Politics in a vicious circle

Witold Dudziński

After these elections we did not wake up in different Poland; maybe only in a respect that for the first time in the history of the Third Republic of Poland the existing government has won the elections again.
In what way, why it happened so and what consequences it will bring - here the opinion is clearly divided.

The results of the parliamentary elections go without saying. The Civic Platform Party has introduced over 200 members into the Seym, the Law and Justice party – nearly 160 members. The rest of members were introduced by the Democratic Left Alliance, the Polish Peasant Party and the Movement of Palikot – from 27 to 40 members of parliament respectively. Whereas the Senate was divided between the Civic Platform Party and the Law and Justice Party in the proportion of three to two. Therefore, there will not be independent governments of the Civic Platform Party, which were suggested by this political party, and its leader repeated that there was no one who would overcome him. The existing coalition will still govern, certainly with the support of the Democratic Left Alliance and the Movement of Palikot.
Poles woke up in the post-election morning facing the same problems as everyday: queues in medical centre, scandalously low wages – states the member of the Law and Justice Party and of euro-parliament Tadeusz Cymański. – Poland still has young democracy. But we must believe our society.
I do not expect a bigger change in the policy of the government. It is simply not advantageous for the government. – adds dr Robert Gwiazdowski, a lawyer and economist, and an expert for the Centre of Adam Smith. – Poland is the same but the low attendance at the election is shocking – thinks Tadeusz Majchrowicz, a vice-chairman of the ‘Solidarity’. – Another surprise is the accession to the Seym of the urban Self-defence Party which consists of the people of Palikot and - as he judges - a weak result of the left-wing party.

A vicious circle

The results of the two last political groups are a surprise. Because of different reasons – one fed itself at the expense of another. – Our weak result, however, is not only the result of mistakes made by the chairman Napieralski but the lack of loyalty among many colleagues from the Democratic Left Alliance who are distancing from their leader in a demonstrative way, and also the result of Palikot’s game against low, left-wing, anticlerical instincts and the attitude of media – says a famous politician of the Democratic Left Alliance.
Dr Tomasz Żukowski, a sociologist from the Warsaw University emphasizes that we have always had a few citizens in Poland with anticlerical views but it is the first time a politician has appeared who refers only to them in the first place. This good result of Palikot, as he evaluated during the talk with the Catholic Information Agency, is a consequence of the behavior of some elites which allowed for the presence of radical anticlericalism in the public space which is proved by the support of Palikot by such people as Andrzej Olechowski and the presence of ‘Nergal’, the Satanist approved by media.
According to Tadeusz Majchrowicz voting in his electoral district in Krosno in favour of Małgorzata Marcinkiewicz connected with the Movement of Palikot is something astonishing. – It is a completely anonymous lady who nobody has ever seen or heard about, and I have not seen her poster, either. But she became a member of parliament - says Majchrowicz. He is also more concerned by the fact that over half of citizens of the young Polish democracy do not go to elections. – It can mean that people are not educated enough in this area and also the fact that they are disgusted by politicians and they do not intend to elect them – he thinks.
We must reach to these people – the vice-chairman of the ‘Solidarity’ emphasizes. – Near Gdansk where I work, people were asked in a village where there was the lowest attendance why it happens so. People, including their mayor said that nobody takes care of them and no member of parliament has ever visited them so why do they have to vote? In my opinion it is a vicious circle: nobody cares for the excluded ones as they do not go to elections anyway, and they do not go because nobody takes care of them.

