Tuesday, March 15, 2011

In-fight night

Law and Justice (PiS) tends to toe the crazier side of the political line, but every now and then one of its MPs uncovers the truth. Adam Hofman said the planned March 21 debate over the government's pension changes between Finance Minister Jacek Rostowski and the famed economist Leszek Balcerowicz would be a battle between two sides of the same family and thus meaningless.

"No matter which version wins, we believe it will be a raid on our pensions," he told a current affairs TV program on Tuesday.

The government plans to cut pension contributions to the privately managed pension funds in a move that will reduce the fiscal deficit and public debt but that has also triggered intense debate. In the Monday night fight night, Rostowski will of course explain just why the government's plan is genius and why critics are merely stooges of the private pension funds. The perennial fighter Balcerowicz will come out swinging. He will slam the government for not reducing public expenditure, for avoiding structural reforms, and for taking the easy way out in a de facto grab of future pension money.

Regardless of who wins, Hofman is entirely right. This will be a fight between members or likely supporters of one political option. In many ways, a sign of just how dominant the PO is these days is that the battle over pensions fought out in the press and on TV in recent weeks and to be debated on Monday is between those who are basically PO supporters. If the PO has alienated some, these people would probably merely find a "PO, the sequel." The opposition, whether PiS or the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD), has been left aside.

This of course bodes well for the PO in the run-up to the parliamentary elections set for October. For the opposition, it will be tough to present an attractive alternative when they can't even get a seat at the table.

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