[Marxism] Polish reactionaries oppose privatization--so what...
lnp3 at panix.com
Wed Jul 19 11:58:41 MDT 2006
(If any proof is needed that resistance to privatization does not exactly
go hand in hand with progressive politics, here's proof.)
NY Times, July 19, 2006
Poles Fear Political Twins Will Double Drift to the Right
By CRAIG S. SMITH
GDANSK, Poland, July 14 Lech Walesa, the hero of the Solidarity movement
and former president now adrift in this political backwater, sat back in
his office atop this citys historic Green Gate to reminisce about another
Lech who worked for him years ago.
His approach is to first destroy and then think about what to build, Mr.
Walesa said of the countrys current president, Lech Kaczynski, who served
as Mr. Walesas national security chief.
That sums up a growing consensus that has rippled across this still
fledgling democracy in the days since Mr. Kaczynski appointed his twin
brother, Jaroslaw, to the post of prime minister earlier this month. Many
Poles see the twins leadership as consolidating a shift toward right-wing,
nationalist politics that has polarized the country between older, less
educated rural voters who elected Mr. Kaczynski and the younger, educated
urban voters who largely oppose him.
Already, President Kaczynski had alienated Germany and strained relations
with the European Union. He has nearly stopped the governments
privatization program and has concentrated on a parliamentary commission to
reassess privatization and banking practices since the end of Communist
rule here 17 years ago. His current focus is lustration, the process of
exposing former Communist Party collaborators and rooting them from
positions of power.
They concentrate on the past, said Marek Ostrowski, an editor at the
Polish weekly magazine Polityka. The future seems to be not so important
A poll this month by the daily newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza found just 21
percent of people questioned saw Jaroslaw Kaczynskis appointment as a
The Kaczynski twins were born to a World War II resistance fighter and a
philologist 57 years ago and got an early taste of celebrity as child film
actors. They look so much alike that to tell them apart people look for a
mole that Lech Kaczynski has on his left cheek.
They say their hero is Jozef Pilsudski, the Polish field marshal who
resurrected the Polish state in 1918, but later, disillusioned with
partisan quarrels, seized power in a 1926 coup and ruled as dictator until
his death in 1935. The Polish press has made much of the inevitable
Many people see the appointment of President Kaczynskis brother as prime
minister as a step toward the so-called Fourth Republic that the twin
brothers have said they want to build. The Fourth Republic would purge
former Communists from the corridors of power and concentrate power in the
hands of the president.
They lack the two-thirds parliamentary majority required for the
constitutional changes that would make that dream a reality, but securing
the presidency and the prime ministers job comes close to the same thing.
Since Lech Kaczynski became president in December 2005, he has spent much
of his energy on consolidating control of Polands major state-owned
enterprises. Early this year, he sparked a public outcry with the
appointment of Jaromir Netzel, a Gdansk lawyer with no experience running a
large company, to head the countrys biggest insurer, PZU.
The ambitious electoral program that helped bring Mr. Kaczynski to power,
meanwhile, has been mostly forgotten. He promised to build three million
apartments in the next eight years, for example, but now says that is up to
Foreign relations stand to suffer the most from Mr. Kaczynskis tenure,
observers say. The president canceled two major foreign visits earlier this
month, one to Britain and the other a summit meeting with Chancellor Angela
Merkel of Germany and President Jacques Chirac of France, citing
unexplained health problems. Many Poles believe that the cancellations were
more likely a case of diplomatic flu.
The cancellation of the three-way summit meeting came after a German
newspaper lampooned the twins as the new Polish potatoes and said that
the only thing Lech Kaczynski knew about Germany was the spittoon in the
mens toilet at Frankfurt Airport. He has demanded an apology from the
Relations with the European Union, meanwhile, have been strained over
Polands resistance to cross-border takeovers of its big companies.
Many people are wondering if the twins had a hand in the sudden downfall of
Zyta Gilowska, deputy prime minister and finance minister, who resigned
last month after a new public prosecutor started an investigation into her
possible links with the Communists secret police. The investigation was
stopped as soon as Ms. Gilowska resigned. It is unclear on what evidence
the investigation was started, but many Poles see the case as an example of
how lustration can be abused.
I didnt like their constant conspiracy theories, always suspecting
people, always involved in intrigues, said Mr. Walesa, his signature
mustache now snowy white. He fired both brothers Jaroslaw Kaczynski was a
senior adviser in 1993.
Despite the concerns about their policies, Mr. Walesa said that the
brothers would not have time to do much damage because a free press and
nongovernmental organizations would keep them in check until new elections
in less than four years.
Democracy is working, Mr. Walesa said. If they threaten that, they will
be taught a lesson.
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