Tag Archives: Polish politics

Poland – Church versus State

If you’ve ever spent a lot of time in Poland you could be forgiven for thinking there would be words in the constitution like “Poland is proud to be a Catholic country and to uphold the teachings and doctrine of the world’s one true faith”, or something along those lines. This assumption might be formed not only from what you see around you in everyday life, the traditions upheld at times like Easter, Christmas, All Saints and so on but these impressions would be further strengthened when you watch what goes on in political life of the country as well. Arguments about burials, locations of crosses, IVF treatment, Sunday working, etc etc etc etc. Surprising as it may seem, this assumption would be wrong.

The following text is copied directly from The Constitution of the Republic of Poland (1997), chapter 1, article 25:

1. Churches and other religious organizations shall have equal rights.

2. Public authorities in the Republic of Poland shall be impartial in matters of personal conviction, whether religious or philosophical, or in relation to outlooks on life, and shall ensure their freedom of expression within public life.

3. The relationship between the State and churches and other religious organizations shall be based on the principle of respect for their autonomy and the mutual independence of each in its own sphere, as well as on the principle of cooperation for the individual and the common good.

4. The relations between the Republic of Poland and the Roman Catholic Church shall be determined by international treaty concluded with the Holy See, and by statute.

5. The relations between the Republic of Poland and other churches and religious organizations shall be determined by statutes adopted pursuant to agreements concluded between their appropriate representatives and the Council of Ministers.

Point 4 is the only mention in the entire document of the word ‘Catholic’ but it is perhaps worth looking at what is meant by “international treaty concluded with the Holy See”. This may refer to the concordat signed between the Holy See and the Republic of Poland in 1993 although this is not specifically mentioned by name in the constitution. The concordat appears to be a way for the Catholic Church to take care of its income, people, property, legal rights and indeed influence as rightly noted by the text….:

● mindful of the fact that the Catholic religion is professed by the majority of citizens of the Polish Nation;

● cognisant of the mission of the Catholic Church, the role played by the Church in the history of the Polish State for over a thousand years, as well as the importance of the Pontificate of His Holiness Pope John Paul II in the contemporary history of Poland;

….but this is tempered by many other references such as:

● guided by the above-mentioned values and by the general principles of international law and also by the principles respecting human rights and fundamental freedoms, as well as the elimination of all forms of intolerance and discrimination on religious grounds;

● in the belief that the development of a free and democratic society is founded on a respect for the dignity of people and their rights;

Having taken into account the constitutional principles and laws of the Republic of Poland and the documents of the Second Vatican Council and the Holy See with regard to religious freedom and relations between the Church and society, as well as the norms of Canon Law, [the Republic of Poland and the Holy See] have decided to enter into this present Concordat.

and indeed Article 1 itself, which fell short of using the word ‘separation’ but essentially means the same thing:

Article 1

The Republic of Poland and the Holy See reaffirm that the State and the Catholic Church are, each in its own domain, independent and autonomous, and that they are fully committed to respecting this principle in all their mutual relations and in co-operating for the promotion of the benefit of humanity and the good of the community.

The concordat is a typically worm-tongued document that attempts to leave as much room for interpretation as possible. It does this because of what it lacks, which is anything to suggest that it in any way overrules, supersedes or should be read as part of the constitution of The Republic of Poland. What it does, quite simply, is protect the Catholic Church’s current and future assets in Poland and allows the church the freedom to continue “doing its business” on Polish soil.

Back to the constitution – In chapter 2, under the heading of Personal Freedoms and Rights, article 53 talks about religion generally:

1. Freedom of conscience and religion shall be ensured to everyone.

2. Freedom of religion shall include the freedom to profess or to accept a religion by personal choice as well as to manifest such religion, either individually or collectively, publicly or privately, by worshipping, praying, participating in ceremonies, performing of rites or teaching. Freedom of religion shall also include possession of sanctuaries and other places of worship for the satisfaction of the needs of believers as well as the right of individuals, wherever they may be, to benefit from religious services.

