Friday, March 11, 2011

Prime Minister Michal Boni?

Who better to be prime minister than a man widely called the government's brain? What better man to give the reins of power to than one with immense government experience who has the reputation of being a troubleshooter extraordinaire and who has dealt with all the most intractable recent government problems? Why not give ultimate control to the man with a long-term vision of a Poland that would truly soar like the eagle it likes to style itself as? Ladies and gentlemen, meet Mr. Michal Boni, the prime minister if I had a choice.

Boni, 56, is currently a minister without brief and the head of the government's Standing Committee, which runs point on government legislation. He has long been considered one of Prime Minister Donald Tusk's top advisers and has negotiated breakthroughs on prickly issues like limiting early retirement eligibility, teacher wage hikes, and even providing help for families that lost loved ones in the Smolensk plane crash. He is also at the forefront of government efforts to limit early retirement eligibility for uniformed personnel.

Boni, who helped write the Civic Platform's (PO) program, has also presented the ambition "Poland 2030" report charting out how Poland can institute reforms to improve the education and health-care systems, activate the many unemployed, deal with other social problems and put the economy on sound footing to help catch up to the old EU and deal with the looming ageing problem.

But even as I call for Boni's elevation, his star has fallen. Rather than moving closer to more responsibility, he is arguably further away than ever. PM Tusk prefers the point of view of the always proud Finance Minister Jacek Rostowski, who is Boni's true nemesis in the government, and Jan Krzysztof Bielecki, Tusk's grey eminence if there ever was one.

Rostowski, Bielecki and the maddening Labour Minister Jolanta Fedak have seemingly teamed up to stop any sort of radical reform or deep-seated changes and instead focused on the politically desirable. As we have noted, that had made the PO less like the pro-reform group it was once to a party implementing capitalism with Chinese characteristics (with the emphasis on the latter).


The Rostowski-Bieliecki-Fedak were the trio behind getting Tusk to back the now government-approved rollback of a previous pension reform. Boni had opposed such a move.

The 'anti-reform' triumvirate also just beat Boni on how much future transfers to the privately managed pillar of the pension system will be. After a reportedly stormy Tuesday government sitting at which the pension changes were approved, Boni refused to go in front of the cameras to present the plan. "I won't make a fool of myself," he said.

Will Boni quit? For now, the reports are he won't because he remains too loyal to Tusk. But this begs the question: how loyal has Tusk been to those that serve him and the liberal ideals both he and they once professed.

1 comment:

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