Has Kaczyński Finally Lost It?

September 11, 2010
Has Grief Twisted Him?

Has Grief Twisted Him?

After losing his twin brother Lech in the Smolensk air crash, Jarosław Kaczyński appears to be on a political suicide mission. His one goal in life seems to be avenging his brother’s death. Kaczyński’s grief seems to have twisted him to the point of believing that Russia/Prime Donald Tusk/President Bronisław Komorowski (delete where appropriate) are the perpetrators of this heinous alleged crime. One of his closest aides, Antoni Macierewicz, has even openly stated that discovering the culprits of the air crash is now the most important mission for Law and Justice (PiS) and Poland.

The Mask Removed

The Mask Removed

The first cracks began to appear following Kaczyński’s loss in the presidential election to Bronisław Komorowski. Kaczyński’s softly-softly approach was soon substituted by a more hardline and aggressive stance. The ‘mask’ of the presidential campaign had been removed, according to political commentators; the real Kaczyński was back. His first act was to boycott the presidential inauguration claiming Komorowski was only president due to the death of his brother.

Same Old Tactics

Same Old Tactics

Kaczyński has since been adding fuel to the flames of the ‘cross scandal‘ outside the Presidential Palace in Warsaw with his fellow PiS-ites stoking up ill feeling and controversy. It was at this point that it became clear that his only aim was now to cause dissent, manipulate the truth and attempt to blame someone for the death of his brother on the back of pseudo-Catholicism and the worship of the Christian symbol of the cross.

Puppet Master or Master Fool?

Puppet Master or Master Fool?

On seeing this blind fervour and hate growing to monstrous proportions, Solidarity heroine Henryka Krzywonos exploded in a rant against Kaczyński. This was soon followed by Tadeusz Mazowiecki’s and Lech Wałęsa’s criticisms of Kaczyński and then Bishop Pieronek’s open attack on PiS. Seeing the farce that was threatening to ruin PiS, Marek Migalski, a PiS MEP, also dug into Kaczyński, after which he was thrown out of the party. The dust had not even settled and yet another PiS member, Elżbieta Jakubiak, was ostentatiously thrown out of the party.

Oblivious to All Around Him?

Oblivious to All Around Him?

Events in and around PiS circles have escalated to the point that even his own party members have begun to question his political nous. Polls too are showing clearly that Kaczyński has simply lost it. The most recent TNS OBOP survey shows that ruling Civic Platform (PO) would claim 52% of the votes in a parliamentary election, PiS would score 25% (a massive 11% drop since April) and the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) would manage 20%.

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Death of Solidarity

August 31, 2010
Spotlight on Poland

Spotlight on Poland

Nobody could have envisaged that the thirtieth anniversary of the birth of Solidarność (in August 1980) would turn into a farce and sound the death knell for Poland’s first trade union. It is fair to say that the anniversary celebrations symbolically, yet unintentionally, brought about the end of the heroic Solidarność of August 1980. The Janusz Śniadek-led politically-distorted Solidarity of 2010 has absolutely nothing in common with the Solidarity of 1980 that brought together people of varying views, opinions and political allegiances. Lech Wałęsa’s refusal to attend the celebrations was a clear cutting of the umbilical cord and demonstration of the fact that the legacy of Solidarity 1980 is to be found elsewhere, not in Solidarity 2010.

Tusk Called For Solidarity But Was Booed

Tusk Called For Solidarity But Was Booed

What was shocking about the celebrations was the reception that Prime Minister Donald Tusk got from the trade union members. Tusk, a former Solidarity member and activist, was hissed and jeered at when he asked the audience what had happened to the old Solidarity which brought together religious people, atheists, opposition activists and communists alike all for the good of the country. There was no room for hate. To this the hall erupted in a chorus of whistles and boos. Likewise, President Komorowski was greeted with hostility. It was only when PiS head Jarosław Kaczyński took the stage that the hecklers finally settled down giving him rapturous round of applause.

Kaczyński Giving Tusk 'The Evils'

Kaczyński Giving Tusk ‘The Evils’

Why was Jarosław Kaczyński giving a speech in the first place? He neither espouses to the ideals of tolerance and solidarity nor was he an integral member of the original movement. His place at the anniversary celebrations was misplaced, misconceived and misguided. He had neither the authority not the right to stand up and talk about ‘solidarity’ with the views he holds. In his speech he talked about manipulation and lies whilst looking straight at PM Tusk. Unsurprisingly, he talked about his patriotic brother Lech Kaczyński who, he alleged, had struggled with Tadeusz Mazowiecki (Poland’s first non-communist post-war Prime Minister) and Bronisław Geremek (Minister of Foreign Affairs) who were ready to give up the fight.

