Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Komorowski, red herring

The story goes that red herrings, a heavily smoked pungent fish, were dragged along a trail to mislead hounds from the true scent of the fox or hare actually being hunted. By routes obscure and less so a "red herring" has thus come to mean anything that diverts attention away from the real goal or a clue that leads in the wrong direction. Poland's President Bronislaw Komorowski is a red herring.

Komorowski and his staff have been raising the possibility he will oppose the government's controversial plan to change the pension system in a way undermining the privately run part of the system and giving more onus to the state part. The government says it is 'correcting mistakes' in the original much-lauded reform. Opponents say the senior ruling Civic Platform (PO) is trying to avoid painful decisions ahead of October's general election.

The government's defence of its "reform" is robust and often downright nasty. But many PO members are aghast. The changes seem to violate the PO's very liberal foundation. Some PO aficionados are also cringing at the strange bedfellows as leftists and radical nationalists have applauded the plan.

Komorowski, mostly a loyal PO member, and the suggestion he could go against the pension changes could signal actual unease. He might just be trying to cool Prime Minister and PO boss Donald Tusk's ever more frequent compromises that increasingly appear to undermine the PO's raison d'etre itself.

But it is far more likely Komorowski is a red herring and feels no real opposition to the bill. The changes will go a long way to easing the risk public debt crosses a key level that would legally force the government to cut spending and raise taxes, neither advisable in an election year. Any veto or delay would thus force the PO-led government to make painful moves.

Komorowski's apparent opposition is also like a release valve, letting out a little steam that allows internal opponents to vent. It also provides cover for the PO and Tusk, who can say 'it was a hard choice; we even had to go against our own party.'

In the end, nothing will stop Tusk and the government from making the pension changes their big "reform." Not the president. Not Leszek Balcerowicz. Not the sundry economists opposing it. Not the opposition. It's a done deal.

1 comment:

  1. That's still a ballsy prediction. I still believe there are forces at work that will kill this bill. Veto!