Polish Presidential Election 2010

Being a lightweight when it comes to knowledge of Poland’s political landscape, I’m grateful to Wikipedia, Polskie Radio and others covering this election.

Only 14 days left before voting day and this election is going to be interesting. Originally planned for the autumn it was brought forward by the sudden death of President Lech Kaczyński in Smolensk and voting will now take place on 20th June. Aside from the usual interest generated by any Presidential race this one has the added spice of whether the people will want to prolong the Kaczyński dynasty by electing Lech’s brother Jarosław or will decide that enough is enough.

Kaczynski

I was going to add that there’s also the question of whether Smolensk will enter the debate and the pulling of heart-strings used as a voting tactic but the question is answered by Jarosław’s comments when announcing he will be standing for election:

“We need to complete the mission of victims of the catastrophe near Smolensk. We owe it to them, we owe it to our motherland (…) It is out duty to fulfill their will,”

“It is important to overcome personal grief and take up the task in spite of personal tragedy. That is why I decided to run for presidency and my family supports me.”

Twenty three candidates (all men – booo!) registered themselves as candidates. Of those, only 17 were able to gather the required 1,000 votes to be accepted by the election commission. Poor show by the six, I think Jamie could have gathered a thousand signatures, in fact I think he did.

Each of the 17 candidates then had to gather 100,000 signatures by May 6th to progress to the final stage of contest. This sorted out the men out from the boys. As Jamie’s campaign manager I instigated a cunning plan to get Jamie over the line. We targeted a single Polish town with enough inhabitants and bombarded it with “Vote for Jamie!” – we chose Legnica (pop 104,393) as it’s not too far from Kraków and campaigning didn’t disturb Jamie’s sleep pattern too much. We hit the town with a tantalising pakiet of incentives;

  1. Change the name of city back to Liegnitz, declare German as the official language and build “Liegnitz Land” an adventure park celebrating 200+ years of German history, each resident to have a share in the profits.
  2. Free daily bus transport for all residents to either Dresden, Chemnitz or Prague.
  3. 50 pln per signature.

This worked well enough to get Jamie into the final round where he will be facing the 10 other candidates that were able to gather their own 100,000 signatures. To help you get prepared for the big day and figure out where you’ll be placing your vote, we present a largely useless review of the runners and riders (party representing & number of signatures collected in brackets):

  • Jamie “Island1” Stokes (Polandian Party – 104,393) – clean shaven. Campaigns tirelessly on equal rights for hedgehogs. Avid beer drinker.
  • Marek Jurek (Prawica RP – 180,000) – clean shaven. Leader of a party with no MPs that he set up because the Sejm didn’t vote to outlaw abortion. Other important policies include banning porn, longer maternity leave and preserving Sundays and other religious holidays. Almost certainly Catholic.
  • Jarosław Kaczyński (PiS – 1,650,000) –  clean shaven. Twin brother of deceased President Lech Kaczyński. Lived with his mother and now with his cat. Was Prime Minister of an extremely silly coalition government that somehow managed to last just over a year. Many people left the country when he became Prime Minister, how many will leave if he becomes President?
  • Bronisław Komorowski (PO – 770,000) – has a nice moustache and looks like he should be your uncle. Current acting President of Poland. Met his wife when they were both scouts. Son of Count Zygmunt Leon Komorowski and has enough of an aristocratic background to have been on the wrong end of a guillotine in the French revolution.
  • Janusz Korwin-Mikke (UPR – 138,000) – has a moustache and not much hair. National bridge champion, skilled chess player, eater of tax returns and member of Conservative-Monarchist Club.
  • Andrzej Lepper (Samoobrona – 122,000) – clean shaven. Nationalist, former farmer. Charged with several criminal offences and involved in almost every scandal that exists. Has nice red and white striped ties. Had the chance of a lifetime to become a serious player and blew it big time but won’t let any of that stop him trying.
  • Kornel Morawiecki (110,000) – used to have a nice moustache and beard. Doctor of theoretical physics. Represents the more rebellious side of Solidarity. Has previously failed to collect 100,000 signatures but obviously learnt his lesson and did things differently this time around.
  • Grzegorz Napieralski (SLD – 380,000) – clean shaven. Youngest candidate (36). Spent most of his time in Szczecin, which is a bit of a handicap.
  • Andrzej Olechowski (233,000) – an old chestnut with a fine moustache. Probably had his best shot in 2000 when beaten by Kwaśniewski. I always think of him as a bit of a Michael “Tarzan” Heseltine character.
  • Waldemar Pawlak (PSL – 190,000) – clean shaven. Born in a model village. Has already been the 4th and 6th Prime Minister of the Third Republic – surely that’s enough? Finished fifth in a Presidential bid in 1995.
  • Bogusław Ziętek (WZZ Sierpien ’80 – 170,000) – clean shaven. Militant Trade Union activist, a kind of Arthur Scargill po polsku.

