Thu Sep 22nd, 2005 at 05:36:19 AM EST
An informative piece from the diaires ~ whataboutbob
The winner of the October presidential elections having just been decided, I thought I'd post a diary about them and the Sept. 25 parliamentary vote. But before I do so a brief summary of the Polish political scene.
Parties, from left to right: will get into parliament
Samoobrona (Self-defense) - a populist, authoritarian, mainly peasant party run by Andrzej Lepper. Lepper and his organization rose to prominence through numerous illegal and sometimes violent protests in the nineties. He has consistently made it clear that he would like to be Poland's Lukashenko. Their economic policies are an incoherent left wing mess and they blame all of Poland's economic problems on the capitalist elites, the Germans, the EU, and the Jews - in that order. Their base is among the losers of Poland's transformation into a capitalist state in the desperately poor rural areas and dying small towns. Samoobrona should poll around ten percent.
SLD (Alliance of the Democratic Left) - the post-communists. Their rhetoric ranges from populist socialism to hardline liberalism. Their practice is a mix of orthodox liberalism and kleptocracy. The ranks of their activists are almost entirely made up of former apparatchiks. As they were headed for a landslide victory in the last elections most people figured that while corrupt, they couldn't be that much worse than the right wing incumbents and that at least they'd be reasonably competent. Conventional wisdom was wrong on both counts. That's why they're headed for a catastrophic defeat.
PO (Civic Platform) Center right. To be more exact they are ultra liberal on economic policy, center left on the issue of extreme nationalism and the role of the Church ,center right on what we in the US call `social' issues like abortion or homosexuality. The PO is also moderately Europhilic. They are made up primarily of the hardline liberals from the old dissident party, Unia Wyborcza (Electoral Union), though minus the most prominent of the UW liberals, Leszek Balcerowicz who was the architect of Poland's shock therapy. They also got a few of the liberals from the main governing party of the old government the AWS (Electoral Action-Solidarity) which like its coalition partner the UW failed to get any seats in the current parliament. The PO's two top leaders are Donald Tusk, Poland's next president, and Jan Maria Rokita who will probably become the next prime minister. Some parts of the party, notably former Warsaw mayor Pawel Piskorski, are very corrupt.
PiS (Law and Justice) - hard right. Well to the right of the PO except on economic policy. They are led by the identical twins Lech and Jaroslaw Kaczynski. Lech is currently mayor of Warsaw and running a distant second in the presidential polls. The party tends to emphasize nationalism, extreme anti-communism, and the muscular law and order rhetoric that its name suggests. It tends to have a very uneven relationship with the extreme right - occasionally close, occasionally very hostile. Strongly europhobic grudgingly supportive of Polish EU membership. Very pro- American, or at least Republican, very anti-Russian and anti-German. One of its main planks is anti-corruption. However, back when the right last one power in the nineties Jaroslaw Kaczynski famously stated `now it's our fucking turn' - referring to the lucrative patronage opportunities in the state sector. Its closest West European equivalent would be the hardline wing of the CDU (e.g. Koch), the hard right in France (e.g. Pasqua or de Villiers) or the right wing of the British Conservatives. Like the PO its leadership is primarily drawn from the old anti-communist opposition of the eighties.
LPR (League of Polish Families) Extreme right. Emphasis on extreme. Think of an NPD minus any laws curtailing extremism, or any Verfassungsschutz to enforce them. Their moderate wing is roughly the equivalent of a Le Pen or the most right wing of fundy Republicans like Pat Robertson or Rick Santorum. Economically moderately left wing - sort of - any of you who have read fascist writings on the economy will understand. Poland in their eyes is being persecuted and exploited by the Jews, the masons, the Germans. The external agent of the Jewish-masonic-germanic alliance is the EU, the internal one the liberals of both the post dissident and ex-communist variety. They are also anti-American and until very recently tended to be pro-Russian - opposing NATO membership and the Ukrainian revolution. Previous attempts to create a durable extreme right political force failed due to internal power struggles and incompetent leaders. Unfortunately, now they have a telegenic, charismatic, and intelligent leader named Roman Giertych. Giertych is the grandson and annointed political heir of a leading fascist ideologue of the thirties. The extreme right is supported by the fundy Catholic media empire of Father Tadeusz Rydzyk.
Probably won't get into parliament:
PSL - peasant party, traditional coalition partner of the post-communists. They themselves are the heirs to the old communist era puppet peasant party. Over the past decade they have devolved into little more than a patronage party.
SdPl - splinter party of the SLD formed last year in real or feigned outrage at the massive corruption of the SLD. Mostly from the SLD's liberal wing.
Democrats - Attempt to revive the old left-liberal dissident party that played a key role in Polish politics from the fall of communism until the last elections. They'd be my first choice if it looked like they had a chance of getting over the five percent barrier. That doesn't look likely - shows how in tune I am with the Polish electorate.
Current poll numbers (9/15 and 9/17): (five percent barrier for getting into parliament)
This first set would result in a parliament with 210 PO seats, 121 PiS, 57 SLD, 37 Samoobrona, 34 LPR.
Donald Tusk (PO) - 41%/44%
Lech Kaczynski (PiS) 21%
Wlodzimerz Cimosiewicz (SLD- current head of parliament) 19% - dropped out
Andrzej Lepper (Samoobrona) 7%/11%
Marek Borowski (SdPl) 3%/8%
Maciej Giertych (LPR) 3% - seems intelligence and charisma skipped a generation
Cimosiewicz just dropped out following a weeks long campaign accusing him of tax fraud and dubious stock transactions. Considering one of his main strengths was a reputation for honesty by the rather low standards of Polish politics, he was mortally wounded and knew it, regardless of whether or not the accusations were true . Expect his support to mostly split between Tusk and Borowski. If Tusk fails to get fifty percent in the first round expect most of Cimosiewicz's supporters to go for Tusk. As the poll numbers indicate Tusk was already an overwhelming favorite before this most recent bombshell. Barring some major surprise he will be the next president.
Overall the recent poll trend is relatively positive. Last year it occasionally looked like the PiS might narrowly beat out the PO and that the two parties combined would fail to get a majority, meaning a need for a coalition with the LPR. Both the LPR and Samoobrona were doing much better. Lech Kaczynski was for a long tie the favorite in presidential polls. . It seems the main reason for the rise of the PO is the success of EU membership. On the other hand there really is no viable party for a progressive in present day Poland, unless you find kleptocratic socio-liberal ex-apparatchiks with organized crime connections appealing. I don't. Still, it's far better than the nightmare scenario of Lech as president, Jaroslaw as PM and the LPR as coalition partners. But one should be careful, polls have been very volatile.