October 24, 2005


Polish right-winger scoops presidency (Andrew Rettman, 10/24/05, EU Observer)

Right-winger Lech Kaczynski won the Polish presidential elections on Sunday (23 October), in a result that could delay the formation of a new government.

Exit polls gave the Law and Justice candidate 55 percent of the vote beating Civic Platform's more liberal Donald Tusk, with official numbers due on Monday.

Polish daily Rzeczpospolita reports that older people living in rural areas with a basic level of education formed the backbone of Mr Kaczynski's support. [...]

The result might damage Law and Justice and Civic Platform's efforts to form a coalition government.

Mr Kaczynski made conciliatory remarks to Mr Tusk following the news, offering him the post of speaker in the lower house, while the party's prime ministerial candidate, Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz, said he plans to forge a government deal by Friday.

But Civic Platform member Bronislaw Komorowski said his party might be better off making a strong opposition to Law and Justice instead.

The two parties each hold about a quarter of the seats in parliament, with newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza explaining that if Civic Platform was to block the government's plans, it could force an early second election.

The parties are split on the economy, with Law and Justice pushing for better welfare and delayed eurozone entry, while Civic Platform favours tighter fiscal policy and euro entry in 2010. [...]

Law and Justice ran on an anti-corruption ticket with Roman Catholic and eurosceptic overtones, scoring pre-election points by criticising gay rights campaigners and talking positively about the death penalty, which is illegal in the EU.

As mayor, Mr Kaczynski tried to block a gay pride march in Warsaw in June, while Mr Marcinkiewicz recently told Newseek that homosexuality is "unnatural".

The leader of the European Parliament's socialist MEPs, Martin Schulz, described the remark as "shocking".

You have to wonder if a period of economic liberal reaction after seventy years of communism might better precede the synthesis, but can't quarrel with them cutting to the Anglospheric chase.

Kaczynski is elected president in Poland (Judy Dempsey, OCTOBER 24, 2005, International Herald Tribune)

Lech Kaczynski of the conservative Law and Justice Party defeated his rightist rival, Donald Tusk, in the battle to become Poland's next president, according to exit polls after Sunday's election.

The Kaczynski victory is likely to lead to a much tougher foreign policy, particularly toward Germany, Russia and the European Union, as he honors his pledge of a more vigorous defense of Poland's national interests. [...]

Poland's president wields considerable power. He is commander-in-chief of the armed forces, has a major voice in influencing economic and foreign policy and can veto legislation.

Kaczynski, 56, mayor of Warsaw, favors cutting taxes and sharply reducing state costs while increasing family benefits and retirement contributions.

His Law and Justice Party won the most seats in last month's parliamentary elections and is due to start coalition talks with the Civic Platform party.

Kaczynski's twin brother, Jaroslav, is a high official in the party, and the two will wield immense power in the country.

Although both Law and Justice and Civil Platform, Parliament's second-largest party, are conservative, the differences between them are as profound as the divisions in Polish society, which has undergone a radical economic and political transformation since the collapse of communism 15 years ago.

Kaczynski, a former member of the Solidarity movement, won support from the rural population, the unemployed and the local Catholic clergy. He is a strong believer in family values and maintaining the influence of the Catholic Church.

He has also won support from a part of the younger generation that says it is afraid of Poland losing its identity and values in the European Union, which Poland joined in May 2004.

Kaczynski has spoken about making a complete break from the Communist period by declaring a "fourth republic" and a "moral renewal" anchored on strong Christian values and a tinge of Euroskepticism.

On foreign policy, he favors defending Polish national interests with regard to Russia, even though Poland is dependent on Russia for its energy. He has also suggested reopening World War II compensation claims against Germany.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 24, 2005 8:49 AM

Hold the phone! Back when we kicked in the door of Communism and the whole rotten edifice was crashing down, the media were saying that the COMMUNISTS were "conservatives" and even, sometimes, "right-wingers."

So now somebody else the speaker doesn't like is a "right-winger." We must keep reminding ourselves that truth and logic mean literally less than nothing to those people.

We may also ponder how a rectification of names can take place. Just as calling deviance, "gay," has transformed the word "gay" to mean "deviant," so calling traditionalist, faith-oriented politics, "right-wing" should rehabilitate the word, as more and more people begin to say, is that is "right-wing," I am a right-winger.

Posted by: Lou Gots at October 24, 2005 9:18 AM

Morality is Rightwing.

Posted by: oj at October 24, 2005 9:27 AM

I didn't get it either, Lou. the conservative defeated the rightist.

up is down and down is up.

Posted by: Sandy P at October 24, 2005 10:13 AM

Although a coalition would be best to accomplish several goals, if Civic goes into the opposition, the end result may be a solid 2 party system with 2 decent parties that could alternate in power and clear out remaining vestiges of communists.

Posted by: Chris Durnell at October 24, 2005 11:46 AM

In a victory of semantics over rationality, the media have labeled fascism as rightwing or conservative or Republican making it difficult for the average person to know what the #$*%& they're talking about.

Posted by: tefta at October 24, 2005 12:31 PM