Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Sunday, October 21, 2007

You always forget Poland

During the 2004 elections, Kerry omitted Poland from the list of US coalition partners in Iraq, and Bush jumped on him for it. Why Poland? Well, aside from trying to pull on the hearstrings of Polish-American voters, the Kaczynski brothers who have led Poland for the past few years have been pro-American, and the "New Europe" that Rummy gabbled on about. Today, the Polish people tossed them out of office in favor of a pro-EU-oriented government who has promised to withdraw from Iraq altogether. Perhaps a German pope factors in as well. Or maybe pragmatic centrists like Sarkozy, Brown and Merkel seem more like partners in a new Europe in a way that testy Chirac, mercurial pro-US Blair, and the ineffectual lefty Schroeder did not. I'm curious what RBR thinks of the changes taking place in Europe at the moment. Continuing Polish economic progress must be a key to aligning more with "Old" Europe. Seven years ago, the Polish-German frontier was a place of economic contest, like the US-Mexican border. Today, that contest and wage/income disparities are not as sharp. The border of Europe is shifting east, to the Belarusian frontier.

I also wonder if the Poles are more sanguine about Russia. Putin is going to step down (sort of) and Russia has made no serious move to contest the extension of NATO or the EU to Eastern Europe. Russia is hardly a perfect neighbor, but if I were Poland I would trade a "special relationship" with the US for a better relationship with Russia and Germany any day of the week. The alliance with similarly-distant Britain worked out poorly in the 1930s, I seem to recall.


Raised By Republicans said...

Well, one of the twins is still in office. Lech (the calmer, saner of the two) is still President. It was Jaroslaw who lost re-election. Jaroslaw is the one who has admited to carrying a pistol with him when he went to parliament back when he was just an MP. He's also been accused of threatening to shoot an opposing MP in an elevator once - the incoming Prime Minister.

Some observations: First, no government has ever been re-elected in a democratic Poland. So it would be a mistake to assume that this election reflects any long term shifts in Polish opinion.

Second, the Law and Justice Party got just as many votes as they got in the last election. It was their coalition partners that lost the worst. So again, don't go writing Jaroslaw Kaczynski's political obituary just yet.

Third, from what I hear the main issue was that Law and Justice and their partners were too agressive in prosecuting former Communists and people they accused of corruption. They were also playing fast and loose with the freedom of the press apparently. BBC news says that people widely thought that Law and Justice was abusing the police power of the state to harass and spy on political opponents. So this all could be a reaction to a particular politician rather than a major sea change.

Finally, the new government will be headed by a classical liberal party called Civic Platform. They are pro-business and pro-EU. So on economic terms this is a shift from the extreme populist right to the more mainstream center-right.

We'll have to wait and see what happens.

The Law Talking Guy said...

What do you know about Tusk - the new guy?

Raised By Republicans said...

What do I know about Tusk? He probably won't get re-elected.

But seriously, all I know is that his name has been around for a while. I have to admit I don't follow Polish politics closely enough to get the personal details of politicians from the oposition. I do know that Tusk is the leader of a liberal party that is pro-business and pro-EU. That in itself is a big departure from the status quo in Poland where the current government is nationalist and populist.

However, Tusk's coalition partner is the Peasant Party that (if I recall correctly) has flirted with nationalist populism itself.

The biggest change will probably come in the toned down rhetoric and fewer overt attempts to antagonize neighboring countries for the sake of domestic audiences.