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...a sweatshop of moxie

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Stealing The Moon - Polish Elections

(Welcome Tim Worstall readers! Oh, that Tim -- always the gimlet eye for a quirky informative yarn)

With 1 in 5 Poles currently jobless, a whopping 18%, Poland has the largest unemployment rate of all EU countries.

It is believed Sunday's parliamentary elections may determine the mood swing of a nation on a downslide of voter turnout.

Ever since the famous 1989 elections, which more than any Berlin Wall, marked the beginning of the end of Communism in Eastern Europe, voter turnout in Europe's most Catholic country has been decreasing.

Due to the lacklustre quality of the parties which seem to rise and fall, often depending on the presence of a charismatic leader (or not), the original euphoria of voting for whomever you wanted to without Kommissars breathing down your neck, Poles have found what many democratic countries find, when freedom goes from precious to normal:


It's not that there aren't issues abounding in Poland, which would require immediate seeing-to, politically.

But to illustrate the boredom, take one example below.

In almost every other country, the issue of Polish involvement in Iraq, and generally, their participation in the war on terror, would be a fierce rallying cry to the opponents of current ex-Communist Party members, the ruling Democratic Left Alliance.

(And as you can see, just the fact that ex-Communists are in the pro-USA camp shows a very interesting dynamic to this country's political structure)

But the opposition parties have expressed full support for continued involvement, and it's simply a non-issue in this election.

Can you name me one country in the EU where a pro-Iraq stance by its government would not be a factor, not to say, a key factor in its parliamentary elections?

The Netherlands is perhaps the only country which comes close, and even then, it's an issue.

But no. Not in Poland where more pressing matters are in the offing. They are:

  • - A series of corruption scandals plaguing members of the ruling DLA party

  • - The already mentioned umemployment numbers

  • - A bankrupt and near-death socialised health care system

  • I have often noticed that these are not get-out-the-vote types of issues in many countries.

    Quite the contrary, a pessimism seems to throw a pall over an electorate, as these issues point to systemic problems, which in their minds elections cannot immediately change -- and that's what they want.

    One is about lack of responsible leadership, the other lack of prospects, and the third, the most systemic problem of all, a barely functioning health care system which they cannot pay for.

    In fact, these are circular problems, and the Poles know that.

    Nevertheless, there are men and women who feel they can attack the problems, given the chance of being elected.

    And this brings us to the Brothers Kaczynski.

    What were you to say if I told you these two men have 3 things which makes them quite unusual:

    One, (Jaroslaw) is running for Prime Minister today Sunday. The other, Lech, is running for President in a separate election on 9 October.

    Take that Bill and Hill!

    Want more?

    They're twins.

    Not just any ole twins, either -- identical twins.

    So identical, they used to take tests for each other at school (Lech was the one who was good at languages, Jaroslaw at maths), and moreover, it is thought they have been using the same photograph for each others' campaigns!

    This is due to the fact that Lech, current Mayor of Warsaw, has a slight mole near the bridge of his nose, but it's been airbrushed out, presumably cutting campaign Kinko costs.

    Seeing is believing, so here they are.

    This is Lech.

    And this is Jaroslaw.

    Oh my. I foresee many problems if this duo is elected.

    For one, how would you know who is really who? Maybe you asked for Lech, but Jaro shows up.

    No, no. If elected, theye're going to make the Saddam-a-likes phenomenon look like choppped liver.

    But wait!...as Ron Popeil says. There's more.

    The third reason these two men are not your run-of-the-mill twin politico set, is that long before they felt the lure of politics, they were VERY famous in Poland as child actors.

    Yes, at the age of 12, they starred in the Polish children's movie, Those Two Who Would Steal the Moon.

    I can only think of Shirley Temple as an ex-child movie star having anything to do with politics, so that's something.

    Obviously, I had to IMDB them. Well, one does.

    And sure enough, the movie with its original Polish title, O Dwóch Takich, Co Ukradli Ksiezyc, was there.

    The synopsis of the story is, you'll agree, rather ominous given today's import:

    Twin brothers, Jacek and Placek, are the town's troublemakers. They're lazy, greedy and also cruel. They despise hard work, so they cook up a plan to make easy money that would make them rich for the rest of their lives.