3. Parents shall have the right to ensure their children a moral and religious upbringing and teaching in accordance with their convictions. The provisions of Article 48, para. 1 shall apply as appropriate [Parents shall have the right to rear their children in accordance with their own convictions. Such upbringing shall respect the degree of maturity of a child as well as his freedom of conscience and belief and also his convictions.]

4. The religion of a church or other legally recognized religious organization may be taught in schools, but other peoples’ freedom of religion and conscience shall not be infringed thereby.

5. The freedom to publicly express religion may be limited only by means of statute and only where this is necessary for the defence of State security, public order, health, morals or the freedoms and rights of others.

6. No one shall be compelled to participate or not participate in religious practices.

7. No one may be compelled by organs of public authority to disclose his philosophy of life, religious convictions or belief.

Finally in the Constitution, chapter 11, article 233 says:

Limitation of the freedoms and rights of persons and citizens only by reason of race, gender, language, faith or lack of it, social origin, ancestry or property shall be prohibited.

Worth noting additionally that Poland has not yet declared itself to have changed from a democracy to a theocracy nor has it joined with Costa Rica, Liechtenstein, Monaco & Malta in recognising Roman Catholicism as the state or official religion. This is actually more liberal than England, which does recognise the Anglican Church as its state religion. Quite ironic when you have had the opportunity to compare life in both countries.

In my humble and uneducated opinion, in the ways of writing a constitution, the above all seems to be well constructed and protective enough of my rights as an individual, whether a citizen of Poland or a thoroughly embedded alien. What concerns me though is whether Poland is actually “walking the walk”? It may be just the impression I get but I can’t help feeling that a combination of political parties / individuals and the organisation that is the Catholic Church in Poland are actually trying hard to remove or restrict our rights as laid down in the constitution by behaving in ways that suggest that the Catholic Church actually has far more rights and power than any other system of belief or non-belief.

Try getting your child any religious education in school that isn’t Catholic. Try excusing them from religious education altogether. Try skipping the “komunia” thing. Whether it be peer pressure, state pressure or church pressure – it’s not easy to be anything other than Catholic in Poland.

This is surely not a good thing and one that should either lead to a change in the constitution giving everyone a chance to revisit their allegiance to this country when it finally clearly states its real intentions or to steps being taken to ensure Poland’s current official and clearly stated position is enforced.

The recent heated and prolonged debates in parliament about IVF (In vitro fertilisation) are just the latest episode where Church and State have clashed. The question of Poland’s position with regard to IVF has indeed been rumbling on every since I’ve been here and seems, finally, to be coming to a head. Reactions have been quite extreme with the church using blackmail by threatening to ‘excommunicate’ MPs who vote for public funding for IVF and alternative bills being put forward to either completely ban IVF or even make the use of IVF a criminal offense. It is said that 60% of the country would be in favour of IVF if that was the only way for people to have a child. I myself have spoken to many people who have successfully used IVF, some of them deeply Catholic and not helped in coming to terms with it by the state nor the church. Why should these people be made to feel so guilty? IVF, like so many other issues, is a matter of personal choice not a matter to take up the time of this country’s government. People are not stupid. They understand the church’s position and are able to make their own decision about which is more important to them, doctrine or a child. As for all the MPs & political parties, all they need to do is decide whether they wish to reserve IVF as a privilege of those who can afford the up to 15,000 PLN needed for treatment or whether they are going to make it more available to all citizens. I know what I’d do.

Here’s a whacky idea – if the sanctity of human life is so important, how about spending less time arguing about IVF embryos and more time trying to stop another 20-30 grown-up people with families and responsibilities dying on the roads when they perform their Catholic duties next All Saints? Like they did this weekend and the same last year……

Enormous amounts of parliament’s time and energy, not to mention the media, continue to be used up by these spurious clashes between religion and politics. Religion has no part to play in politics, the constitution seems to confirm this and whilst the concordat makes every effort to join the two with a sea of wishy-washy language it ultimately fails to do so. Even if religion were so important there is equally nothing to say in the constitution that the Catholic Church is the only one to be listened to, quite the opposite in fact.

The government does not need the interruptions. The people could live easier without the guilt complex. Please get it sorted one way or another so we all know what’s going on around here!

