Sunday, 9 May 2010

The candidates once again

This time I won’t write about financial tribulations of EU, social unrest in Greece or spectacular turmoil on financial markets. Politics is what attracts much more attention so if I publish a new list of potential presidents of Poland at least the readers will be more likely to have their say.

The tragic Smolensk plane crash has brought about a serious reshuffle on the list of politicians running for presidency. Acting president and parliament speaker Bronisław Komorowski has called election for 20 June, so the short campaign, run in shadow of the Smolensk disaster, will last less than six weeks from now (plus possible fortnight before the run-off). In March I compiled a similar list of candidates, however, the recent events have prompted an update as two important candidates, incumbent president Lech Kaczynski and SLD candidate Jerzy Szmajdzinski both died on 10 April.

The order might matter so to avoid bias I decided to review contenders in alphabetical order.

1. Marek Jurek – extreme right-wing politician, until 2007 a member of Law and Justice party, which he left to voice his protest against enacting too liberal abortion law. Famous for his strong conservative social views and infamous for paying homage to general Pinochet.

2. Jarosław Kaczyński – twin brother of late president Lech Kaczynski and chairman of Law and Justice. Currently he stands a serious chance to vie with Mr Komorowski in a run-off on 4 July. The decision to run for presidency after the death of his brother is said to be natural. At the moment it hard to determine whether his partisans will be resorting to hits below the belt in this campaign. It is equally difficult to say if he is bearing up after the bereavement. Mr Kaczynski is likely to capitalise on the posthumous glorification of his brother’s presidency and in his campaign he will surely emphasise the determination to continue the aborted mission of his brother and restore the ideas of IV RP. It has to be said liberal voters are aghast at the mere thought of Mr Kaczynski as a head of Polish state.

3. Bronisław Komorowski – a Civic Platform’s candidate for the office of president, acting president and speaker of parliament. After the Smolensk disaster he has to carry a heavy burden of performing all those functions. The public opinion centres on him and it’s very easy for his political opponents to pull him up for virtually anything. From not crying at the funerals, through clumsy and too pathetic addresses and speeches, up to taking independent decisions such as signing new IPN bill. Currently he’s an odds-on favourite, but nobody can take his win for granted. Many voters are likely to put a cross against him just to prevent the worst, in their view, scenario.

4. Janusz Korwin-Mikke – an eccentric libertarian politician. This year’s campaign is his fifth run for presidency. He enjoys a considerable support of some young, male, surely not pragmatic voters. Mr Korwin-Mikke is usually described as quaint and clever oddball and stalwart critic of any manifestations of socialism. I am personally sceptical of his high IQ, whenever I read or hear his thoughts it appears to me his view of the world is over-simplified. Unfortunately, the reality is not that straightforward and the world and economics are much more complex.

5. Andrzej Lepper – a rural chieftain who built his political career on pouncing at the inhuman capitalism, blocking the roads and wangled his way into the senior positions in government. Sentenced to two years and three months of imprisonment for sexual harassment, cannot run for parliament, but for presidency, why not. This sad inconsistency proves how lame Polish law sometimes is. Yesterday I heard he began his campaign on bazaar in Łódź. I’m slightly missing him and his outrageous party. Polish politics without white-and-red ties, sandals worn together with a suit, kurwiki, wheedled out fuel allowance and many other stuff lost some of its flavour.

6. Kornel Morawiecki – few people heard about that guy. Mr Morawiecki was a member of anti-communist opposition in PRL, in independent Poland he keeps on trying to reshape the country. Hitherto – to no avail. Views – rather nationalistic.

7. Grzegorz Napieralski – SLD’s candidate after the tragic death of Mr Szmajdzinski, the youngest runner (aged 36). Nominated as a contender on the spur of the moment might look off-putting for many centre-left voters as he represents the far-left fringe of SLD. He is known for his radical leftist economic and social views. On political scene he would lean towards co-operation with Law and Justice rather than Civic Platform, for many a careerist and a mate who tries to capitalise on leftist sentiments.

8. Andrzej Olechowski – formally independent candidate, backed by niche Polish Democratic Party. Mr Olechowski wants to change a public discourse in Poland and focus on substantive discussion and moving Poland forward. If I don’t settle on tactical voting, I’ll support him. I have five reasons:
1) He is the independent candidate.
2) His political, social and economic views overlap mine best = he looks like a truly liberal candidate.
3) He is an economist (PhD in foreign trade) so he would understand much better than Mr Komorowski the mechanics of Polish economy.
4) His vision of presidency squares with mine – reconciliation, support and respect are the main foundations.
5) His command of foreign languages is the best among the runners.
He seems to stand out in terms of manners, he has a vision and sets it above career.
This one was immensely subjective, indeed… To make up for the positive bias I have to add before 1989 Mr Olechowski collaborated with PRL secret services, but he never tried to conceal those bleak episode from his life.

9. Waldemar Pawlak – represents Polish peasants’ party and might get more votes than expected. Currently he holds the office of deputy prime minister and economy minister. Recently he makes the headlines as the author of revolutionary draft of pension system reform. I fully advocate his ideas (small pension benefit provided by the state, equal for everyone, to have a higher pension save on your own), but maybe it would be better if he stayed on where he is.

10. Bogusław Ziętek – unfortunately the guy doesn’t have an entry in English wikipedia. Mr Ziętek shows there’s some room to the left of Mr Napieralski. He is said to be a powerful a trade union leader, an ideal head of state of suppressed working class, but is the presidency about burning tyres and yelling in attempt to get a pay rise?

To be continued…?

1 comment:

pawel ex-polandian said...

The tragedy is that there is no one to vote for. Honestly there is no choice.

The thing is I really like, what you describe as, "radical social views" presented by Napieralski. Although mine are much more radical surely;)

The thing is, I really don't like him. I just don't. And I don't believe him. Even though he is consistent in his views, and I remember participating in a meeting in the Sejm, which he moderated, with foreign journalists and politicians. It was before Warsaw Gay Pride march, about it being banned and Polish anti-gay policies.

So even though he is consistent, and does engage, I just don't gig him. He should be a backbencher. Joanna Senyszyn should be the candidate, oh I'd vote for her!

Olechowski was a good choice 10 or 5 years ago. Now, he clearly cannot find himself in the world of professional PR, television, and he can't manage to put his message across. Back then things were simpler.
And what is his message anyway? When I watched his debate with Jurek, he did say some silly things. Like he asked Jurek something like this: "Would you sell Intercity to Deutche Bahn"?

And I was like - why speak for one company? Plus a foreign one. Plus what can president do about transport infractructure policies?