Komorowski

I suppose it is reasonable to assume that the final leg of this race will be between Kaczyński and Komorowski. Voting probably split as it was when Kaczyński won the general election – all major city dwellers and businessmen/women (I’m trying to avoid using the term ‘intelligent people’) voting for Komorowski and all country-folk, strong Catholics and babcias voting for Kaczyński. I think Jarosław’s terrible performance as Prime Minister is bound to count against him but will probably be offset by a strong “sympathy” vote because of his brother’s tragic death. Whether sympathy will be enough we shall have to wait and see.

According to Polskie Radio this morning the latest poll suggests:

Bronislaw Komorowski would receive 46.5 percent of the vote, if presidential elections were held this weekend, finds the latest poll from the Homo Homini institute for Polish Radio. The poll sees support for the acting president and Civic Platform candidate down 1.1 percent compared to the same poll taken seven days ago. Komorowski’s nearest challenger for the ballot on June 20 remains Jaroslaw Kaczynski on 32.4 percent.

“Komorowski‘s support is stable,” says Anna Karasińska from Homo Homini. “Many are not necessarily for him but against Kaczynski. If Jaroslaw Kaczynski presents a softer image and himself as a politician of reconciliation then this might weaken the opposition to him. ”

Other candidates have not seen their support grow or decline significantly in the last seven days. Grzegorz Napieralski is on 6.1 percent, followed by Waldemar Pawlak (4.4 percent), Andrzej Olechowski (2.2 percent), Andrzej Lepper (0.6 percent), Marek Jurek ( 0.4 percent), Janusz Korwin Mikke-(0.4 percent), Kornel Morawiecki (0.1 percent) and Boguslaw Ziętek (0.0 percent). Six and a half percent said they had yet to make their minds up of how to vote. Turnout would be a high 69.3 percent.

For reasons best known to himself, our own candidate, Jamie, has been keeping a low profile during this critical campaigning period. However, in an attempt to rejuvenate things we’ve bought him some wellies and and a rubber dinghy so he can go and be Presidential with the double-drowned people of Sandomierz and other places suffering from the new flood-wave. Some of our more creative campaign workers have come up with slogans to be painted on the side of his dinghy, for example – “In times of flood you need an Island1! Vote Jamie and never be wet again!”.

If no candidate receives over 50% of the vote on June 20, a second round will be held on July 4. If you believe the polls, Komorowski is close to the 50% target but there’s nowt as queer as Polish politics and with democracy being what it is, you never know what’s going to happen next.

ANGOL FOR PRESIDENT!!!


PS – Our roving reporter, Bartek, (he of quiz fame) has written more intelligently on the same topic on his blog – HERE.

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44 thoughts on “Polish Presidential Election 2010

  1. The problem with Komorowski is that he’s just extraordinarily dull. Whenever I hear him speak he sounds like a somnambulant priest. On the plus side at least he’s fairly normal and seems unlikely to mortify the nation by falling over drunk at some state dinner.

  2. What the would-be president says is painfully apt – Komorowski indeed lacks something, maybe it’s not charisma, but his makings for a head of state are… let’s say insufficient. He’ll be an oridnary, or rather mediocre president – not the one Poles would be ashamed of, but nor someone outstanding they could be really proud of…

  3. Pingback: Global Voices in English » Poland: Approaching presidential elections

  4. Pingback: Fly to Poland » Blog archive » Poland: Approaching presidential elections

  5. Bogdan Zdrojewski, Radek Sikorski, Jacek Rostowski, Leszek Balcerowicz, Rafal Dutkiewicz,…and yes, even Jaroslaw Kaczynski would be better than Komorowski. Komorowski is a disaster.

    ps: Too bad Zbigniew Brzezinski is too old. He would be nice, too ha ha. Russians would be happy ha ha.

  6. I believe that the biggest influence on the outcome of the election will be how many people actually turn out (or up) to vote. And when one considers that the election will be held slap-bang in the middle of the World Cup, one wonders whether the average Pole will care more about pixellated images from another continent than which person from Warsaw will become their next President.

    (Of course if Poland had actually made it to the World Cup, then things would be entirely different)

  7. Nigel Farage has said about van Rompuy that he had charisma of a damp rag. We can say the same about Komorowski (but also he has an appearance of a level crossing attendant, not even a bank clerk). He might be only a puppet in the hands of some other people from the party. No candidate in this election is a person I want to vote for, but I must do something to fulfill my citizen’s duty. I think I’ll vote for Olechowski, he seems to be the least entangled in dirty political cliques and he is neither a puppet nor a freak. In the second round, if with Komorowski and Kaczyński, I’m gonna vote for Komorowski as the lesser evil, but with disgust.

