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piątek, września 23, 2005

Jaded For Free: Kaczyñski for Polish Neocons?

Jaded For Free: Kaczyñski for Polish Neocons?

Jaded for free
By Jordan Seidel

For the past 2-3 weeks we have run a Poll asking our PolBloggers "If a presidential election were held today, would you vote for Lech Kaczyñski?" A decisive majority of participants (over 60%) indicated that they would not vote for Kaczyñski, while 16% voted 'yes.' Interestingly, another 21% indicated that they would not vote for Kaczyñski but he "does have some good ideas." Based on my private conversations with people on this issue, which is rather pressing since this is an election year in Poland, the result was predictable. Living in Warsaw, and unable to speak with most Poles (language barrier), I can say that most of the Poles I do speak with (in English) are fairly liberal-leaning. Most of them were disgusted by Mayor Kaczyñski's banning of the Gay Pride Parade 2 months ago -- in defiance, it took place anyway (even though none of these liberal folks actually attended the parade themselves). I read a recent interview [subscription link, sorry] with the Major and he didn't sound half bad. He is against a flat tax, he wants a stronger Poland when it comes to Russia, he rejects the EU Constitution as currently written (so did France and Netherlands), he supports a more independent Poland within the EU integration plan, and he says he will stop corruption (which every Pole I meet complains about). So, why all the *extra-long faces?

21% say he has some good ideas

I have no idea. I don't have the added input of reading how the local press presents Mayor Kaczyñski, but my impression is that in their heart of hearts most Poles would vote for him. These liberal Poles are actually quite the closet neo-cons -- they aren't so very liberal to the end, afterall, how many sincerely support a legal abortion law? How many of them can actually point to a family member who listens to Radio Maria? Or reflexively think that Pope John Paul II is beyond reproach (-- from non-Poles)? Accuracy aside, I think many of them would share Kaczyñski's pragmatism when it comes to integrating into the EU -- and at the very least most are highly ambivalent.

I was discussing this issue awhile ago with a young Polish man who works at a gonzo multi-national bank here. His supposedly killer 'argument' against the Mayor was summed up in two words - 'homosexualists parade.' I suggested that if the Mayor would simply fix the walk-over bridge (which is hideous) in my neck of the Warsaw woods, near Promenada, I would enthusiasitically vote for him. "But what about his mentality?" bickered the young Pole. Just then I imagined a gay Pole and a straight Pole walking past each other as they were crossing the newly renovated Promenada bridge. This practical and shared concern unites people across divides. It seems that many of these younger, closet neo-cons have retained their grand-parent's social policy genes, and their parent's patriotism. That is, they don't necessarily despise government as an actor in pubic life, and most don't want to live permanently abroad (though many want to work or travel abroad). But they also picked up something new -- they are the ones who scoff at McDonalds. What really counts to Poles is what people do for you, and not what they say they will do for you. Everything that Mayor Kaczyñski says he will do is consistent with what Poles would like to see happen. So, why, in their public hearts do they contradict themselves? We have an idiom in English "Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater." Are Poles voting for the baby or the bathwater?

*I say 'extra'-long because most of the time the faces are already long - Foreigner observation.
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At 24.9.05, Blogger Gustav said...

Man, you've got a good blog here, but serious loading problems. It's taking a while and blog ads are blinking at me. It also takes a while for the text to pop up. I think if you fiddle with your template a bit you should figure it out.

Anyway, I look forward to more of your Poland news and views.

At 11.10.05, Blogger beatroot said...

Yeah, I told JS about the loading problems yesterday...today, they seem better.

Just one word about the 'liberal' Poles who seem to be like neo-cons. I know what you mean, but when opinion pollsters ask "Would you support a liberalization of the abortion law', it comes out at about 50-50. Maybe Poles are all catholics, but they are belongers, not necessarily believers.



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