Double Light of the Polish Parliamentary Elections Results

By Antony Gotfree

Past Parliamentary elections were in the focus not only in Poland itself, their course and results were actively commented on by politicians and experts of several countries.

Election turnout comprised 48,9%. The index is even a bit higher than typical average European.

It seems that the most engaged people were happy about the political results of the elections. “The results of the elections are the sign of political stability and predictability in Poland. The sign of that citizens will to observe their country strong and to proceed with the EU integration”, - concluded the President of the country B. Komorowski.

Financial markets also are happy with the victory of D. Tusk which promises another four years of relative political and economic stability in the biggest country of Eastern Europe on the background of aggravating debt Eurozone crisis. The rate of gold to Euro has recently grown for 0.7% when other currencies of the region lost about 1%.

> Map Of Poland
It’s worth to remind that Poland is the only country of the European Union which in fact has avoided recession. Thanks to capacious domestic market and big goods turnover inside the state it has managed to go through the first wave of global crisis with minimal losses.

And still looking more detailed the results of the Parliamentary elections in Poland incite dual feelings. On the one hand, according to the estimation of most analysts, nothing unexpected happened and political map, that established after the drama by Smolensk was in fact confirmed. And this demonstrates that most Poles accept the existing balance.

On the other hand, the elections have outlined a number of pretty new moments, and their results to some extent turned out to be pretty unexpected.

The first thing that appeared in the focus of many commentators is promising – Polish democratic procedures work, and the elections pretty clearly illustrate real views of public. Views that prone to greater conservatism and comprise more traditional and typical philistine values. The situation strongly reminds the one that is typical for a number of states, so-called “old European” 10 years ago.

Besides, the fact that “Civic Platform” (Platforma Obywatelska – is a pretty symbolic semantics of Polish name) shall be able to shape its government and most likely with the staff of the old coalition with “Polish People’s Party” – the case is quite extraordinary for post-communist Poland, as for last twenty years the government in power hasn’t at least once assured victory of its party at regular elections.

The success of “Civic Platform” to the mind of some observers is also unexpected as almost all polls and forecasts gave it the reason to hope for breakaway from the competitor only for 2-3%, but not for 10%.

Victorious “Civic Platform” naturally is not perfect. In the fundament of its staff there are pretty pragmatic and successful politicians. They respect democracy and European values, people and their right to have various views and make their life to their own mind. The “Platform” for last four years hasn’t been oriented to reforms and held few of them, however it has assured peace and stability, hasn’t allowed scandalous fights inside governmental coalition, and has got the country though global crisis pretty successfully, having improved cooperation with other states and first of all with Russia. And this is much.

The results of elections is the evident success of the ruling party, its victory, although by this the result can’t be named as full defeat of the opposition. “Right and Justice” gathered the number expected which is only a bit less than at previous elections.

Anticipating not the best result, J. Kaczynski this time tried to gain the image of respectful and moderate politician. Only once getting to “political bawl” threatening once again Poles with Germany, the Chancellor A. Merkel and blaming the government of D. Tusk in that it “assures German interests in Europe”.

Partly some failure of “Truth and Justice” can be explained also with that in one and half year after the tragedy by Smolensk, citizens have got tired of “hysterical and intrusive right-wing conservatism” of the party of J. Kaczynski.

The result of the “Right and Justice” demonstrates that it has its electorate but most Poles has no enthusiasm towards international line and pretty peculiar “European policy” of J. Kaczynski  sometimes making not that good image of Poles.

The defeatists, probably, can be called the initiators of dissenting from “Polish People’s Party” of the group “Poland is the Most Important” turned out to be not that appropriate. Voters haven’t got used to half-tones.

But the most important suddenness of these elections was naturally the result of “Palikot’s Movement” which was the third.

Although this success is pretty explicable. Traditional Polish policy is the policy of conservators of various overtones. “Civic Platform” in its essence is a classic liberal-conservative party, and the “Right and Justice” is a national-conservative right-wing party. Left-wing political forces although they presented in big policy, however for the last decade they gradually and steadily have reduced this presence, reduced their influence. Which in fact wasn’t observed within Polish political horizon is the popular purely liberal political movement. Existence of this empty niche was noted by many sociologists. By this the main group sympathizing pure liberals according to polls is youth. So that theunexpectedness to some extent was expected.

In fact the “casus of Palikot” means a peculiar breakthrough of the new generation the views of which are different than the views of generations shaped as personalities in 70-80-s and even in 60-s of ХХth century.

Sociologists cite data that among graduates of Polish schools now only 3% consider themselves “practicing Catholics”. The statement that is able really to shatter traditions of Polish society. The analysts also note the absence among youth of sensitivity towards traditional historic Polish insults and claims. Although it’s not a fact that the tradition shall not promote a bit later in a grown-up new generation.

