Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Jaroslaw Kaczynski, PO bogeyman

In 2005 to 2007 Poland was swept by a blaze of political accusation, fires of conspiracy and doubt and betrayal, an inferno of finger pointing and special services and aggression. One man was to blame: Jaroslaw Kaczynski, bogeyman.

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk, the soccer-loving leader of the co-ruling Civic Platform (PO), is not a dumb man. Fear is the best motivator in politics, he knows, and thus fear he does fan. That fear is all related to Jaroslaw Kaczynski, leader of the kooky conservative Law and Justice, aka, the devil incarnate to many PO voters.

Fear has basically allowed the Civic Platform to win every election since the 2007 parliamentary polls Jaroslaw triggered in a gambit that blew up in his face. Scare-mongering related to Jaroslaw Kaczynski and PiS likewise helped current President Bronislaw Komorowski (PO) fend off a surprisingly spirited challenge from Jaroslaw in the June-July 2010 presidential elections. Dread of Jaroslaw also helps keep the PO's public support high. It is very likely the Civic Platform will ratchet up the fear going toward the next general elections to be held this October.

But ironically Tusk and his Civic Platform are more and more bound to the fate of the very man and party they profess to hate. In fact, nearly half (47%) of respondents to a recent poll said the single biggest reason to vote for the PO was simply to prevent Law and Justice from taking power. That is hardly a vote of confidence in the Platform's, er, platform.

It also makes the PO vulnerable. If Jaroslaw Kaczynski were ever to step aside and/or the Law and Justice would moderate, the Civic Platform could be a lot less successful. In fact, it is possible -- maybe even likely -- that if PiS softened its message, it could actually challenge Tusk's party, as in the recent presidential elections.

Luckily for Tusk, Jaroslaw shows no sign of stepping down. Following the April 2010 Smolensk plane crash that killed his twin, President Lech Kaczynski, he treats the political battle as a way of honouring his late brother. Having totally thrown aside the kindlier, gentler image sold in the 2010 presidential election, Jaroslaw piles one radical statement upon the other. The bogeyman thus seems to accept his role, seemingly ensuring Civic Platform electoral success for many years to come.

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