Sunday, February 13, 2011

Shhhh, I found out the PO's secret!

The Civic Platform's (PO) dirty little secret finally dawned on me today: innumeracy. This amazing Eureka moment came when I read a story about when the PO wants to hold parliamentary elections this autumn. According to Poland's state news agency PAP, the PO no longer wants October 23, its previous favoured date, but rather November 6.

Problem is, this does not seem to meet constitutional requirements. The constitution says the president must announce the election date by August 7 for any non-working day within 30 days of the term's expiry. The term started on November 5, 2007. That would put the acceptable dates between October 6 and November 4 with the Sundays being October 9, 16, 23 and 30. 

Readers with a keen eye will note the absence of November 6. Though the bolder out there might say the PO is simply erring on the less than competent side of the equation, I prefer the far more plausible explanation that the PO just can't count.

The innumeracy argument is especially persuasive if one looks at mounting public finance problems. The PO-led government started the term in late 2007 with the wider budget deficit at 1.9% of gross domestic product, saw this rise to 3.7% in 2008 and 7.2% in 2009 and it will likely exceed 8% in 2010. The EU's requirement is that it be below 3%.

The PO now argues it must rollback a previous reform to the pension system to handle the "crisis" with the deficit. But for the past three years it has not accepted that there was any kind of problem and hence did nothing to shrink the deficit. One might say the PO was somehow lying that the deficit was not a problem, but I'd prefer to believe it just couldn't add up the numbers.

The innumeracy argument holds in other areas well, such as how the plan to build thousands and thousands of kilometres of roads turned into something far less ambitious or how the plan to seriously cut red tape in an area like construction permits saw the time go from 311 days when the PO took office to, wait for it, 311 days in 2011. This is more of a subtraction problem.

Illiteracy usually gets all the glory, as it were, while its poorer cousin innumeracy is left in the shadows. But the inability to count is arguably just as serious, if not more so. Thankfully for the PO and other innumerates out there, an easy solution exists: Math for Dummies.

Your welcome.


  1. Hi

    My friend send me your blog and it's wonderful to finally find a regular source of opinion on Polish politics in the English language.

    Kind regards,