Polish Londoner

These are the thoughts and moods of a born Londoner who is proud of his Polish roots.

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Polish elections - The pragmatists win - only just

Jaroslaw Kaczynski has graciously conceded defeat in the presidential elections in Poland after the exit polls showed him winning between 47% and 49% of the votes.

While Kaczynski may have been gracious I am not so sure that some of his fanatical supporters will be so kind.

It has been a strange kind of election as the tectonic plates of public opinon rumbled dangerously beneath a seemingly calm surface. As a candidate Kaczynski was calm and presidential appealing for a clean unemotional electoral debate but the poisonous bile spilling from the patriotic and religious fervour and frustration of his many supporters spilled from every pore on the internet, in the right wing press and radio stations and in the private utterances of his voters whenever they felt that their auduence shared their prejudices.
This lava of hatred against Komorowski, Tusk and the whole liberal establishment has not yet dried up. Komorowski is often vilified as a liberal stooge of Russia and Communism, but it is not Communism these people hate so much as Liberalism. To them the economic liberalism of Finance Minister Rostowski and Balcerowicz is as vile and materialistic as the social liberalism that tolerates gays, womens' rights and the other symbols of the liberal European zeitgist.

This hatred is matched all too evenly by the contempt and scorn of the liberal and intellectual elements in Poland against Kaczynski and his troops. They have been compared to Tolkien-created auks and the atmosphere around Radio Maryja as the darkening skies emanating from Mordor. They had shown a similar contempt in the past to the late President Lech Kaczynski, often mocking him for his size and his ignorance of any foreign language, and it was this mockery that may have partly driven the stubborn President to his terrible and tragic death as well as the death of his 95 fellow passengers. We know that the pilot had his orders, and when we can guess from who and under what motivation.

Neither of these attitudes, hatred on the one hand and contempt on the other, is healthy and Komorowski will have to tread gingerly on egg shells in order to heal this national rift. I am not sure if he has the temperament for this as too often he too has shown a flippant contempt for Kaczynski's followers, as when he dismissed the model phallus presented to him at a public meeting in London as something he won't require.
Komorowski is a brave and patriotic man, a former competent defence minister, a former arrested internee in the days of KOR and Solidarity, but he too should be aware that the PO is far too trusting in its persistence to support the euro during the current crisis, far too trusting to the Russians over the Smolensk tragedy and far too glib over the impact of high unemployment in the countryside and provincial towns.
Kaczynski was appealing to his electorate not only because of his social conservatism but also his distrust of Europe, globalism and capitalism in general. In his economic policy Kaczynski's PiS party is far to the left of the Labour Party and for that reason alone, if for no other, an extraordinary ally for David Cameron to choose as a partner in the European Parliament.

However perhaps at last this election result will release the traumatic puss that gathered beneath the recent exalted national psyche following the Smolensk disaster. Not a moment too soon.

1 comment:

  1. Welcome to the blogosphere, Wiktor!

    And a splendindly balanced post with which to start. The post-Smolensk rifts in Polish society run deep and you have hit the nail on the head. In the UK and the US, social conservatism tends to be allied with economic liberalism, while economic socialists tend to be social liberals.

    This is why Polish politics are hard to follow for your average Brit or Yank; "If Kaczyński is right-wing, why is he against privatisation?"