Monday, April 17, 2006

Andrzej Lepper prepares for government

The Law and Justice government's choice of coalition partners is giving Poland a dubious reputation with journalists and politicians internationally. And it might be worse than they think.

The UK Daily Telegraph reports that a coalition was finally agreed, Friday, between the minority government and its new special buddy.

‘After months of playing footsie, the ruling Law and Justice party today jumped into bed with the militantly anti-reform, ultra-nationalist, left-wing Self Defence party.

This afternoon, the two parties signed a coalition agreement that is expected to give a top cabinet post, probably the deputy prime ministership, to the Self Defence leader, Andrzej Lepper.

Mainstream Polish politicians despise Mr Lepper, a loud-mouthed, populist enemy of free trade, to the extent that his arrival may well trigger the resignation of the foreign minister, Stefan Meller.’

Other cabinet ministers rumoured to be lining up to jump ship are Finance Minister, Zyta Gilowska, Health Minister Zbigniew Religa and possibly Radek Sikorski, who is at Defense.

As this blog reported sometime ago, the Telegraph piece suggests that David Cameron, the new, 'green' and 'inclusive' leader of the British Conservative party, should think twice before making alliances with these people in the European parliament, as is his plan. And it’s making some in his party a little nervous:

‘A while back, a pretty unflinching [British conservative] Eurosceptic MEP [said he] would not want to sit with Law and Justice if they forged a formal alliance with Lepper and gave him a seat in the Polish cabinet.’

The article mentions Law and Justice’s cosy relationship with the ultra-catholic, anti-semitic Radio Maryja (see also Polish Taliban, below) and its rampant homophobia, but then quickly adds that, “Nobody is accusing Law and Justice, or Self-Defence, of anti-Semitism.” [my emphasis]

But somebody has accused them of just that in the past…

This is from a report by the aniti-racist Stephen Roth Institute in 2003. On Andzrej Lepper’s Samoobrona party it says:

‘…in several regions it has been infiltrated by known extreme right, and even neo-Nazi, activists. In Szczecin and Koszalin its branches have provided political shelter for extreme nationalist neo-pagan groups such as Niklot (see ASW 2001/2) and Swiaszczyca, which consists of neo-Nazi skinheads and black metal music fans. Niklot leaders such as Igor Gorewicz ran, unsuccessfully, in the local elections on a Samoobrona ticket. In Lublin, Konrad Rekas was elected as a Samoobrona representative to the regional council. Rekas is a notorious extreme nationalist activist, a former member of Prawica Narodowa (National Right – PN).

Samoobrona’s links with the extreme right are further illustrated by the decision of its leader, Andrzej Lepper, to appoint antisemitic publisher Leszek Bubel to run the party weekly newspaper, also called Samoobrona. Bubel is notorious for having published extremely racist material such as The Protocols of the Elders of Zion... He was also one of the instigators of provocative actions during the controversies over the Auschwitz crosses and the Jedwabne pogrom (see ASW 2000/1 and 2001/2). Cooperation between Lepper and Bubel ceased in April 2003, apparently for financial reasons.'

On the ruling Law and Justice party the report says:

‘Law and Justice – (PiS) is the main conservative party in Poland [...]. It absorbed a number of nationalist activists, notably the well known MPs Michal Kaminski (notorious for his public support of the traditional antisemitic slogan “Poland for the Polish”)and Marcin Libicki (a veteran member of the extremist organization PN, known for his vigorous opposition to the restitution of property to former Jewish owners).’

Michal Kaminski is now PiS representaive at the Euro parliament, one of David Cameron's future chums.

The government is also trying to woo members of the anti-semitic League of Polish Families away from their party and into their little cabal.

David Cameron and British Conservative MEPs be warned – your new cuddly flirt with the British electorate could be tarnished by making friends with weirdo politicians from Poland.


roman said...

Wow, you were not kidding when you stated (a few posts back) that this guy has an orange complexion. Lepper does stand out in a crowd. Who needs political "name recognition" when you have instant "face recognition"? Now all they need to do is replace the names with headshots (in color of course)on the ballots and the next election will be a shoe-in for Samoobrona.

Frank Partisan said...

Atleast the Polish government is not Islamist yet.

Anonymous said...

The Socialist Group in the European Parliament has two MEPs from Samoobrona.

sonia said...

Actually, those leftists in the West who love and admire Chavez (or Aristide) should have no problem with Lepper and Samoobrona. Anti-capitalist, anti-free trade, anti-rich, anti-Israeli (and unlike Ligue of the Polish Families, not particularly fanatically Catholic), Lepper is closer to the mainstream of the Western Loony Left than any other Polish politician...

michael farris said...

Really? The American politician he reminds me most of is Ross Perot.

beatroot said...

You have to put Lepper in the Polish political context.

He does have leftwing views - as Sonia has listed, though you could add 'anti-globalist' to that.

The anti-semitism must be included here, somewhere, but it doesn't fit in to the lefty bit, does it?.

If samoobrona are in the socialist camp in the Europarliament then they must stick out like a sore thumb.

Left politics is not trendy in Poland with the middle class as it still is, kind of, in the west. When the Fremch farmer drove a tractor into a Macdonald's a few years ago the hip youth and 'radicals' saw him as a hero. If Lepper did that here he would be seen as a redneck troublemaker.

And that's how is he is seen here by middle class youth.

Trying to compare Lepper to western political figures is, as always in Poland, a mistake.

Things are different in Poland.

Anonymous said...

Two of the six MEPs elected from Samoobrona are in the Socialist Group. They joined more than a year ago. The other four are still non-attached. The pity of the thing is that they do not sit out like a sore thumb at all. When they joined, the Socialist group issued a statement saying that two Polish business leaders had joined the group. Political beliefs are very flexible in the European Parliament.

beatroot said...

That's interesting Anon. A euro-split in Samo obrona! I wonder why?

Something called the Fourth International (not, we may sumise, a conservatice magazine) said of Samoobrona's performance in the Euro elections 2004:

Another surprise was the low score obtained by Self-Defence (Samoobrona), a populist formation zigzagging between left and right, which only obtained 10.7% of the vote. While advancing a social rhetoric, Samoobrona sold places on its lists to local entrepreneurs (for example in Silesia the owner of an cheap air flights company was head of the party’s list).

Anonymous said...

That could finally explain the development. I never understood it myself apart from surmising that it was just two more members for the Socialist Group i.e. more money for them and some sort of Brussels credibility for Samoobrona although it is debatable whether they would care about that. Insignificant as the movement between political groups in the European Parliament may be in the outside world, it might be relatively interesting to watch what happens next with the four Samoobrona MEPs who are currently non-attached. The "we take any trash" Independence and Democracy Group has parted company with the LPR. It may have Samoobrona in its sights as replacement delegation. Delightful.

beatroot said...

One of the 'socialist' Samos is Bogdan Golik, the guy who was alleged to have raped the prostitute.

Anonymous said...

With or without the Golik allegation, haven't the Conservatives missed a point on this one? Throughout their travails over who to invite into their new alliance in the EU, they have been challenged about dodgy Polish allies yet British Labour Party MEPs are happy to sit in the same group as MEPs from a Polish party whose leader once described Hitler as alright.

beatroot said...

Was it Hilter, or Hitler's economic policies that Lepper was refring to? (just as a matter of accuracy)

Anonymous said...

Beatroot, As a matter of accuracy, you are right. It was economic policies to which Lepper referred.

The Samoobrona MEPs who are not in the Socialist group, by the way, are now the biggest bloc in one of the taxpayer-funded European Political Parties.