Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Poland's next government: plus ça change

One gauge of just how sure everyone is that Civic Platform (PO) will win the October general elections is a news focus on which PO members will be in the next government and sarcastic blog posts like this one criticising the next government before it's even formed.

Donald Tusk, the prime minister and PO boss, supposedly very much desires a repeat term to win for himself the bragging rights as the only Polish prime minister to serve two full terms. That's not quite up there with the first man to climb Everest backwards but I guess it's something.

To boost the PO's chances, Tusk is already approaching what must not just be a Polish record but a Guinness book record for most successive TV appearances by a standing, supposedly working PM. Tusk has been opening oil refineries and industrial plants and stadiums and attending football matches, picnics and conferences here, there and everywhere every day. I thought the one-time Prime Minister Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz, RIP (his political career), was too active in the media. Tusk puts him to absolute shame.

Other ministers are to be . . . but wait, you say, isn't it a little premature to be talking about the next PO-based government to come after elections still several months away? Didn't the PO also have a big lead in the run-up to the 2005 elections only to see it evaporate and for it to lose? Won't whichever coalition partner the PO invariably gets stuck with sink some of these nice plans? Yes, yes and yes.

The PO is clearly well-placed for the elections, but who knows. Many voters are tired of the party, some are disappointed in the lack or choice of reform, and others are turned off as they would be by any standing government. Tusk's potential over-presence in the media could also be a liability. Though he remains popular, the fact that Tusk is the PO these days means any blow to his standing would hurt the party's standing that much more. If that were to happen, the elections would be a lot more interesting.

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