Not sure which is the greater hypocrisy – England with its state religion that almost nobody cares about or Poland with no state religion that many people are nuts about! :-)

The author would like to state for the record that he’s a big fan for freedom of speech.

Tagged , , , , ,

The Hottest Polish Politician vote extended!

Pleased with the interest our little contest has gathered we decided to extend the vote for the Hottest Polish Politician until the end of March.

You can find out more about the female contestants here and about male contestants here.

VOTE NOW (IF YOU HAVEN’T VOTED YET)

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Hottest Polish Politician Contest – the Men

We’re back with the all-male finals of our Hottest Polish Politician contest. We are looking for one guy and one gal to become the Hottest Polish Polish Politician of the year.  We will send the lucky winner a bilingual diploma they can hang in their office and show off to their friends.

Last week the women’s final was featured on the national nightly news programe TVN Fakty. We’re too scared to imagine where this week’s contest might end up… 80% of the 460 Members of the Sejm are men – if this balance was recreated in out contest, we would have 40 male contestants.

Both contests will last one more week and then we announce the winners! Yay!

Contestant number 1

Sławomir Nowak is a 34-year-old MP from Gdańsk representing the Civic Platform party (centre-right) since 2004. Currently he holds the position of Secretary of State at the Chancellery of the Prime Minister of Poland. He is also the head of Prime-Minister’s political cabinet. He graduated from international relations at Gdańsk University and from management at Gdynia Maritime University. He has worked in advertising. Politically he was involved in liberal youth movement.

The Baltic Sea attracts windsufers from all over the Sejm
When you’re ready Mr Nowak we’ll try it on the water shall we?
Jak to na wojence ładnie
On his way to the Madonna concert

———————————————————————————————————-

Contestant number 2

Paweł Olszewski is a 30-year-old lawyer from Bydgoszcz, who also happens to be Civic Platform MP (centre-right). He manages exports for a furniture manufacturer. He was a spokesman for his party in the Kuyavia-Pomerania region and for three years he was a member of Bydgoszcz City Council.

In his own words: “My participation in socio-political life are a result of the wonderful years I spent in the Young Democrats association. There we learned how to successfully fight for our rights and take an active part in local political life.”

Xxxxxxx
Okay, so I hit the yellow ball with the stick, right?
Xxxxx
At the More Rights for Gingers rally

———————————————————————————————————-

Contestant number 3

Dawid Jackiewicz is a 36-year-old MP from Wrocław. He represents the Law and Justice party in the Sejm. During the Kaczynski era he held the post of Deputy Minister for the Treasury.

He should relaunch his website so that we could write something more about him.

Law and Order
Law and Order
Caught by tabloid photographer in a shopping centre with his friend during an important parliament debat! Naughty... but who wouldn't understand a passion for shoes?
Caught by a tabloid photographer in a shopping centre during an important parliamentary debate! Naughty… but who doesn’t understand a passion for shoes?

———————————————————————————————————-

Contestant number 4

Michał Jaros is a 28-year-old  MP from Wrocław. Born in Aleksandrów Kujawski (Kuyavia-Pomerania) he moved south to study at the Wrocław University of Economics. There he became an active member of a student’s union. Local Civic Platform noticed him, and offered a place on Wrocław City Council lists. He was elected, and after two years he was offered a good place on parliamentary election list.

His campaign became famous when he used a picture of a woman’s bum in tight jeans on his leaflet, coupled with the slogan “satisfaction guaranteed”.

Young MP donates blood
DNA tests to prove he’s old enough to be an MP
Elegant and friendly
At the student’s union bash

———————————————————————————————————-

Contestant number 5

Michał Marcinkiewicz is, at 25, the youngest MP in the Polish Sejm. He represents Civic Platform and his home town of Szczecin. From 2002–04 he worked in the European Parliament. He is the president of Morze Bałtyk Szczecin volleyball team.

In his own words: “I can honestly say – Szczecin is my city. I was born and raised here. Here I got my education and my first professional experiences. Here I met many good and interesting people. I feel a strong emotional bond with this city, and since I remember I wanted Szczecin to be the place to live comfortably.”

