The blogger called Borsuk at http://www.nienawisc.pl (Polish only) wrote great (IMHO) post on recent issues between PiS (winner of 2015 election) and opposition parties in Poland. This was due to words of Jaroslaw Kaczynski (PiS leader, the most influencive person in Poland, however… officially handling no any role in government) said in Parliament. And – forgive me – the whole story is a bit complicated, incorporating some points from Polish language, history from 19th century till now, culture, etc. Therefore, instead of transcripting this great post into English, I asked myself – How the foreigner can understand – what the heck is going on with this Polish internal politics? The one simply does not get it… Until You read this post. Oh, and another 10 or twenty following.
To say it straight forward – Poland is just normal, regular European country. Social processes observed here, also in politics, are just the same as anywhere else. There is nothing special about Polish internal affairs, really. What You can observe for several (10-15) years now is continuing polarization. OK, it is a bit more dramatic (but is it real drama?) than in Germany or France, where actual 2 main political forces are visible, and the main battle is being fought between them. These are PiS and PO. Well, PiS + coalition of christian minor parties and PO + .Nowoczesna. All the other parties are just the background. This polarization is caused by several factors:
- People tend to vote for big parties due to they are more aggressive with narration, apart from regular one there is a story to not waste the vote for loosers
- People tend to vote for a potential winner, or at least taker, than for looser, affected by mentioned above narration
- Main parties are offering (in theory) wide programs for wide social groups – which are more or less populist, but always against main opposition force (negative marketing),
- Main parties are in possession of many tools (money, people, media, etc) supporting them with marketing
Of course – You will have followers of other forces – SLD/Razem (left wing), Kukiz’15 (right wing), PSL (focused on rural voters) and some other parties (so called conservatives under Janusz Korwin-Mikke, nationalists, party Zmiana – socialist, pro-Russian etc.). But they actually don’t matter. The only one that may be the game-changer is now Kukiz’15, but I would not count that it will happen in nearest future.
Left and right wing
It is quite difficult for me to identify left and right wings in Polish politics. It is believed that PiS, Kukiz’15 are right wing parties, PO, .Nowoczesna are center, liberal ones, while SLD, Razem are left wing. Seems simple, but…
- PiS is very social party – it is much more social than liberals and SLD. In some aspects they rebirth social ghosts form the past – trying to deploy social regulations similar to those prior to 1989. PiS also keeps program based on government and administration supremacy over citizens freedom. They believe that strong state is the one with strong institutions controlled by party. They are very, very close in that to communist parties. I would place them as national socialists.
- Kukiz’15 is less social, however still keeps social points in program. They do not believe in etatism so much, and they are the only party keeping in program need to rebuild constitution, administration, all the political system to be closer to regular citizens. But they are also closest to nationalists. If this wouldn’t be the case – they would have been quite fine center party.
- PO – although liberal is also somehow mixing conservative and left-wing ideas. On the one hand many of PO member are against LGBTQ requests to legalize gay marriages, on the other they would support medical marijuana. Some PO members are strongly supporting movement to loose abortion regulations, other are strongly against, staying on catholic ground. So it is rather about personal believes. Years 2007-20015 showed that PO is sharing etatist vision of PiS that hey believe that strong state is the one with strong institutions. Therefore I would place PO from left corner to right corner… depending on particular issue.
- .Nowoczesna is more liberal than PO, but it’s quite close one to another.
- SLD – post-commies, which would place them on the left, but taking from history of their governments it seems they are the most liberal as well.
- PSL – specific people’s party – focused on rural societies. very strong in the province, very etatist, rather keeping their people locally strong within administration. But as for the program – I assume it;s the most center party.
- Razem – they call themselves new socialists. However… there are some reminiscences from communists programs… I assume they would be closest to German Die Linke or Spanish Podemos. And it’s the only party that would have direct “siblings” across Europe.
However, as said before – only 2 movements count as leaders now. PiS and PO/.Nowoczesna. Therefore let’s take a look at what they offer in 2017.
2017 PiS Storyline is… roughly the same as 2, 3, 5, 7 years ago. It is amazing from technical (political marketing) point of view, and horrifying from social one. How come, that party taking in elections full house (President of Poland, majority in Parliament: >50% in Lower Council – Sejm, and >60% in upper council – Senat) is still using narration that “liberal forces do not allow them to run the government” plus (taking over all public media) “we have greatly unfair situation, where liberals are in control of mainstream communication channels”?
- PiS story-line is still about “the plot” – semi-mythical underground network of personal and financial connections between liberal and socialist politics (post-commies plus liberal part of former underground Solidarność). “The plot” is responsible for corruption, the plot is responsible for those who could not adopt to new reality after 1989, the plot is responsible for fact that Poland is not taken seriously by European Union and NATO partners, the plot is responsible for everything that was wrong. “The plot” – anonimized and filled in with parties and persons that are at the time targeted by PiS is universal narration for years now.