Henryka Krzywonos Strikes Back

Henryka Krzywonos Strikes Back

A hurt and shell-shocked Mazowiecki confronted Kaczyński afterwards telling him that what he had said was a complete pack of lies to which Kaczyński replied that he had a different view of what had happened. Mazowiecki retorted: “This has nothing to do with anyone’s views. It is about the facts and what happened. Gemerek’s no longer with us. How could you?! The facts are completely different”. However, what really rocked the celebrations was Henryka Krzywonos’ impromptu speech.

Henryka Krzywonos Saves The Day

Henryka Krzywonos Saves The Day

The former Solidarity heroine and tram driver hit the headlines when she brought traffic to a standstill and initiated a Solidarity-led strike in August 1980 when she stopped her tram. After hearing Kaczyński and the jeers at Tusk, she ploughed into the audience and Jarosław Kaczyński claiming that the members of Solidarity had worked for the good of everyone and to boo at PM Tusk was simply out of order. As for Kaczyński, she said she did not know what had happened to him but he should stop stirring things up and let people get on with their lives. “It is you,” she said to Jarosław Kaczyński, “who is destroying Lech’s [Kaczyński] dignity”.

Solidarność began life as a movement fighting for the rights of workers. Sadly, this non-violent and tolerant institution, open for all, became embroiled in politics and has since become the lapdog of Kaczyński’s Law and Justice (PiS). As Henryka Krzywonos, one of the original signatories of the Solidarity Gdańsk Agreement (pol. Porozumienie Sierpniowe) said, “The name ‘Solidarity’ binds and obligates us”. It certainly does; solidarity obligates us to work together, in tolerance and openness with one another.


Poland Has a Cross to Bear

August 18, 2010

Shit Hits the Plaque

Shit Hits the Plaque

Things have really reached boiling point and one could colloquially add that the shit really has hit the fan in Poland. A ‘faecal’ assailant soiled the plaque commemorating the death of President Lech Kaczyński and 95 other passengers in the Smolensk air tragedy. A 71-year-old threw a strategically aimed pot of poo at the memorial tablet in central Warsaw. He was arrested by police and taken away. This follows several months of  squabbling over what should happen to the cross that was temporarily erected outside the Presidential Palace by scouts in memory of the victims of the Smolensk tragedy.

José & Jarek - Feel the Love

José Luis Zapatero & Jarek Kaczyński - Feel the Love

It all started when President Bronisław Komorowski announced that the temporary wooden cross should be transferred to a more appropriate place, specifically Saint Anne’s Church, not far from the Presidential Palace. The cross is of course a religious symbol and not a symbol of state and it is inappropriate to leave it outside the Presidential Palace. His comments kicked off a storm with Jarosław Kaczyński claiming Komorowski was anti-catholic and a proponent of the evil of what he termed ‘Zapaterism’.

Crucifixion Anyone?

Crucifixion Anyone?

The odd thing is that no one, apart from Jarosław Kaczyński, seems to know what evil deed it is that Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero has done. With a lack of decent policies, sound ideas and competent opinions, Kaczyński has been using the cross as a political makeweight. In fact, he has said that the policies of Law & Justice (PiS) will now revolve around the Smolensk tragedy. Kaczyński is literally crucifying his own party and followers in pursuit of his own personal mission. His personal loss seems to have clouded his judgement and the cross has begun to symbolise his hurt rather than the mission of Christ and his followers. Those so-called ‘defenders’ of the cross are to Catholics what hooligans are to regular football fans.

Christian or Fascist?

Christian or Fascist?

A fine example of the utter blindness of these so-called Christians was their behaviour when the day came to move the cross. Priests from Saint Anne’s came to lead the cross in procession from the Presidential Palace to Saint Anne’s Church. The reaction of these ‘Catholics’ was to scream and shout at the Catholic priests calling them traitors and, of all things, “Jews”. Odd, to say the least. We have reached an impasse and the only real way to resolve it is for the two main protagonists, President Komorowski and Jarosław Kaczyński, to sit down and reach an adequate compromise. Then again pigs might fly…


The Rydzykisation of Poland?

