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.
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;
- 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.
- Free daily bus transport for all residents to either Dresden, Chemnitz or Prague.
- 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.
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.