Political Handbags

Gronkiewicz-WaltzIt looks like Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz may have to say goodbye to the mayoralty of Warsaw. As we know the Civic Platform (PO) candidate for the position of mayor of Warsaw (see my previous blog entry) won by the narrowest of margins not so long ago. However, PO declared it a huge victory for democracy and sanity which may at least allow for the capital of the country to develop and move forward (unlike the rest of the country according to anti-Kaczyński stalwarts).

Kaczyński et al – of Law and Justice (PiS) notoriety – have said the loss was nothing but a blip, although most believed it to be a huge dent to their aspirations of world domination. The biggest loser turned out to be Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz, the PiS candidate who had given up his seat in parliament to become Warsaw stand-in mayor in the hope he would walk the election. Wrong. He lost. Now it seems Marcinkiewicz has turned his back on politics (we’ll see for how long) and has put his name forward to become chairman of PKO BP, one of Poland’s largest banks.

Anyway, it seems that PM Kaczyński has found a way to dislodge Gronkiewicz-Waltz from her perch in the capital city. There is a regulation that states city and town mayors need to declare their assets by a particular date. By law this declaration should be made thirty days after taking power. HG-W did it two days too late. PM Kaczyński believes that from a legal point of view the very moment G-W failed to make the necessary declaration she ceased to be Mayor of Warsaw. What makes the problem particularly juicy is the fact that this problem pertains to around 100 other city and town mayors across Poland.

It seems none of these officials failed to make their declarations on purpose but have simply been late making them. Experts believe that ambiguities in law have led to this situation as there are two pieces of legislation that regulate this matter and to a certain extent contradict each other. Is this enough for someone to lose their office and for the government to call for new municipal elections at a huge cost to the tax payer? PiS thinks so. They will be doing their utmost to force through new elections. Obviously, the opposition disagrees as do Poland’s leading constitutionalists.

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8 Responses to Political Handbags

  1. paul b. says:

    This is quite an obvious absurd. PiS hates PO so Kaczyńskis will find anything that could justify condemning PO’s MPs. Now, they have a great opportunity to show who is in charge in this country and who is the real ruler pointed out by God. Gronkiewicz-Waltz’ being elected was a result of some evil forces, they are perhaps convinced.
    This is again a situation that clearly shows Kaczyński’s heart desire for having the whole country under his cotrol.

    There is no help. People voted on him, we all must suffer the consequences. This is the crucial concept of democracy, probably the worst political system though the fairest. The greatest Paradox of all. As the whole politics, I would dare to say. 😛

  2. rafuzar says:

    Democracy works – I believe – when #everybody# goes to vote, but when a mere 50 or so percent turn out then you don’t have a real image of the politcal direction of the country’s people. What does it mean? Either the country is ignorant or the country doesn’t care. In this case, I think both apply.

  3. paul b. says:

    Yeah, that’s right. When only 50 percent of citizens go to vote, the vote has no point. In such case, perhaps we should think of another political system, huh? Maybe some people dream of it.. of returning to the precedent epoch of communism, when they did not have to think on their own.. I think this is the case in Poland. Besides, Poles did not manage to get used to democracy. I guess, they are afraid of their freedom and the opportunities they have in their hands. Moreover, they may be afraid of changes. Everyone complains but only half of them really believes they can change anything. The other do not – this is THE problem! Poles should start to believe that they REALLY have power to form the shape of their country. That is how democracy works. I cannot understand it. It may be a result of the laziness, of which you wrote before.. sad but true.

    ps. many find it easier to flee from Poland than strive to change the situation. However, this is quite understandable to me since, to a great extent, such people think of feeding their families when they go to UK, Ireland, or anywhere else. It results from the need to provide a family with certain standard of living. Unfortunately, this does not work in the long-term.

  4. rafuzar says:

    It is true that democracy isn’t a perfect system. I think at times it needs a little ‘push’ to help things along. Perhaps making voting compulsory make change matters and make people get used to the idea of taking part in the decision-making process.

  5. Jimbo says:

    In Australia voting is compulsory; I give you John Howard’s fourth term. In Brazil, too; the well-meaning but oddly ineffective populist Luis Inácio ‘Lula’ da Silva. That’s not the answer.

    The problem lies in the fact which Norman Davies pointed out with his usual perspicacity in his ‘Europe’ (my Desert Island book, and no mistake):

    “Democracy has few values of its own: it is as good, or as bad, as the principles of the people who operate it. In the hands of liberal and tolerant people, it will produce a liberal and tolerant government; in the hands of cannibals, a government of cannibals.”

    Look at the mass of Poles, not the educated, open-minded, intelligent and questioning _minority_ to which every one of us here belong (a fact I can confidently assert by virtue of the fact that this is a) a blog, b) in English and c) maintained by such a person, who belongs to all those minorities, and contributed to by his friends, who share most of those qualities).

    We don’t know those people, the farmers, the unemployed factory workers, the shopworkers, the grandmas who listen to Radio Rydzyk. We are not of them, apart from perhaps the occasional elderly relative who we pay little attention to. But those are the people who gave us the Twins, Giertych, Lepper and so on. And until those people are educated in how to take the responsibility for their vote seriously, the situation will continue, in whatever mutations arise in the future.

    Unless, of course, absolutely everyone becomes disgusted with the whole electoral process and gives up. Now they are talking of re-running all those elections whose victors failed to fulfil the same financial requirement as HGW did! So those people who will have to vote then may be turning out for the FIFTH time in a year (2x presidential, possibly 2x parliamentary, 1x local elections)? What kind of turnout will there be? And for what result? That’s the apathy which worries me most.

    As for Pawel’s idea, I like the idea of a ‘new democracy’ on new principles, based perhaps on the Internet, or whatever descends from it, but this post is long enough as it is. 😉

    (PS-I am glad that the LPR are on the back foot, but I am watching Wierzejski closely; he might play a large and nasty role in a post-Giertych far-right party/agglomeration. Him versus Ziobro – how’s that for the Next Generation? ‘Boarding cards, please…’)

  6. rafuzar says:

    Agreed – democracy is simply a mirror of the nation (to a certain extent, of course), but I still believe it to be a warped mirror when a mere 50% go and vote. I’m not suggesting compulsory voting will be a cure-all, but it #will# give us a better idea of what people think. How on earth can PiS have a clear and strong mandate to run the country when much less than a quarter of the population voted for them? Democracy, eh?
    As to the country bumpkins and the grey-haired godsquad it will hopefully be a question of time before these gits die or realise they no longer have a place in the civilised world. One hopes…

  7. Jimbo says:

    That’s exactly what I think, and that’s why I’m more optimistic about Poland’s long-term, so much so that after some consideration I have decided to throw my lot in with this place on as permanent a basis as I can. (Coming oop tert town this week to start flat hunting again.) But the question remains as to how much damage the evil ones can do in the meantime…

  8. rafuzar says:

    How can we change things? How can we prevent the evil that is intolerance and bigotry? Communication has always been, and will always be, the key. That’s why we blog, email, skype etc. The more people, young people know about what is really going on, the more likely it is that things will change.
    I love the internet, I adore the blogosphere, wikipedia and all these ‘fountains of knowledge’. It is with the internet that the revolution, the cultural and intellectual revolution shall begin. It has already begun. May we all live in interesting times! 🙂

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