- Another point of PiS story-line is about traitors and murderers of Jaroslaw Kaczynski brother – President Lech Kaczynski in Smolensk on 10.04.2010. Of course – main responsibility is on Russia (accordingly to PiS narration at least inspiring the murder), but the local liberals (again – accordingly to PiS) got the most profits of that and at least helped to kill President, if not did it (almost in person by Donald Tusk).
- Last, but not least point in narration is patriotism, resistance against EU governance over local politics, resistance against Russian and German domination in Europe. It is followed by specific historical politics, glorifying all patriotic movements, even if they were questionable. All opponents of PiS are in this narration followers of communists, followers of murderers and traitors, selling Poland to its stronger neighbors (Germany and Russia), etc. Add to this national movements, antisemitism of neo-nationalist joined by fear of Muslim terrorists (and if it wouldn’t be so serious – that’s the kind of a joke, how Polish nationalists combined Jews – in their opinion enemies of Poland and Muslim terrorists) to set-up resistance against European policy for migrations (well, kind’a different story it is not too smart now, just as any EU policy these days).
OK, so how it looks from inside – Polish, but not PiS believer point of view? Well… 75% of this story-line is bullshit. In simple words. However, and I have to admit that – this is bullshit convenient for all: voters and followers of PiS, PiS itself, and opposition. Wait a minute… How come that it is CONVENIENT for opposition forces??? Of course – for PiS, and its followers, but opposition? Read the paragraph below, but first…
Looking at PiS story-line You need to know the following:
- Mythical “The plot” – well, yes – it is similar to other post-commies countries, similar to official, semi-official, and totally undercover plots in Italy, Greece, Spain, or even in US, Ireland, Canada and (less similar, but still) UK. This is due to relations between politicians, businessman, local elites (middle-class) etc. However – as PiS is stating that Polish plot is combination of liberals and post-commies You need to understand that:
- Former Jaroslaw Kaczynski and his closest followers party – PC (Porozumienie Centrum) was also taking part in this plot, participating in Round Table in 1989, taking part in privatization of PZPR (commies party till 1990) funds and other assets
- PiS members currently cover some ex-commies – members of PZPR, former attorneys, or even undercover agents of political police service
- Therefore PiS have got neither legal nor ethical mandate to use “the plot” as an argument. However… Who said politics need to be based on facts and ethical?
- Smolensk case is much more serious – of course it was great tragedy. In fact, apart from President Lech Kaczynski, his wife,there were 94 victims – PiS politicians, but also PO, SLD, PSL politicians, leaders and members of government agencies and NGOs, last Polish President of legal government on exile in UK – Raczkiewicz, pilots, BOR (Security Service for Polish Government) etc. The plot it was not an accident is rather false, but on the other hand both mistakes and gaps in PO explanation of this case, formal investigation in Russia and Poland feed conspiracy theories, which became quite convenient for PiS to call opposition leaders responsible for “killing the great President”. In fact Lech Kaczynski wasn’t as great as PiS see it, and wasn’t definitely as bad, as opposition states.
- Story about patriotic PiS against traitors’ opposition is false as well. It is just a narration. Of course PiS will post some irrelevant arguments. However majority of Polish will easily combine patriotism and being European. And as for neo-nationalism – I trust it should not be taken into consideration as valid point.
“Liberal” Opposition (PO, .Nowoczesna) story-line
2017’s story-line of liberal opposition shows they are completely lost. Not only they lost 2015’s election. They are COMPLETELY LOST. Their only story point is
- To get rid of PiS ruling Poland.
And preferably – to get rid of PiS at all. And actually it does not matter how. There is KOD (Committee for Defending Democracy), which seems to be citizens’ movement, but is widely supported by opposition parties, there are official parties structures and politicians – all saying the same – WE WILL GET RID OF PiS. And that’s the whole program of opposition. At any stage, any point, with any activity of PiS – the bottom-line of opposition is that everything will be fine, will get back to wanted shape if only voters will follow them, not PiS.
Oh, there is one more recently – “No symetrism”. It’s neologism – symetrism, accordingly to opposition politicians is argumentation that PiS is doing just the same things as other parties did prior to them. Then You will get the answer “Please, do not use symetrism. They are worse.”
1,5 year after lost election they have got no program, no idea how to attract voters, no vision of future Poland, no anything… apart from the same people that lost election. But “no symetrism, please”.
Well, point is that PiS is actually helping opposition to be such lousy one. Look above at PiS story-line. If you could compare PiS to anything else… the closest would be internet haters. Conspiracies, plots, traitors, conspiracies, plots, traitors, conspiracies, plots, traitors. I couldn’t imagine better opponent if I am lazy, have no idea what to say or what to do. If governing party are psychos (and this is bottom-line of opposition parties), you just need to put on the shoes of psychiatrist.
And this is exactly what the program of the opposing forces (PO/.Nowoczesna) is. To be psychiatrist. Or at least act like. Or just look like. Doesn’t matter.
To be continued…
This is just the beginning. Another post on Polish internal affairs will come soon. We will cover some milestones in Polish politics from 1989 onward.