Sunday, 12 September 2010

Polish politics spirals out of control

Last year I was on holiday on the anniversary of 9/11 and I didn't write about all conspiracy theories concerning those terrorist attacks. Some time ago the topics of “inside job” fascinated me, later on I gave all those dwellings up. Every time a big tragedy happens conspiracy theories proliferate. Probably a human mind tries to cope with what is beyond its understanding by coming up with most ridiculous explanations. The world is slowly forgetting about those tragic events, this year the run-up to the anniversary was marked by a plan of American pastor Terry Jones to burn Koran to demonstrate his objection to plans to build a mosque in the vicinity of ground zero in NYC. I wonder if the pastor realised his deed would be like a red rag to a bull – it could only provoke subsequent acts of violence from fundamentalist Muslims. Politicians’ reactions were very swift – world leaders firmly condemned and dissociated themselves from the disruptive plans and the pastor eventually called off the heinous event. I wonder what he wanted to achieve – what was the point in sparking off another conflict? After all don’t Catholics and Muslims believe in the same God but in a different way? Should relations between religions be based on mutual respect? Instead of dialogue we I saw headlines “World at the mercy of an idiot”. Does it prove power of one man?

In Poland despite cold weather it is getting only hotter. On Tuesday “Gazeta Polska” published an interview with Jarosław Kaczyński in which he envisages Lech Wałęsa will soon be discredited and after his name is dragged through the mud Lech Kaczyński will become a symbol of Solidarity. The late president indeed was a member and advisor of Solidarity, however his merits cannot be compared to those who really worked out a compromise with communist authorities and fought out some freedoms achievable in the limitations of political system based on dependence on Soviet Union. His brother’s designs look like nothing else but an attempt to make up for lack of big achievements in PRL and to get his own back on those who were building independent Poland after 1989 and were successful in politics. It seems to be inconvenient to him that twin brothers did little to go down in history and it justifies the steps taken to rewrite the history. “It’s us, not them, who should be heroes, who should be remembered by generations, who dismantled the communism, if the facts are evidence against us, the worse for the facts”, is what Jarosław might think. Jarosław says it is mean to say his brother’s presidency was not very outstanding (as Tadeusz Mazowiecki had said)…

Can finally anyone tell what Lech Kaczyński had done to be deemed to be an outstanding president? From 2006 he proved to be mediocre president steered by his twin brother, who failed to represent Poland abroad with dignity, was servile to his brother’s government and squabbled with Donald Tusk’s government, was unfamiliar with the rules of diplomacy, deteriorated Poland’s relations with neighbouring countries, favoured some social and professional groups, called national mourning every few months, appointed his henchmen rather than professionals for official positions in state administration and took umbrage at any occasion. Now any attempt to criticise the conduct of late president and refusal to glorify him and his heritage (was it said what his heritage actually is?) is treated as declaring war to the most outstanding politician after 1989.

Jarosław Kaczyński could not fail to suggest Poland is a Soviet-German colony what prompted a press conference held by politicians of three parties whose members sit in the parliament. All voiced their outrage at Kaczyński’s interview and expressed their disapproval of insulting Poland and Poles. Last week saw also two other unprecedented moves – Marek Migalski was ousted from PiS’ delegation to European Parliament, Elżbieta Jakubiak was suspended from her membership in the party for lack of allegiance. A journalist of Gazeta Wyborcza (imp)lies the most likely reason for that step was an alleged interview in which Mrs Jakubiak had said; “Jarosław must feel co-responsible for the death of his brother, if it had not been for his ambitions, Lech Kaczyński would have stayed on as university professor”… (BTW – where can this interview be found, article in Wyborcza lacks precise reference?!) Is it a key to the door?

The so-called System accused Kaczyński of insanity. What he does may seem to appear as a struggle of a blind man, but you should remember Kaczyński is a man of steel and never loses touch. In totalitarian systems dissidents were deliberately dubbed lunatics to detract from their “twaddle”. To my young eye Jarosław Kaczyński is in a top form, sane as never, knows very well what he is doing, has a plan to follow out and is determined to do it. In short his goal quite likely is to dishonour heroes of Solidarity, the current government and president. Consequently, he might be intent on building his brother’s legend as the only one who had moral rights to be a heir of Solidarity’s attainments. Calling current state officials Soviet or German servants sounds then as nothing else but invoking fear and an attempt to find any reason to tell Poles they don’t have legitimacy for running this country.

Kaczyński no longer cares about the support. He has his avid believers who hang on every word he says and would probably execute any order he would give, including bringing down the government by force. The rest of Poles turn their backs on the sane leader or don’t give a damn. The recent polls show PO enjoys support of roughly 52% of Poles, PiS of 25%, SLD of 20%. Many Poles have had enough of what has been going on. The rising backing for PO cannot be justified by their good rule, only by fear of PiS back in power. Good performance of SLD suggests their new anti-clerical strategy bears fruits. Is the diagnosis Poles are sick of privileged position of Catholic church in public life spot-on? There is still an empty space in Polish politics, Janusz Palikot claims, and organises a congress of his new movement which may become a new, truly liberal (in social and economic terms) party to fill it in. Is there a demand for such a party in Poland. Palikot’s views quite well overlap mine, but does a party or movement run by such a controversial lunatic stand a chance to exceed the 5% parliament entry threshold?

On Friday Gazeta Wyborcza published a letter of some of Smolensk crash fatalities’ families to the First Lady, who want to travel to Smolensk six months after the crash and take the cross from outside the presidential palace with themselves. It seemed it could be an excellent idea to commemorate the deceased passengers of TU-154 and to solve the problem of the cross. Predictably, self-styled defenders of the cross, supported by politicians of PiS denied them the right to move away the cross. How long will the Polish state put up with people who appropriated the symbol of tragedy which affected mostly families who had lost their relatives in that accident, and then granted themselves moral right to decide where the cross should stand?

Will Kaczynski’s crusade ever end? On Friday leader of PiS adjudicated current prime minister, president and a few prominent politicians of the ruling party bear a political and moral responsibility for the tragedy. Still I see no causation between PO’s alleged policy of bringing discredit on late president and the plane crash. The same could have happened to Mr Tusk if his visit had been scheduled three days later. Jarosław Kaczynski used imperative sentences – those politicians mentioned above have to disappear from Polish politics forever. In a democracy only voters can force them to step down, moral judgements passed by Jarosław Kaczynski either stem out of his lust for revenge for brother’s death or are a part of a more complex plan to sling mud at Polish government, aimed at proving Mr Tusk and Mr Komorowski must not exercise power. I also fear how this plan (provided it exists) may end up. Given the level of rancour in the Polish society, the readiness of ardent believers of Mr Kaczynski to rise up, his determination to glorify his brother and insult his political opponents, it is not inconceivable some people may take law into their hands… I read yesterday on Internet forums on WP.PL all recent Kaczynski’s actions may serve as a justification for a coup d’etat. If Poland is ruled by a Soviet president and a Soviet prime minister, who should be eliminated from the Polish nation (as the defenders of the cross allegedly chanted on Friday) because they contributed to the death of previous president and 95 other people, it is in the best interest of Poland to topple the government and depose the president. Hatred is in the air and unfortunately scenarios of riots, bloodshed or some sort of civil war, though rather unfounded, cannot be totally ruled out.

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