Voulez-vous (aha!) Take it now or leave it (aha!) Now is all we get (aha!) .... Nothing promised, no regrets Voulez-vous (aha!) Ain't no big decision (aha!) You know what to do (aha!) La question c'est voulez-vous
♫ Voulez-vous (aha!) Take it now or leave it (aha!) Now is all we get (aha!) …. Nothing promised, no regrets …. Voulez-vous (aha!) Ain’t no big decision (aha!) You know what to do (aha!) La question c’est voulez-vous ♫

Xxxxxxxxxxx
A Ku-Ku!

———————————————————————————————————-

Contestant number 6:

Łukasz Zbonikowski from Toruń is a 31-year-old lawyer and an MP representing the Law and Justice party in the Sejm. He is a professional politician: after experiences with the students’ union he began a career in the City Council of Włocławek in 1998, and was assigned to several political posts. He is the chairman of the Polish-Irish Parliament Group.

A Cypriot hotel accused Mr Zbonikowski of destroying a golf cart. The Speaker of the Sejm suspended his right to represent the Polish Parliament at the Council of Europe.

Mr Zbonikowski is a basketball enthusiast
Mr Zbonikowski is a basketball enthusiast
With children who came to see the very building where all the silly laws are being created
With children who came to see the very building where all the silly laws are being created

———————————————————————————————————-

Contestant number 7:

Donald Tusk from Gdańsk is a 51-year-old history graduate, an MP and the current Prime Minister of Poland. His Platforma Obywatelska party (centre-right) won the 2007 election. During the communist period he was actively enganed in opposition, for which he was fired from his job. For seven years had been doing physical work in a co-coperative society. After the collapse of  communism he was active in politics in liberal movements. He is one of the co-founders of Platforma Obywatelska.

He plays football every Thursday evening.

Scarf, 29.99
Scarf, 29.99, winning the election 29,000,000.00, seeing your opponents defeat live: priceless
Happy birthday mister president
Mr Tusk at Mme Tussaud’s

———————————————————————————————————-

Contestant number 8:

Paweł Poncyliusz from Warsaw is a 40-year-old MP (since 2001) representing the Law and Justice party in the Sejm. Since childhood he has been involved with the scouting movement. He studies history at the Warsaw University. For 8 years he was running his own business. He became famous when he agreed to a tabloid Fakt proposal to live for just 500 zł (120 euro) a month – the amount equivalent to what is left from a minimum wage after paying bills. The most popular Polish paper reported on his adventures everyday for a month.

In his own words: “Recently I became interested in impressionist paintings and Flemish painters”.

The White Party
The White Party
Always make sure there is no farting pillow on your seat when in public
Always make sure there is no farting pillow on your seat when in public

———————————————————————————————————-

Contestant number 9:

Damian Raczkowski is a 34-year-old law graduate and an MP from Białystok. He represents the Civic Platform party (centre-right) in the Sejm. He worked as a labour inspector (for a government institution controlling how businesses observe workers’ rights), and a realty manager for a local branch of Polish Rail.

Mr Raczkowski loves martial arts and has been training in taekwon-do for many years and holds a black belt. He also enjoys swimming, bicycle riding, tennis and snowboarding.

Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Hanging out at the Alma Mater
Artistic shot pregnant wife - would make great Gala cover
Artistic shot with pregnant wife – would make great Gala cover

———————————————————————————————————-

Contestant number 10:

Jakub Rutnicki from Szamotuły is a 30-year-old political science graduate and an MP representing the Civic Platform party. He was one of the finalists in the Polish edition of Pop Idol. Mr Rutnicki is a sports enthusiast and plays football and volley ball. He also completed water rescue training. In his region of Wielkopolska he organises a beach volley ball cup bearing his name.

In his own words: “The Poland of my dreams is a country where people are proud of their homeland”.

I asked for a latte, not a cappucino
I asked for a latte, not a cappucino
Oooops... If there are top secret government papers, where are the beach volleyball results?
Oooops… If these are the top secret government papers, where are the beach volleyball results?

