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%.


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.


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’.


Left or Right?

April 6, 2009

Fighting & In-fighting

Fighting & In-fighting

Picture the scene: a country on the verge of complete decay. People with no money, no food; social unrest in the streets, freedom of speech does not exist and Big Brother has such power that people cannot trust their own neighbours. This is a state in collapse, ready to implode and disappear.

Birth of Peace
Then, just as this nation is about to evaporate into nothingness a group of people appear who are ready to fight for survival, fight for freedom and fight for the right to speak out. The non-violent Solidarność is born and with it one of the most famous figures of the 20th century, Lech Wałęsa. Solidarity manages to negotiate  a level of cooperation with the communist authorities and set in motion a remarkable turn of events which, domino-like, bring about the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of communism in Eastern Europe.

Beginning of the End
After the incredible success of the Round Table Talks which sees Solidarność sit down with their adversaries the communists, Solidarity remarkably gain a foothold in government and soon the right-wing, with Solidarity as its chief flag-bearer, becomes a real force to be reckoned with. Poland’s future looks bright and its political system seems to be reaching an equilibrium of sorts. However, with power comes intoxication and Poland’s right-wing begins to bicker, quarrel and eventually fragment. Factions appear and the unity of Solidarity crashes to an unceremonious end.

When Right is Left
A united right-wing is no more. In fact, the idea that the right-wing was ever unified was simply illusory and at most pie-in-the-sky. Solidarity was a trade union. Its doctrine of workers’ rights and equality was socialist in nature, not right-wing. The leaders of Law and Justice (PiS) and Civic Platform (PO) may share a common heritage (in Solidarity) but neither would dream of being called socialist. In reality, the closest Poland has to a Solidarity-like party is the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD), the offspring of the communist Polish United Workers’ Party (PZPR), sworn enemies of Solidarność.

PiS vs. PO
Polish politics is a strange beast. PiS claims to be right-wing, although at times it appears to be socialist (worker rights, pensioner rights and social hand-outs), whereas at other times it verges on fascist extremism. PO, also claiming to be right-wing, is often seen to be ultra-liberal, at times dangerously (for them) conservative. Anyone who did not know that they shared a common heritage would be most surprised. It might prove useful to finally do away with this leftist-rightest distinction as it does justice neither to Poland’s parties nor does it help in categorising them.

The Church
The terms left and right do not seem to mean anything anymore. They have become worn-out and arbitrary. In fact, the closest we can get in describing them is through the dichotomy: pro-church/anti-church, or to be more specific, pro-Catholic/anti-Catholic. In other words, in Poland, a right-wing party is (generally) a pro-Catholic party whereas a left-wing party is an anti-Catholic party. If this is the case, does this make Poland a secular or a religious state?


What kind of President are you, anyway?

January 30, 2008

Donald & Kaczor Oh dear. To be honest the Lech Kaczyński-Donald Tusk tiff is becoming embarrassing. In truth both Kaczyński and Tusk are to blame for the farce that is Polish domestic and international politics.

Sikorski Come Home
Another hot spot blew up when Kaczyński ordered Radosław Sikorski, Foreign Affairs Minister to return to Poland before he went off to the Ukraine. The President demanded he be informed, in person, of what Sikorski wished to discuss while in Kiev. This childlike outburst was both annoying and unnecessary. Sikorski was several minutes before an important speech in Brussels concerning EU-Serbia relations. Kaczyński refused to speak to him on the phone. Rattles were thrown out of the pram. He had to cancel the speech. When Sikorski arrived hastily in Warsaw to meet the President, the conversation turned to US politics rather than Urainian relations. It became obvious that Kaczyński had ordered Sikorski to return to Poland to spite Sikorski and Civic Platform (PO), the ruling party.

President or Bust
What is incredible about the whole Kaczyński-Tusk dispute is the fact that the two of them were neighbours and (allegedly) good friends for a long time. Tusk, as most people know, has designs on the Presidency and will most certainly try and get himself elected President at the next elections. Kaczyński realises this and will do anything to taint the image of his one-time friend and neighbour. What is sad is the fact that the Polish concept of solidarity has gone out the window. Both men were important members of the Solidarity movement. Power corrupts, power is intoxicating and has gone to the head of both men.

Little Man, Big Job
The President of a country should be a figure-head, a role model of sorts. However, this little man has about as much charisma as a wet teddy bear. Lech Kaczyński is not and never will be a statesman or a leader of men. He is feeble, boring and very irritating. His body language says it all. He is a suspicious little man, uncomfortable with one of the most responsible positions in one of the largest countries of Europe. His rhetoric is negative and full of bile. And more frighteningly, he is completely at the beck and call of his twin brother. Jarosław says jump, Lech jumps; Jarosław says beg, Lech begs; Jarosław says follow, Lech follows.

PiS President
Lech Kaczyński is joint head of Law and Justice (PiS) in all but name. He represents the views of his brother’s party and his little minions. He does not represent the country. He is not a real president. Opinion polls paint a dark picture. Lech Kaczyński is neither a popular figure nor a politican that Polish people trust. He is regarded by most media commentators as a puppet of Jarosław, his twin brother. Poland has a president but it does not have a President (with a capital ‘P’). The average Polish person feels no pride in the fact that this man represents their country. Sad but true.


Lost Little Boy

November 30, 2007

Jarek LostIt looks like the recent election defeat of Law and Justice (PiS) has tipped Jarosław Kaczyński over the edge. He seems to be flapping about like a lost little boy, thrashing out at times at members of his own party who dare question him or look for reason sfor why the party lost the elections. Humiliated ex-PM Kaczyński recently declared that Civic Platform’s (PO) total control of parliament is a serious threat to democracy in Poland. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black!

We all remember former Justice Minister Ziobro calling a press conference every two days to announce yet another fallen politician entwined in the evil black web of corruption. Poland’s judicial system was seriously compromised and its public prosecutors were even given orders to do the bidding of Ziobro. Nice!

Poland’s dirty washing was constantly on show to the world with senior ministers announcing that all of Poland’s previous Foreign Minister were all communist agents. Very tactful! While Tusk and company are trying to patch up relations between Russia and the European Union, Jarosław Kaczyński is using his brother, the President, to do his dirty work and criticise literally every move undertaken by Tusk or his team.

Ignorance, perhaps, may be bliss for Tusk if he does the right thing and ignores the not-so-wise words of the twins…