Current Polish elections, the course of electoral campaign once again have demonstrated the domination of two political discourses.

On the one hand this social-economic and international policy of Poland within the frameworks of Euro-Atlantic institutions and outside them, on the other - the issues of history, the problem of the so-called “historic Polishness”.

It happened so that for the Poles the second, more philosophic discourse, Polish passionarity, regional leadership have been always observed as more important, fundamental, dominating in policy. And current “breakthrough of Palikot” is the fact falling out of this tradition, demonstrating not even protest, but already pretty high level of social-political development of new common “European” thought in Poland. And youth is its carrier. As one of papers wrote, calls to withdraw from school programs studies of the Holy Bible and to establish free distribution of condoms are more important and attractive, than the ideas of civilization mission in East. Curiously enough, but the speed of legalization of light drugs is more topical for them than the issue of guilt of Russia for Katyn’ ”.

J.Palikot is a fronding politician who advocates maximal freedom in all spheres and is against political powers of the state, struggles for the rights of all minorities from sexual to marginal-political. He is also a devoted anticlerical, who opposes himself to conservative course of civil life. Unbelievable 10% of votes gained by the “Palikot’s Movement” are the 10% of new Poland.

Another unexpected result of these elections is a too small percentage of left-wings. Even being headed by young and active G. Napieralski who was the third during the Presidential elections this summer, the “Union of Democratic Left Forces” appeared to be the fifth. The party which 10 years ago had a support percentage exceeding the one that has “Civic Platform” now shall enter the new Parliament with a bit more than 8%. Socialists stop playing a sound role in Polish policy. Their moderation in the beginning of 2000, the period of final phase of Polish transformation is almost not demanded today.

This also happens because strong social policy, ideals of social statehood are now being advocated in Poland by almost everybody. Exactly pro-left-wing social-economic platform was of “Right and Justice”. The existing social system is protected also by “Civil Platform” and its ally agrarian “Polish People’s Party”. Also the “Palikot’s Movement” defines itself as social-liberal. Moreover many commentators consider that J.Palikot has gained votes of the left-wing ones. A part of Polish society was ready to vote for the left-wing ones only because they were the only non-conservative big political party. Now new alternative has occurred, more striking, more impudent in political sense of the word.

Polish elections were also of interest in Europe. And their results have evidently pleased Brussels bureaucracy, as well as main European players and first of all Germany.

Minister of Foreign Affairs of Germany G. Westerwelle welcomed the result of the Parliamentary elections in Poland: “Judging by the result we can say that Poland has made a decision to the benefit of Europe, and this is a good news for us, German neighbors”, - said Westerwelle on October 10th, in Luxembourg at the backstage of the meeting of the Heads of diplomatic units of the European Union states.

And the press-secretary of German Ministry of Foreign Affairs noted that the result of the Parliamentary elections in Poland proves the “collapse of attempts to fire up anti-German spirit in course of pre-election campaign”. He called the decision of Polish voters an impetus for the development of German-Polish relations and friendship with Poland. And added, that Minister G. Westerwelle intends also further to stake on “close coordination of efforts and cooperation” with Poland and already in the days to come plans to visit this country.

Berlin especially thoroughly observed the passage of J. Kaczynski, who is famous with his shameless and rigid anti-German rhetoric.

And in his new book “The Poland of Our Dream” J. Kaczynski states that A. Merkel “represents the generation of politicians, who strive to revive the German Empire” and that “strategic axis of Berlin with Moscow is a part of this strategy and Poland can only impede the accomplishment of this task”. J. Kaczynski has constantly blamed A. Merkel of the attempt to bring Poland to heel and claimed that the coming of current Chancellor to power was “arranged by the people of Stasi”.

However, realizing that this is an obvious exaggeration during electoral campaign he didn’t speak that enthusiastically on this issue during the interview for Newsweek but still he said that A. Merkel “understands what I’m saying”.

All these hints and comments with pleasure were captured by Polish Mass Media, which were in the regime of constant readiness to promote the assaults. But untypical diffidence of J. Kaczynski as then Polish newspaper wrote, played a bad joke with him. First he wasn’t prone to react on the issues occurring, but then he started to accuse Germany of the wish to capture a part of Polish lands, and then rudely called “German” the Polish reporter. As a result, few days before elections, as an observer of the weekly Newsweek M. Kacievicz wrote, the rating of J. Kaczynski reduced for 10%.

Maybe this is an exaggeration but it is pretty obvious that the kind of intentions of J. Kaczynski in fact don’t incite enthusiasm among Polish voters.

Lithuania observed Polish elections with special attention. Lithuanian experts were guessing how shall develop the relations of the two states after the elections as in recent several years the relations of Warsaw and Vilnius has started gaining pretty acute character.

