they are not made by the Almighty). They also don’t like…
Italian bankers (see EU above)

The list goes on. The latest opinion poll released this evening showed PiS falling behind Civic Platform by four percent (although, PiS think that opinion pollsters are part of the same nest of communists and liberals that the media are from – opinion pollsters probably hate them too).

The government is going to put a bill through parliament this week to force an early election before Pope Benedict comes to Poland in the last week of May. A big occasion for the faithful here – (and PiS supporters). Civic Platform – which must vote for it otherwise the bill will fail to become law – has said that it will not support early elections. They favour a ballot in autumn. Both parties are trying to call each others bluff and making the other look ‘chicken’. Which is very boring!

An autumn election? Who knows how many more enemies PiS will have created by then.


Frank Partisan said...

The politics in Poland seem like theater of the absurd.

Not funny if you live there.

Polcham said...

The point about PIS being left economically might be stressed a bit more. They are nothing but leftists in Catholic robes. They are a party of the Right only in the sense that they are rigidly Roman Catholic and think that they are always right and everyone else is always wrong.

I have referenced your article over at the Master Page in the Outlook section and in the European News Review Section.

beatroot said...

Renegade - you are right aboutn the theatre of the absurd...and good phrase (I love the theatre of the absurd...particularly Calvino!

And cheers polcham. I know the Outlook commentaries and they are good. I think I included a link in the post to masterpage - which has improved greatly recently.

beatroot said...

People might like to check out the writer of that article, Bronislaw Wildstein of the Wildstein's List controversy last year...It goves you some perspective on the tyoe of people who think like that and who see the problems of Poland in the past and not the very difficult present.

Cheers dbn (

beatroot said...

Sorry...I don;t know why I put the 'r' on there. Have I done it before? Kurcze....

michael farris said...

"I don;t know why I put the 'r' on there."

I think I do, it's obviously a sign of latent pro-Russian symapthies, układ! układ! (the new cooties)


Hey! Watch the język before you get fined.

beatroot said...

I have always wanted to a member of a secret conspiritorial uklad!

dbn - I just noticed that I put the f-ing 'r' in the link!

Much apologies from hapless south Londoner. Have corrected it now.

Kurza dupa!!! Kacza gypa!!!!!!

roman said...

Want to know how to make political enemies? The Bush administration will be offering an advanced course of study soon.

beatroot said...

I can imagine Bush revising his notes before the lecture...his lips silently moving along to the words...

beatroot said...

So is there an uklad or not, Gummish?

beatroot said...

On the English thing - of course I will give you some advice, but I will do that via email, if you don't mund. If you email me then I can email back.

You say that there was no 'revolution' in Poland...and that some people are still in charge etc.

I know what you mean...sons and daughters of nomenklature have got some nice jobs and a few of the old commies got there hands on some of the new businesses when they were being privatised. They also had the right connections to set up their own busnesses.

But this 'continuity' could be one of Poland's strengths, not weakenesses. It has given the country some stability during the rapid changes that are happening here.

In the West, it is the same kind of thing. Middle class families have a far better chance of passing on their status to the next generation.

Maybe Poland is finally getting a modern social class system...unfortunatly.

michael farris said...

"There is a firm belief among many Polish off-stream commentators that communist government quite meticulously chose "the opposition" they were holding talks with (the Round Table), and the belief goes on that they used to choose from the ranks of their secret operatives. (tajny współpracownik)."

Even if this is true (I have zero idea if it is) then, I, for one, don't care.

The important thing was that the overall system changed and is far better now. With an entranced power structure and widespread distrust/antipathy on the part of the population there are (realistically speaking) two options:

a) a soft landing (change with a minimum of trauma), this includes a soft landing for the great majority of the powerful in the previous system

b) a hard landing, prone to violence and/or severe economic dislocation (several times worse than what occured in Poland in the early 90's)

The fundamental choice is which do you want a) a chance at a better future or b) revenge. You cannot have both. The Kaczynski bros obviously wanted and still want b) but I think most Polish people, all in all, wanted and still want a).

Which brings up the (really important) business of the układ conspiracy, namely that PiS did not really campaign on the issue of purifying the country of the ideologically impure (as defined by L&J), they campaigned on the idea of forming a coalition with PO and trying to improve the economy so that not so many Polish people have to emigrate to find a decent job. More often than not, the kind of bait and switch they've perpetrated is not rewarded with a second victory.

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