  8. Yes, Komorowski is a disaster, but Kaczynski would be an armageddon. And a man who exchanged the corpse of his brother for the presidency. But Lech was even moderate in comparison to Jaroslaw. Who wants to watch a great festival of stonewalling and diplomatic embarrassments?

  9. diplomatic embarrassments ?

    look at sarkozy, berlusconi, merkel, van rumpoy, medvedew, gordon brown, zappatero….

    They are all embarrassing.

  10. Indeed, if Poland has qualified, Kaczysnki’s posters of “Polska najwazniej” etc, would probably have pulled in a few more voters.

    As it is, it looks fairly cut and dried for Komorowski. He doesn’t look like getting a majority first time around but the second round should be enough.

  11. It really depends on what you see as the role of the President of Poland, either because that is written down somewhere or because of how Presidents of other countries behave.

    IMO, the role of the President is primarily one of international diplomacy and representation with a side order of being a figurehead in Poland. The job of running the country should be carried out by the government with the support of the President, unless the government is trying something REALLY outrageous, which just about never happens anyway (unless it’s a Kaczyński gov).

    Therefore, in my fantasy world, the President would be someone – as guest said – like Sikorski or Balcerowicz. I’d rather have someone who can mingle easily outside of Poland even if they are slightly the wrong choice within Poland. The choices we have are just the opposite.

  12. The only real power of the Polish president is the power of veto, the rest is just diplomacy and representations, so you are completely right. I wanted to vote for Sikorski, but the conservative wing of PO forced the candidature of unremarkable Komorowski in their inner primary election.

    I’m really disgusted with a selection of the candidates in this election. The only fact that makes many people vote for Komorowski is the danger that Kaczyński may win. That will be a very average presidency, probably with no diplomatic scandals and no diplomatic successes.

    Moreover, there is too much politics in the Polish mass media and too much ideological controversies being so far from the real human problems – when there is no flooding or other disaster in Poland, 90% of “news” in the media are political. I’m sick and tired of them. I’m interested what’s going on in the whole country, not only in the few buildings in Warsaw.

  13. I can’t imagine the sheer astonishment of world’s leaders which will undoubtedly spread if Kaczynski will be elected. Just imagine the headlines: ‘Oops, they did it again’, ‘Poland’s got a spare’ and so on. Some less politically-aware people might even think we’ve resurected or zombified him. Some might even get a stroke and die, cause surely, dark forces are at work here.

    I’m not a big fan of Komorowski. There is actually no candidate that I can wholeheartedly support. But I do think that Komorowski will be less disastrous candidate than the second twin. He will just sit in the palace and make an occasional speech or shake some hands, take a trip to Belgium or somewhere. No revolutions. No fights between the goverment and the palace.
    I can go for that.

  14. I’m saving my vote for Island1 in case he reconsiders. I do this in order to save Poland from further flooding … plus all of the hedgehogs will be waterlogged, So there is reason to Vote for the man in the boat!

    Vote! Vote for the man in the Boat! Vote! Vote for the man in the Boat!

    Go Island1! :-D

  15. Well, he appears to be a good candidate. Not especially because of the Brit angle although I honestly don’t think it would hurt to have someone with the Brit experience allied to a love of Poland.

    So, in his favour I’d put:

    1/ High level of international experience
    2/ Speaks many languages
    3/ Economist with government experience
    4/ Married with children (only in so far as he therefore shares experience with majority of the population)

  16. Well, southern Poland, where Kaczynski has bigest electorate is flooded and this makes Komorowski’s chance is greater. I would prefer if Komorowski won’t be elected… I’m truly suprised, he won pre-election in PO.

    Btw, did You see todays news in Polsat tv? Napieralski was saying, he is going to reform health care in Poland and suddenly some woman asked him:
    – Sorry for interrupting. I’m a simple woman. I just want to hear some particulars. You say great words like ‘reform’ but tell me where will you find money for that? How will you find funds, without taking them out of our pockets? Napieralski tried to reply, but after while he apologized and said he has to go for next meeting. Busted;)

    Regards!

  17. And I accept this honorable and auspicious position, solely because he is neither able to run nor am I able to vote! (for the man in the boat).

    It is a catchy jingle, though. I might regret having created it.