July 29, 2010

The Good Father Rydzyk

Rydzyk - the Good Father

Jan Wróbel in a recent article in Wirtualna Polska talks about the ‘rydzykisation’ (pol. rydzykizacja) of not only Poland but surprisingly also of Civic Platform (PO). He is, of course, referring to Tadeusz Rydzyk the de facto head of catholic Radio Maryja and catholic TV station TV Trwam. He claims that although ‘rydze’ (pol. red pine mushrooms – a pun on the word Rydzyk) have been growing in the fields of Law and Justice (PiS) for quite some time, PO has now become infested. Wróbel believes the tide is turning. Many people were overjoyed when PiS was defeated in the parliamentary elections and the three-headed PiS-Samoobrona-LPR monster was resoundingly vanquished. However, the Smoleńsk tragedy changed all that and Law and Justice, like a phoenix from the flames, has returned and is ready to do battle.

Kaczyński - King of Conservatives

Kaczyński - King of Conservatives

Civic Platform could have never expected the support with which millions of people endowed Lech Kaczyński following his death in Smolensk. In many ways, he is a martyr… a political martyr. His death has in many ways helped turn around the fortunes of both PiS and his brother Jarosław Kaczyński. Before his death, all polls were showing a landslide victory for Bronisław Komorowski against Lech Kaczyński. Following the tragedy, Jarosław Kaczyński was only several percentage points away from defeating Komorowski in the presidential campaign. Radio Maryja and TV Trwam helped in this campaign but the truth of the matter is that many people were simply fed up with PO’s promises, PR and politicking. They wanted more substance and Jarosław Kaczyński was the man to give it to them.

Palikot - the Real Demon

Palikot - the Real Demon

Even though Komorowski won, Civic Platform wants revenge. It wants revenge for all those weeks of post-Smolensk emotional turmoil, Kaczyński adulation and Kaczyński hero worship. It too needs its Rydzyk, a hate-filled character that can move mountains. Civic Platform has unleashed its biggest monster. PO has unleashed Janusz Palikot. Compared to him, Tadeusz Rydzyk is a cherub. When we talk about a rydzykisation of Polish politics, we are actually talking about a politics of negation, of antipathy and of hate. Rydzyk has perfected this to an art (to the benefit of PiS). Now PO, with all their talk of a politics of love, of positivity and cooperation, are doing the same with Palikot. Is he, as so many supporters of PiS believe, a  harbinger of moral decay, or is he a sobering force in Poland’s emotional-driven political battleground?

rydzykizacja

Poland Still Divided

June 21, 2010

2010 Elections | (c) Krynicki

2010 Elections | (c) Krynicki

The first round of the Polish presidential elections are behind us. Civic Platform (PO) candidate Bronisław Komorowski manages 41% while Law and Justice (PiS) candidate Jarosław Kaczyński gets 37%. These two candidates will now battle it out for the Polish presidency in the second round on July 4. For many, Komorowski’s lowly 41% and Kaczyński’s impressive 37% are surprising but we have to take a few factors into consideration. Firstly, both candidates are substitutes: Komorowski was elected after Tusk decided not to run in the presidential elections whereas Jarosław Kaczyński only decided to run after the death of his brother, the then President. Secondly, the Smolensk tragedy has played its part in dulling the campaign. Thirdly, the recent floods have done little to help raise the profile of the elections.

PiS Underestimated | (c) Krynicki

PiS Underestimated | (c) Krynicki

Interestingly, year-in-year-out, the polls seem to be out of touch with reality. Every time we see the newest surveys and exit polls they all seem to suggest a greater margin of victory for PO over PiS. Every time, the margin of error is greater than we might expect. In other words, polls in Poland simply cannot be trusted, as come every election, PiS always manages to get around 5-10% more than the polls suggest.

Polish Rail Network

Rail Network Division of Poland

However, it is neither Komorowski’s disappointing result or Kaczyński’s first-round turn-around that is intriguing. What is really thought-provoking is the fact that after centuries of turmoil and upheaval, Poland is still a country divided. In a previous post, we saw how the Polish partitions had done much to create ‘two Polands’ – Eastern and Western. Poland’s rail network can be divided along these lines with the east far less ‘dense’ than the west. These borders almost exactly match the partition borders of 1795!

