Sunday, 29 November 2009

The presidents of Poland after 1989

I hope you will find this biased post both informative and funny.

I found the picture above in Muzeum Czwartej RP on Spieprzaj Dziadu – a Polish page modelled on wikipedia, which is a humorous encyclopedia of the gloomy times when Twin brothers were in power. The site set up during this murky period has been kept up until know, as the temporary occupational government is ruling the country. I surmise the image must have been put up there by the double (Russian and German) agent, whose granddad was in the Communist Party of Poland before WW2, whose parents formed a post-war lumpen-intelligentsia and who currently reads Gazeta Wyborcza and worships Adam Michnik, or maybe another representative of dark forces of evil.

You would be right to say the sense of humour consisting in poking fun at someone’s height is rather lowbrow, but tell me, why is such argument raised most often by the ones who also claim that Third Republic of Poland is just a PRL in disguise – last I heard was on Thursday, when I had a doubtful pleasure of attending the lecture by professor Adam Glapiński, currently economic advisor of Polish head of state (yes, the same one, who pokes out to the right), who stood in for my regular lecturer. I left the lecture after forty minutes…

Wojciech Jaruzelski formally can be included here, however I would not place him before Lech Wałęsa, as he had not been elected by citizens, but by the Houses of Polish parliament under the power-sharing deal in 1989. His term in office lasted around seventeen months and he was replaced by Lech Wałęsa in December 1990.

The first nation-elected president of independent Poland hails from poor family and completed only a vocational school. He gained international publicity after he established himself as a leader of strike in Gdańsk Shipyard in 1980 and then as a leader of Solidarity Trade Union. His contribution to the fall of communism is undeniable, but his presidency was a string of slip-ups and blunders. Sorry to say that, but in spite of his charisma he wasn’t an eligible person to hold an office of president of Poland. His style of exercising power was featured with unpredictable moves and litigiousness. He was defeated in the run-off of presidential ballot in 1995 by a tiny per cent of votes. Before his defeat, he offered to shake his successor’s leg, afterwards the result of the ballot was called into question.

As it turned out, Aleksander Kwaśniewski took office as president of Poland for two terms (ten years). Unlike his predecessor, he took up studies on University of Gdańsk, but he did not graduate from it, because he had not get all credits and consequently could not pass a master’s exam. He later explained himself he had been to busy with other stuff like activity in PZPR – like all people who joined the party in seventies and eighties, he did not believe in the system, but was just an opportunist. The fact the he didn’t manage to complete his studies is not reprehensible, unlike what he did later – he lied about his education, claiming he had graduated. In 1999 he became infamous for his overindulgent behaviour on the cemetery in Kharkov, where Polish officers who had died during WW2 are buried – to put it bluntly he paid homage to them after getting canned. On the other hand, his presidency was not a throwback to communist, he saw through the reforms aimed at moving Poland along and did not block the reforms pushed ahead by Jerzy Buzek’s government (unlike current president, who vetoes almost every legislation proposed by Donald Tusk's government). He was a zealous advocate of integration within European Union and one of reputable figures in international politics. He was the only president of Poland to speak foreign languages – he speaks fluently Russian and French, when tipsy, his English is good enough to deliver a series of lectures in US universities without getting his tongue twisted. At the end of his term he threw support for Orange Revolution in Ukraine, reconciled with Mr Wałęsa after Pope’s death and pardoned some of his henchmen embroiled in numerous scandals which marked the years of Democratic Left Alliance rule . In 2007 the became the leader of electoral campaign of Lefts and Democrats, in the meantime getting pissed two times, what must have impinged on the results of elections. Later on he withdrew from active politics.

Lech Kaczyński took over as president of Poland in 2005. He is said to be the most partial president of my country and in this respect outran both his predecessors, not without reason he is called “a president of his brother”, just operated through remote control. His term witnessed an unparalleled event in the world history – he and his twin brother held the positions of respectively president and prime minister at the same time. His presidency had been running smoothly as long as his brothel was a prime minister. But after Jarosław Kaczyński and his pals from the cabinet screwed everything up, Lech decided to knock back four bottles of wine with Donald Tusk and called early elections. The main occupation of the president in the next two years was bickering with the ruling Civic Platform. Lech Kaczyński was repeatedly accused of struggling drinking problem. I first heard it in 2006 from a man whose friend is in president’s entourage, then the rumours were exposed by eccentric politician of Civic Platform – Janusz Palikot, the same one who staged an event during which president’s doctoral thesis was ridiculed. The current head of state is an associated professor of Stefan Wyszyński University in Warsaw, but despite his academic degrees his command of foreign languages is commonly thought to be poor. Only in line with the accounts of his sidekicks, president is “proficient in English” and even corrects interpreters. The only substantiated case of such situation was when he corrected incompetent interpreter, who translated “holenderski” as “dutch” (a nie Nederland?). After all, as the first lady said, last year they celebrated thirty years of learning English together, the only result of three decades of efforts are uncontrollable bouts of giggling whenever Donald Tusk is speaking English.

To conclude, will the next president be the one we would be proud of?


Island1 said...

The way that the rhetoric of criticizing politicians differs from country to country always fascinates me. If you're a Polish politician the top three measures of 'fitness' are always sobriety, education, and some vague feeling of sophistication. In other words, if you want to be rude about a Polish politician, the most effective way is to call him an uneducated drunk. In the UK, for example, a good way of hurt a politician would be to call him a teetotal, over-educated snob (i.e. too sophisticated). In the US you would just call him an atheist. Fascinating stuff.

Michael Dembinski said...

"as long as his brothel was a prime minister"

Freudian slip?

student SGH said...

@Island1 - uneducated drunk - an intoxicating blend of all Polish presidents?

@MD - there is no other explanation, even the foul's day couldn't serve as an excuse...

Norman said...

"(...) did not block the reforms pushed ahead by Jerzy Buzek’s government (unlike current president)"
I'm wondering, why current president isn't blocking the reforms pushed ahead by Jerzy Buzek's government? ;]

student SGH said...

Norman, thx, I've already corrected this clumsy, or rather totally illogical sentence.

It sometimes turns out that one proofreading before clicking "publish post" button is not enough :/