———————————————————————————————————-

Due to popupar demand from our regular readers the following contestants have been added in the last moment:

———————————————————————————————————-

Contestant number 11:

Radosław Sikorski from Bydgoszcz is a 46-year-old PPE graduate of Oxford University, an MP and the the current Polish Minister for Foreign Affairs. Previously involved with the Kaczynski brothers’ Law and Justice party, acted as Minister of Defence in their government. Before the 2007 election he joined the Civic Platform party.

Between 1981-1989 he lived in the United Kingdom as an asylum seeker due to his involvement in Polish anti-communist opposition. During that time he worked as a correspondent for such British newspapers as The Sunday Telegrph, or The Spectator.

He is married to a well known American journalist Anne Applebaum.

At Milan Fashion Week
Bacstage at Milan Fashion Week

See me in my room
– Would you be so kind and join our war? Pleaaase? – Oh… I don’t know…

———————————————————————————————————-

Contestant number 12:

Wojciech Olejniczak is a 35-year-old MP (since 2001) from Łódź representing the Democratic Left Alliance (social-democrats, heirs to the communist party). He is a farming market graduate and management graduate at the Warsaw University of Life Sciences, holding a PhD degree in economics.  Between 1999 and 2000 he was the president of Peasant Youth Association. From 2005-2008 he was the chairman of his party. During the Leszek Miller government he acted as the Minister of Agriculture.

Inteviewed by Joan Rivers - live from the red carpet

Inteviewed by Joan Rivers - live from the red carpet

Mr Olejniczak and his drag performance

Mr Olejniczak and his drag performance

Vote now!

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Hottest Polish Politician Contest

THERE’S MORE LIKE THIS ON OUR NEW SITE – POLANDIAN.COM

Don’t watch the news?! – See what you’ve been missing! Polandian presents the best looking and sexiest lads and lasses in Polish politics… We are looking for one guy and one gal to become the Hottest Polish Polish Politician of the year.  We will send the lucky winner a bilingual diploma they can hang in their office and show off to their friends.

This week we’re voting for the sexiest female politician. Come back next week to vote for the men!

Contestant number 1

Iwona Guzowska is a 33-year-old multiple World Championship medalist in kick-boxing and boxing from Gdańsk and has been an MP since 2007. She represents the Civic Platform Party (PO, centre-right).

She is involved in charities that aid sick children.

Diplomatic mission
Diplomatic mission
Working on political power
Strong-arm tactics

———————————————————————————————————-

Contestant number 2:

Iwona Arent from Olsztyn – this 41-year-old member of Law and Justice party (PiS; conservative/social-right) has been an MP since 2006. She is a political scientist.

In her own words: “I got my patriotism from my grandparents, my grandfather was a Home Army soldier sent to Siberia after the war. The tales I heard from my grandfather, grandmother and parents shaped my love for Poland.”

Style and grace... is that Jennifer Aniston hairdo?
Style and grace… is that a Jennifer Aniston hairdo?
Obligatory Sejm photo
Obligatory Sejm photo

———————————————————————————————————-

Contestant number 3

Magda Gąsior-Marek is a 26-year-old banking graduate and an MP from Lublin. She joined the Civic Platform party in 2005 and her political star launched soon after. She soon won a Lublin City Council seat and then made it into the Sejm.  She promotes blood donation and good manners on the roads.

Her political idols are: Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński, Margaret Thatcher, Eugeniusz Kwiatkowski, Mother Teresa of Calcutta, St. Maximillian Maria Kolbe, Milton Friedman and Adam Smith.

Xxxxx
Look mum, I’m in the Sejm!
Xxxxxxx
Likes to spend time around men with big choppers

———————————————————————————————————-

Contestant number 4

Małgorzata Tkacz-Janik is a 44-year-old member of the Zieloni 2004 Party (The Greens) in Gliwice. She’s an academic and social activist and a specialist in the theory of literature and marketing communication. She organises conferences about sustainable development in her home town of Gliwice and motivational trainings for unemployed women.