The reason for escalation to the mind of Poles is the unwillingness of Lithuanian authorities to accomplish the provisions of the European Framework Convention of National Minorities Protection ratified in Lithuania. But local laws as Vilnius states are dominating. And they are not at all favorable for national minorities. The names of streets in the districts of compact habitation of Poles in Vilnius,Šalčininkai, etc, are forbidden in Polish language as well as other public signs. Local Polish activists are constantly fined for that. For example for the plates on buses with the names of towns in Polish language. Last names of Poles in passports are also forbidden in native language. And the main indignation was incited by the new law on education, which in reality turns the schools of national minorities into Lithuanian.

It has lead to that the speaker of Lithuanian Parliament I. Degitenne and the President D. Grybauskaite started talking that Polish politicians of Lithuania heat national discords. But these accusations haven’t been legally registered, but there is an article in the Crime Code for this, and this spring they even had an investigation related to the calls of the Leader of Lithuanian Poles V. Tomaszewski.

And I. Degitenne has unexpectedly revealed connection between the protests of Lithuanian Poles and the Kremlin. Wright-wing politicians were also anxious about that in spring during the elections to Vilnius municipal council two parties of national minorities united their efforts – Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania and Russian Alliance.

In their turn Polish politicians repeatedly allowed themselves harsh comments towards Lithuania. Especially the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Poland R. Sikorski.

The situation is really not simple and shall hardly be solved soon. Although there are other views. As if all painful rhetoric and accusations are connected only with the pre-electoral struggle in Poland. So the elections have passed, D. Tusk has won and now rigid rhetoric of Polish politicians shall soften greatly.

However, most experts think that to a greater extent there shall be no sufficient changes within relations of Lithuania and Poland, but escalations are pretty possible.

The conflict between Lithuania and Poland is deeply routed. The two states lived long as one state – Rzeczpospolita. They are connected with the history full of drama turns and passions. The Poles of Vilnius appeared in Lithuania in the process of complicated historic changes, but yet in times of Marshall J. Pilsudski in 1920 Poland still considered this territory as its property till Stalin in 1939 returned it to Lithuania in accordance with the agreements in the frameworks of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. Now Lithuania considers the capture of Vilnius by general L Zeligowski inspired by J. Pilsudski as occupation, and local Poles with respect come to the grave of the mother of the Marshall in Vilnius where his heart also rests in peace.

In general, there is nothing surprising about Polish-Lithuanian discord: history in combination with painful complex of impeccability of national identity strongly holds current politicians as hostages.

Analysts noted that pre-electoral campaign in Poland this time didn’t comprise already traditional Anti-Russian rhetoric. In general currently established relations between Poland and Russia are characterized by some observers as “silent stability”. Past pre-electoral political discussion didn’t affect the relations between Moscow and Warsaw, as on the one hand there are no symptoms for further approach, but on the other hand no prerequisites for separation.

And now considering the results of the elections, everybody prone to that the relations of this European state with Russia shall preserve the status-quo.

Polish foreign policy shall most likely be maintained by R. Sikorski and shall be oriented as earlier on enhancement of Poland in the EU and strategic partnership with the USA.

In general, as for Russian plot, than the main result can be acknowledged the following: most Poles don’t desire the policy of revenge and rivalry. And this is an important sign: the policy of normalization, adopted by the government of D. Tusk shall be maintained further.

“Poland and Russia deserve to be friends. Our great peoples can live together in friendship and should be based on the truth, wise memory and the ability to move forward”. These words were sounded by the Polish Prime Minister on October 7th the last day of pre-electoral parliamentary campaign.

Thus Moscow can be happy with the results of the elections in Poland.

However Russian commentatorsare full of doubts. In that mentioned address of D. Tusk they focus on another part. Indeed, of October 7th D. Tusk proved: “If I have an option to be in the office for the following four years, I shall work to improve as much as possible the relations between Russia and Poland”. But by this he added: “Considering however all problems, created by our history and some actions. Not everything goes well”, – he acknowledged, especially having noted that there can be no memory reset in Poland: “We in Poland shall not reset our memory any more”.

Afflicting moment for Russian politicians and experts, is the intention to transfer some problems into the sphere of judicial relations.

So that on October 6th the European Court on Human Rights in Strasbourg held hearings of the claim of the relatives of 12 Polish officers, murdered in Katyn’. And although private persons applied, and not Poland as a country, official Warsaw provides them overwhelming support.

The case is still not in that how they shall judge Russia – with the support of Polish authorities or without. The main thing is that it shall be judged. And this, according to Russia, is a new bomb for future relations.

The sum of only financial part of these claims can be pretty compared with the claims of Lithuania and Latvia for compensation of “Soviet occupation”.