  18. I will vote for Komorowski for the reason that I hope it will be a dull, non-eventful Presidency. I think it is just what Poland needs. Look how out of control politics have gotten at our neighbors’. Hungary has Jobbik, Slovakia is not far behind. The two are ready to nearly go to serious conflict over Hungarian minorities. Ukraine is a basketcase as usual. And as Jerzy Stachowiak above mentioned, hopefully a boring Presidency will force our media to find something else to report on rather than trying to find bs in our politics.

  19. People called Norman voting for Kaczyński.

    No, I jest.

    I mean people voting for Kaczyński because they don’t have anything more interesting than Komorowski as an alternative. As an alternative winner at any rate, they do have alternatives but as they are all struggling to get more than 5% then they become un-voteable-for, which just leaves the two choices – bad or boring.

  20. About 20 years I suppose. Still, at least Warsaw has caught up with Malta!

    I’m moving to Switzerland.

    Interesting to compare the UK, Spain & Italy with Germany and France.

    Ukraine’s a bloody mess, isn’t it.

  21. @Bartosz – thank you for the link – I heard about that slip-up, but I don’t watch TV and couldn’t see it.

    BTW quite reassuring – Poles’ economic awareness is on the rise if they can challenge a politician who says the money can be found in a budget but can’t say where the budget take the money from.

  22. Well, you see Kaczyński as bad and Komorowski as boring. I see Kaczyński as bad and Komorowski as worse. Many people are commenting based on their knowledge and that’s quite normal. The main problem is that most people don’t think about this, when they do it.
    From my point of view the problem are people, who don’t have same knowledge as me – like more than 90% of people (those less than 10% are only small part of Kaczyński voters). It’s quite specialised knowledge, but it justifies voting for Kaczyński in many situations. And this justifies vote against Komorowski, Sikorski, Napieralski and many other charismatic “non substantial” people for masses. And this knowledge makes me so strong for Kaczyński, that i can tolerate his social economy (better would be: Marek Jurek – for doing his thing [i don’t support anti abortion acts, but this man have my support for what he did]; JKM – for his intelligence and supporting wiser [which can be prove in Ising Model for social sciences] way of thinking, possible to manage law and non communistic economy). And i’m declared von Mises fan. ;]

    “(I’m trying to avoid using the term ‘intelligent people’) voting for Komorowski”
    I’m in upper 2% of inteligent people – do You use other definition of intelligence than Mensa does? Or do you define “intelligent people” as something not connected with intelligence?

    “unless the government is trying something REALLY outrageous, which just about never happens anyway (unless it’s a Kaczyński gov).”
    What is/was that REALLY outrageous thing that Kaczyńskis government would do and others would not?

  23. You would not like Switzerland. It’s completely different way of thinking. Closer to Kaczyński, Jurek and Korwin-Mikke. It’s the place, that makes you sick of EU. At least that’s what i found there. ;]
    Unfortunately, the world is changing and moving more to unification and collectivism. And so does Switzerland. But there is differece – when they move, EU moves also, keeping the distance.

  24. In another indication of gathering moment for Jaroslaw Kaczynski in the June 20 presidential elections, the Law and Justice candidate is just two percentage points behind Bronislaw Komorowski, according to the latest opinion poll.

    Bronislaw Komorowski (Civic Platform) is on 38 percent support in the survey by TNS OBOP, with Jaroslaw Kaczynski on 36 percent – the narrowest gap between the two leading candidates since the election campaign began.

  25. Scatts, you are trying hard mate, but, I hate to say, you know nothing about Poland and the Poles. You’ve overheard something, something has been thrust upon you, but you are in the dark.

    Look at Jamie (island1), he is aware, sincere, and does not follow what “is being said”. Just chill, step back, and learn.

  26. Pete, if I had a scooby what you’re talking about I’d be able to respond. Sadly, I don’t.

    Oh, if it’s referring to the comment immediately above – that was copied 100% from news.pl just by way of information relevant to the post and comments.

  27. I wanted to vote for Sikorski, so I’m rather angry at the Civic Platform for that silly pre-presidential election. Suddenly it’s as if party members chose a president rather than Poles.

    Still, I’ll have to vote for Komorowski in the second round, I’m just not decided about the first one.

    I’m not so sure that Komorowski will follow Tusk in everything. If he has any guts and wants to win the next time, he’ll likely try to distance himself from his former party. Kaczyński’s main failure was exactly in not being able to cease being the brother of his twin. The office is one of a president of all Poles rather than an extra representative of one’s former party.

    About the lack of women… actually if Kwaśniewska decided to run she’d be likely to win in the first round. There just aren’t many women willing, and then in such quick elections like we’re having now the parties are simply obliged to propose some candidates quickly. They know they’re not going to win it anyway.

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