In her own words: “Three issues are most important for me in my political and life plan: the rights of women, the quality of life where one lives, and social and cultural education of children, youth and adults.”

The sultry, flyaway look
Mhmmmmm...
Put it away dear, you’re impressing nobody

———————————————————————————————————-

Contestant number 5

Lidia Geringer de Oedenberg is a 50-year-old painter and journalist from Wrocław and has been a member of the European Parliament since 2004. She is a member of the Democratic Left Alliance (social-democrats, heirs of the communist party). In the European Parliament she represents the Party of European Socialists. She graduated from Wrocław University of Economics. For ten years she worked as a general manager of the international classical music festival Vratislavia Cantans. For four years she held the post of Director of the Witold Lutosławski Philharmonic of Wrocław.

Yes. I do know what you're thinking
Yes. I do know what you’re thinking

Some people love to work after hours
Some people love to work after hours

———————————————————————————————————-

Contestant number 6:

Joanna Mucha is a 33-year-old academic and MP from Lublin, a city she has represented since 2007. She works as an economics lecturer (specialising in the economics of healthcare) at the Catholic University of Lublin. She represents the Civic Platform party (centre-right).

In her own words: “For me politics means service to the people – this will never change. I have been interested in national matters since I was very young, and I always wanted to participate in politics because I know I am an honest, trustworthy and hardworking person. Now I also have a large knowledge, which I would like to use for the benefit of our country”.

Come over here and say that punk
Come over here and say that punk

Stepping out in style
Stepping out in style

———————————————————————————————————-

Contestant number 7:

Elżbieta Łukacijewska is a 42-year-old MP from Sanok (since 2001). Holding a Masters in business administration she worked as an accountant. In 1998 she was voted village administrator of Cisna (podkarpacie region). She represents the Civic Platform party (centre-right). She is the former president of the Sejm Commmision for Equal Status of Men and Women.

In her own words: “From my parents I learned to respect other people and their work. I observed their everyday effort, honesty and attachment to the land. Their struggles and difficulties taught me a lot.”

Friendly and elegant
Friendly and elegant
Mental note: don't give speeches when you're hungry
Mental note: don’t give speeches when you’re hungry

———————————————————————————————————-

Contestant number 8:

Katarzyna Matusik-Lipiec is a 33-year-old Civic Platform MP from Kraków, a city she has represented since 2007. After graduating from political science at the Jagiellonian University, she started working in an association promoting knowledge about the EU. For five years she was engaged in local government of the City of Kraków.

In her own words: “To deal with everyday duties I always try to find time for sports: skiing, swimming, roller skating. Less actively, but just as passionately, I am a fan of the Polish volleyball team”.

I always like to sign with a kiss
I always like to sign with a kiss

Better three hours early than a minute too late
Better three hours early than a minute too late

———————————————————————————————————-

Contestant number 9:

Małgorzata Kidawa-Błońska is a 52-year-old sociologist, film producer and an MP from Warsaw. For several years she represented the liberal-democratic Unia Wolności party in the Warsaw City Council. Currently she is a member of centre-right Platforma Obywatelska.

She takes special pride in being the grand-daughter of important Polish politicians: Stanisław Wojciechowski (President of Poland 1922-26) and Władysław Grabski (Prime Minister of Poland in 1920 and from 1923-25; architect of currency reformer – creator of the złoty).

Xxx
Vogue
Why do they always put the salt sticks on your side?!
Why do they always put the salt sticks on your side?!

———————————————————————————————————-

Contestant number 10:

Marzena Okła-Drewnowicz is a 36-year-old sociologist, social activist and an MP from Skarżysko-Kamienna. Since 2007 she has represented the Civic Platform party.  She has worked as a manager for social services in the Świętokrzyskie region and as a facilitator of trainings for social workers. She was actively engaged in numerous local non-governmental initiatives. Her best achievement is probably a charity organising free time for children from underprivileged backgrounds – which flourished when she took lead there.

Xxx
The Cheri Blair of a new generation

Explaining the Dutch delegation why they should adopt the Polish values
If this guy gives me one more flower I’m going to slap him

———————————————————————————————————-

Vote now!

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,