Thursday, April 18, 2013

Be careful what you wish for, Polish edition

Who really won? Piechocinski or Pawlak.
Politics is a dangerous game that I imagine is extremely exhilarating when you win, especially if you vanquish a hated rival at the same time as having a long trying period as an outsider vindicated in a shock result that shakes up the political scene. The challenge has been met with a master-stroke. You are the better man. But what happens when that victory makes you deputy prime minister, economy minister and leader of the junior ruling coalition partner in a mid-sized European state?

I think Janusz Piechocinski, holder of these three crowns, definitely has a new appreciation of the adage used to title this post -- be careful what you wish for. 

Janusz, if I may call him that, was the perennial outsider in the Polish Peasants' Party (PSL), the junior ruling coalition party, but managed to slowly but steadily build support. The man he ousted, Waldemar "Waldek" Pawlak, a hero of this blog once or twice, was the PSL insider par excellence who could just look at a ministry or government institution and out would fall jobs for PSL members across Poland. 

Ahead of a leadership wrangle last November, Pawlak was the calm, cool, collected, maybe too arrogant incumbent who laughed off the challenge by a Piechocinski who in turn gave off more than a whiff of a fanatic soon to be fended off. Then came the vote . . . and Piechocinski won by 17 votes. Fanatic no more. Victor now. What a finish!

Pawlak, for all his sins as PSL leader, manned up and went off into the sunset. Piechocinski parachuted into his positions as the new man in town. 

That new man in town seems to have burned up his welcome mat in just five months. The daily Gazeta Wyborcza reports Thursday that unidentified members of the senior ruling Civic Platform (PO) and even his own PSL are disappointed. The new PSL leader is accused of not knowing how to run his ministry, which is said to be in a mess. During a recent gas pipeline deal/controversy in which Prime Minister Donald Tusk was caught off-guard (a rarity these days), Piechocinski's lack of action or attention seems to have played a major role. The PSL leader is also accused of being too media hungry (what politician isn't, though?). 

But worst is that under his watch two PSL members of parliament recently voted against a government minister in a vote of no confidence. This is in fact serious. The PO-PSL's majority is only four. If two vote against, then one can start seeing an upset as possible and with that the government's vaunted stability vanishes like a bottle of vodka at a Samoobrona leadership convention.

The dismay has reportedly become so stark that a politician close to Prime Minister Donald Tusk had this to say: "We have even begun to pray: Come back Waldek! Pawlak was a difficult partner but during his time no one from the PSL ever voted against a government colleague." 

When you are from the PO and praying that Waldemar Pawlak comes back, you know Piechocinski has a problem. Time to pull up the bootstraps, Janusz, or Waldek could soon find himself resurrected much faster than anyone thought.

No comments:

Post a Comment