2010 Division of Poland

2010 Division of Poland

Some of you may wonder what this has to do with the elections? Quite a lot. Poland was partitioned along the 1795 demarcation lines given above; Poland’s current rail network mirrors, almost perfectly, these same borders. What is surprising is the fact that after 215 years this East-West division still persists. When we look at the regions in which Komorowski  and Kaczyński were victorious, we see this same pattern is repeated. West voted for Komorowski, East voted Kaczyński. Not only is this East-West divide economic in nature but also political. Both candidates and parties should think long and hard about why this is happening and what can be done to address the ‘problem’.


Piece of Plane Becomes Holy Relic

April 29, 2010

Holy Piece of Tupolev Tu-154

Holy Piece of Tupolev Tu-154

If anyone had previously believed Poland was a secular state there is no doubt now that the opposite is true following the tragic Smolensk air crash. In some ways it was comforting to see the very public outpouring of grief after the disaster but what was striking were the religious overtones that accompanied the grief. Mourners spoke of the “need” to join in grief and the “duty” of every “real Polish, Catholic patriot” to say goodbye to the President. What was even more striking were the mourners who queued for up to eighteen hours to kneel and make the sign of the cross before the coffins of President Lech Kaczyński and Maria Kaczyński. To outsiders looking in, it would appear that tens of thousands of Polish people were saying farewell to a holy man, a saint perhaps.

The Virgin Mary's New Clothes

The Virgin Mary's New Clothes

Now it seems that a piece of the Tupolev Tu-154 has taken on Holy Relic status. Inhabitants of Smolensk found a small piece of the plane and gifted it to Poland. Father Roman Majewski of the Jasna Góra Monastery, Poland’s most famous holy sanctuary, has said that this relic will become “a testament to the tragedy and a symbol of our love for our nation”. The tiny piece of the Tupolev Tu-154 will adorn the new ‘robes and crown’ of the Black Madonna of Częstochowa, Poland’s holiest relic. As well as the piece of the Tupolev, the Virgin Mary’s new robes, designed by Mariusz Drapikowski, will also contain fragments of meteorites found on the Moon, Mars and Mercury.


Was Kaczyński A Hero?

April 14, 2010
Royal Wawel - Place of Kings

Royal Wawel - Place of Kings

The tragic death of President Lech Kaczyński and the 95 other passengers of flight 101 in Smolensk has opened up a veritable Pandora’s box of constitutional, political and moral issues. The first is whether or not President Lech Kaczyński should be buried in the hallowed chambers of Wawel Royal Castle, Kraków, final resting place of Poland’s kings and queens, greatest poets, military leaders and heroes. The news that President Kaczyński might be buried in Kraków hit the headlines on Tuesday 13th April after which protesters took to the streets in Kraków with banners reading “Kraków for Kings, Presidents for Powązki (Warsaw’s finest cemetary). The decision has already been taken (by Kaczyński’s family and the Archbishop of Kraków) but was it the right decision?

Is Kaczyński Another Piłsudski?

Is Kaczyński Another Piłsudski?

Lech Aleksander Kaczyński had always been in awe of former President and commander-in-chief of the armed forces Józef Piłsudski. Therefore, the decision by the late President’s family to bury him alongside his hero was a natural choice. Many believe it only right for Poland’s patriotic leader and Catholic family man to rest alongside the great Piłsudski. They also believe it fitting for Lech Kaczyński to be buried in Wawel Castle as he is the first non-communist President to have died after Poland’s independence in 1989. Many are calling for the new national stadium to be named after Kaczyński, others are calling him a hero as he died serving Poland while visiting those who died in Katyń. Was he a hero? Are his accomplishments comparable with those of, for example, Piłsudski?

Piłsudski Waits for Kaczyński

Piłsudski Waits for Kaczyński

I have no doubt that President Lech Kaczyński, may he rest in peace, was a good, warm, caring person who had Poland and the good of Poland at the very core of his being. I also have no doubt that the tragic Smolensk air crash will change the world’s conception of the Katyń massacre and for this I will forever be in debt to all those who died in the shocking air disaster on the 10th April. Let us also remember that the crash was an accident, a terrible, terrible accident and therefore can we speak of heroism? History has been changed and whatever we may have thought about Lech Kaczyński before the accident is now no longer relevant. He will lie in the crypts of Wawel Castle whether we like it or not, whether we agree with this decision or not. How the world sees Kaczyński, how it sees Katyń, how it sees Poland will now depend on how Poland, and the people of Poland, react to what has happened and what follows. For the time being, the people of Poland have again shown the world the meaning of solidarity, the meaning of unity and the meaning of peace.