    Bedtime for Bonzo it ain't.

    See, the IMDB voters agree with me, and gave it 4.3 stars out of 10. That's Gigli numbers.

    (As a complete aside, who should I happen to see below the twins' names, but Ted Kaczynski the Unabomber? Huh. Didn't know he too was bitten by the greasepaint bug. Although I'm fairly certain he's not running for anything, except perhaps from the Club Fed showers)

    Like last week's election, I don't suppose MSM will cover this story in depth.

    First of all, Poland has even less resonance with the media elite than does Germany.

    Second of all, if the Kaczynski Brothers' Law & Justice Party and the Citizens' Platform Party both do well, that'll mean a Conservative coalition government, and yet another blow for the Axis of Weasels, who just can't seem to make their side win elections these days.

    And third of all, there's just no way MSM can end a piece like I'm about to, with a straight face.

    Poland has many difficult decisions ahead of her in today's voting which launched at 11 PM EDT Saturday, locally a brisk 6 AM start for them.

    Since there are 30 million people eligible to vote out of a total population of 38 million, that's helluva lot Poles going to the polls.

    UPDATE: As I was writing this, the BBC World Report came on with an update. Seems the Law & Justice Party is doing better than expected in exit polls, as the reporter said in rather dispirited, I miss Bush-Bashing Katrina tones. I'll update the story throughout the day, in case of news. Meanwhile, here's a Polish Elections primer.

    RESULTS UPDATE: Well, President Aleksander Kwasniewsk's governing Democratic Left Alliance Party looks set to be ousted, as predicted by everyone. The breakdown as reported on the newswires is as follows:

    The Kaczynski Brothers' Law & Justice Party:

    28% of the vote

    Coalition partner, Civic Platform Party:

    25% of the vote.

    The formerly Communist Democratic Left Alliance:

    11% of the vote.

    The sticky wicket in this is that Lech Kaczynski, the more outspoken of the two plain-talking twins, has said that if both he and his brother, Jaroslaw, win their respective elections, that one or the other will decline to accept the helm. We'll see if they backtrack or keep their election promise.


    • Victoria,

      I LOVED your comments on Ann's site concerning social medicine. I work for a nursing home company with both operations in the US and Canada. I have been to Canada and would hardly compare the "care" they get in the U.S. to the lack of "care" they receive in our Canadian facilities.

      Isn't it very telling that so many doctors emigrate to the U.S. from Canada and all around the world to work here, instead?

      My doctor a few years back was from Australia and I have had many foreign born doctors from Country's with social medicine treat me here in the U.S. over the years.

      By Blogger Eddie, at Mon Sep 26, 11:31:00 am GMT-4  

    • Just dropped in to say this: Have a good day.

      By Blogger Shirazi, at Tue Sep 27, 12:53:00 am GMT-4  

    • I LOVED your comments on Ann's site concerning social medicine.

      Aww, thanks Eddie. :)

      I love being on Althouse too, becaue it brings out the lioness in me. (roar)

      Isn't it very telling that so many doctors emigrate to the U.S. from Canada and all around the world to work here, instead?

      My doctor a few years back was from Australia and I have had many foreign born doctors from Country's with social medicine treat me here in the U.S. over the years.

      Eddie, you're talking to the daughter of TWO European doctors, who emigrated jointly in the 80's to the US.

      Before that we lived in Canada, which my mother found intolerable to live in (I think because of the snow, and not their NHS though).

      I can't tell you much about the Canadian NHS (although Renato can), but I'd definitely say the lack of comparative resources for medical doctors was a defining factor my parents left the UK when they did.

      And though my father can be grumbly about the US, he has often told me, he's never looked back professionally.

      'Nuff said. ;)


      By Blogger vbspurs, at Tue Sep 27, 09:15:00 am GMT-4  

    • Just dropped in to say this: Have a good day.

      How sweet! I think...

      Oh what the hay, let me stop being so cynical -- Have a Good Day, too, Shirazi. :)


      By Blogger vbspurs, at Tue Sep 27, 09:17:00 am GMT-4  

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