Political parties and not personalities

The elections to the Senate which took place according to different rules than the existing ones (there was voting in the single-mandate districts), predicted many changes: personalities were to be important in them. However, hopes were dashed. Not personalities won but political parties, especially one. The losers in the election are, among the others, experienced senators – Zbigniew Romaszewski and Piotr Andrzejewski, starting with the recommendation of the Law and Justice party.
A new solution was imposed by the ruling coalition of the Civic Platform and Polish Peasant party, manipulating, by the way, the boundaries of the districts in favour of their candidates – emphasizes Piotr Andrzejewski, a senator of the previous term of office and who was not elected this time. – We warned that dispersing votes for many candidates would give each of them a minimum of support, but the Senate amendment of the Law and Justice Party suggesting another round of election was rejected. It did not reach mass media or the awareness of electors. In this case, as Andrzejewski wrote among the others in ‘Nasz Dziennik’ (‘Our Daily’), that the coalition of the Civic Platform Party and the Polish Peasant Party carried out ‘real legislative blitzkrieg and applied the extraordinary litigate procedure’. A rule was breached – he warned – as changes of electoral law made in the ad hoc are unacceptable and the districts had been cut in such a way to meet the expectations the government, manipulation of the boundaries of the districts was done, and their geographical range adjusted to the preference of the Civic Platform Party.
Due to this change, Jarosław Flis, a sociologist from the Jagiellonian Univeristy predicted that he strengthens the position of big political parties. – Single-mandated election districts were to cause the dominance of personalities. Realities are that we deal with the dominance of big political parties – he states. In most regions the victory guarantee was a signboard of the Civic Platform Party and in the southern, south-eastern and partly middle Poland – the Law and Justice Party. The arrangement of votes in the election for the Senate is a bit similar to that one in the election for the Seym.

On one side

Some commentators emphasize that the Law and Justice Party in this election was not fighting for a result but was fighting against the Civic Platform Party and, first of all, against the media. There were a lot of cases when liberal media were extremely involved in favour of the governing party. They were spurred by Adam Michnik and the commentators of his newspaper thanked openly to Tomasz Lis, a presenter of debates in the public television, for the fact that he ‘split the mask’ of the leader of the Law and Justice Party, not liked by them. This was pointed out by one of the comments – as if, after a match, one of the teams thanked for help to.......a referee.
Wiktor Świetlik, a director of the Centre for Monitoring of the Press Freedom, states (stressing that he does it as a journalist, not a manager of the Centre), that at the time of the electoral campaign many journalists forgot what job they do. – They changed into specialists of political marketing but the asymmetry in sympathy and transmission was clearly in favour of the governing party, not the opposition – he says. – The disproportion was shocking and unjustified. The Civic Platform Party was a party which was sympathized with and the Law and Justice party was fought against.
It is well illustrated by – as Świetlik emphasizes – the history by Ewa Czeszejko-Sochacka, a candidate of the Civic Platform Party in Warsaw for the Seym. She was recorded when, just before the election, she was scratching somebody’s car as a revenge for blocking the exit from a garage. – If somebody else than an MP candidate had done it, like a councillor of the Law and Justice Party – media would have debated the matter for three days before the election but because it was a candidate of the Civic Platform Party, very few people heard about it. Somebody wrote accurately in ‘Poland the Times’ that during the campaign journalists were behaving in such a way as if they were taking care of their work for the next four years.

Survey results

The situation of the Law and Justice Party is not comfortable as its distance towards the Civic Platform Party was not a few (as it was assumed on the eve of the Election Day), but only 10 percents. The Law and Justice Party did not become strong, as it was assumed, but maintained only on the position of the main opposition force. No wonder that most liberal media, according to the rule of looking at the hands of not the governing people but the opposition, concentrated on the political party of Jarosław Kaczynski vigorously after the election.
The survey used by us, did not reflect a real situation completely. In Poland not everybody admits to their preference – explained Adam Hofman, a chairman of the Law and Justice Party. However, he admitted that the political party must answer the question how to prepare for the next election, how to talk and communicate with Poles so that it would be effective, especially that there is not going to be any stabilization but frustration of the society.
Robert Gwiazdowski does not expect any bigger change in the policy of the government. The former government of Donald Tusk did not convince us that he could do something reasonable and, surely, nothing is going to change in this respect.
The times of the politicians who wanted to enter the history as those who have done something great, so that the history, not the electors would evaluate them, have passed long time ago. There are no politicians like Reagan, Mrs Thatcher, Kohl or Adenauer. The most important thing for politicians is apparently winning the election. Today a large part of the society uses the survey results. However, the survey results do not help in implementing reforms needed in Poland.
In the beginning of the term of office, when it is easy to implement reforms, we should not care about important changes in the government procedure. Now everything is, to some extent, all right and this will be maintained by the governing people. However, I expect many bumps in the world’s economy. And these bumps will also enforce changes in the procedure of the Polish government – states dr Gwiazdowski.


"Niedziela" 43/2011

Editor: Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela", ul. 3 Maja 12, 42-200 Czestochowa, Polska
Editor-in-chief: Fr Jaroslaw Grabowski • E-mail: redakcja@niedziela.pl