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Thursday, 27 October 2011 21:05

Polish elections part I

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Poland has just elected its new parliament. There are three things that should be noticed. Firstly, the governing party 'Civic Platform' won its second parliamentary election in row. This has not been achieved by any party in the short history of post-communist Poland and so is worthy of note. The new government should be formed by the same parties i.e. the Civic Platform (39%) and Polish People’s Party (8%). Secondly, the relatively bad result of the Democratic Left Alliance which received only 8% of the votes despite being predicted about 12-15% and were tipped to become an essential part of the new governing coalition. Thirdly, the seemingly stable 4-party political configuration has been ruined by Palikot’s Support Movement, a populist party that got 10% of votes and came third overall. Law and Justice (30%) remained the main opposition party.

It is true that the election turnout was rather low. Only about 49% of voters decided to take part in the election. Nevertheless, such a low result is typical for Polish parliamentary elections. Once again Poles proved the social scientists’ theory that they turn out for civil duties more eagerly during the presidential and local elections. But then the election campaign was irritating. It seemed that the candidates were more interested in testing the voter's resistance to ascetics or challenging their intellectual abilities than encouraging them to vote the 'right' way. Let me give you a small image of the Polish campaign. Don’t worry if you cannot speak Polish – you’ll get the same amount of priceless information as any other Polish voter! So here you have a young Polish leftist’s campaign clip or its political friend’s one, soft pornography! But there were also some really touching moments were available, some thrillers and something for family cinema’s fans, too.

But you do not have to be a prophet to guess that the politics in Poland isn’t all about making terrible films. There are certain issues that which should be discussed. Moreover some of them, if not the majority – are related with the EU.
More about these issues later this week, only in Under Eastern Eyes!

Saturday, 08 October 2011 17:54

It's not an alibi

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I just got back from the Eastern Partnership (EaP) summit, held in Warsaw, 29-30 September. Even though a few months ago I made some critical points on the project's realisation, my first impression of the gathering is really positive, especially when it comes to the conference that proceeded the actual high profile political meetings and decisions.

"The Eastern Partnership conference: towards a European community of democracy, prosperity and a stronger civil society" was the topic of the all-day discussions organised by the Polish Institute of International Affairs, The Centre of Eastern Studies and The EaP Civil Society Forum (CSF). The combination of conferences and workshops attended by politicians, civil activists, independent political analysts, as well as strategists either from the EU and EaP countries, is a traditional component of EaP summits (a similar debate took place in the Czech Republic, a day before the Prague Declaration that launched the EaP project in 2009).

Saturday, 23 July 2011 18:16

The key is Pospolite Ruszenie

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I’m not sure whether the phrase “pospolite ruszenie” could be translated into any foreign language (though it’s difficult to explain it even in modern Polish, too). “Mass movement”, “mass uprising” of course are close but still without the connotations of the Polish – Lithuanian Commonwealth - the old Rzeczpospolita’s political culture - the term cannot be clearly understood, I suppose.

Anyway, as the esteemed Romans used to say, pleating their togas’ folds “exempla trahunt” – examples educate. In the second half of June, two young Polish artists L.U.C and Sokół began the first official Pospolite Ruszenie in Poland since the fall of the old Rzeczpospolita. Its aim is to defeat the ugliness of post-communist public space i.e. the gloomy, socialist realist housing estates and kitsch motley tower blocks and then regain that space from post-soviet indifference and passivity.

As I tried to point out in my previous post, the Eastern attitude to the Libyan Intervention was rather tepid. The East preferred to stay with generous EU budget contributor Germany and did not succumb to the Franco-British persuasion of "the necessary, legal and right intervention". The Polish prime minister stated "Not all of the arguments were convincing", underlining the ambiguity associated with the fact that the Franco-British coalition (or Western Europe in general) caught sight of Gaddafi's specific approach to human rights only when the Arab Spring started to flourish in the oil-bearing territories.

Conversely to the Libyan case in which the Eastern choice was rather simple, if not comfortable,  reminiscent of a cozy German milieu, the implementation of the new European Stability Mechanism and especially the Euro Plus Pact disturbed this almost idyllic image.

First of all, let's sum up some basic facts. The Euro Plus Pact aka the 'Euro Pact' aka  'Competitiveness Pact' is the Franco-German, ad hoc target coalition initiative to rescue the euro from the economic crisis or as some claim, the original sin of extending "a common market and currency without a common government".

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