Poland back on her feet?
Poland's new government is socially conservative and eurosceptic, something which makes the European elites nervous to say the least. But Poland needs a new start, and the Law and Justice Party has a massive popular mandate
First, let's admit the simple fact that not all people, and hence not all nations, think alike. Certain models which work perfectly well in some places turn out to be complete failures elsewhere.
Let's just remind ourselves of the spectacular failure of the American-sponsored "democracies" in Afghanistan and Iraq, whose people, it unfortunately seems, have always preferred to be governed by authoritarian regimes.
But today I want to concentrate on the example of Poland from the Eastern European Visegrad Group, all of whose four members are now governed by socially conservative parties.
The last two Polish governments were formed by the Civic Platform (Platforma Obywatelska), an initially economically liberal party that took over off the back of the EU-accession hype but soon concentrated on retaining power by any means necessary, to eventually become not much more than an executioner of the EU's, or rather Germany's, will in Poland.
Eight years of Poland toeing the EU/German line came to a halt last week with a decisive win for the socially conservative euro-realist Law and Justice party (Prawo i Sprawiedliwosc), obliteration of the Civic Platform euro-enthusiasts coupled with a complete expulsion of the left from the Polish Parliament (Sejm) and the entrance of a handful of nationalists and libertarians via the Kukiz movement.
Unfortunately, the exclusively libertarian and eurosceptic KORWiN party narrowly missed the 5 percent threshold for parliamentary representation.
Importantly, thanks to an exceptionally strong showing at the polls, the Law and Justice party can now govern without the need for a coalition. The simultaneously held Senate (upper chamber of the Polish Parliament) elections also returned a Law and Justice majority, meaning that it should be relatively easy to pass proposed new laws.
And, of course, the Presidential elections held in May this year already gave Poland Andrzej Duda who challenged the Civic Platform incumbent on a Law and Justice ticket.
This near absolute power might just be what Poland needs as, despite all the propaganda presented in the largely German-owned "Polish" media, Poland is in a need of profound and swift reforms.
The problem of post-communist bureaucracy has only been exacerbated over the last decade by EU's own red tape. Poles are clearly taxed way more than most of their EU counterparts, with, by way of example, those on Polish minimum wages having three times as much siphoned off in comparison with their British counterparts.
Law is largely designed to protect the powerful, mainly big companies, and makes Poland a hostile place for its own citizens -- the Swiss Franc denominated mortgage scam which affects millions of Poles is a perfect case in point.
To add to a long list of shortcomings, the lack of pro-family policies is now reflected in one of the lowest fertility rates in the world, on top of which the country has been bleeding its most productive citizens since EU accession in 2004, with a millions now paying their taxes and starting families in Western Europe.
I am not suggesting that Law and Justice can fix all these and other issues, but at least they have a clear mandate from the Polish nation to try.
Their hands will not be tied, and, what is most important, if they do not deliver they will only have themselves to blame.
But why did this particular party get such strong backing? Law and Justice combines a conservative vision of society with notions such as family values, the Catholic Church, patriotism and tradition all held in high esteem, along with some etatism that brings hope to those who may feel hard done by the last two decades of often superficial reforms.
Of course, Law and Justice also attracts some free marketers and libertarians, and last week's elections returned at least a couple of such MPs. As further proof of that it is worth mentioning that all of the KORWiN party's MPs to date have been Law and Justice defectors.
But, importantly, Poland already had a Law and Justice government as well as a President in power a decade ago, and if not for the 2010 Smolensk tragedy, which resulted in the deaths of many Polish politicians including President Lech Kaczynski, they may have been able to make make a political comeback sooner.
The party idealizes pre-war Poland and is especially fond of Marshall Jozef Pilsudski, for his internal as well as foreign policies. Pilsudski championed Poland's leadership in Central and Eastern Europe -- an area to which Law and Justice also attach much importance.
It is this linkage with a highly regarded period in Polish history that makes Law and Justice a natural choice for a great many Poles. However, it must be noted that Hungarians, Slovaks and Czechs have all recently elected similarly inclined politicians suggesting that this part of the world finds this kind of politics a natural choice.
So, what does Law and Justice mean for Poland's international outlook? For one thing, the days of Poland being Germany's or the EU's "yes man" are firmly over. It is fair to assume that in her conduct Poland will stop being driven by the EU's best interests and concentrate on her own interests instead.
Further, Poland is more than likely to stop being Germany's support act and will look to rebuild her influence to the South and East, within the EU as well as outside of it. Law and Justice are traditionally Atlanticist and hence are also suspicious of both Russia and Germany.
Hungary's Viktor Orban is held in high regard so I expect that the centuries-old Polish-Hungarian friendship will also be rekindled soon. Last time they were in power, strong Polish alliances with the U.S, Ukraine and Georgia were formed or maintained.
As far as the United Kingdom is concerned, Law and Justice are not only Atlanticist, and as such attach much importance and sentiment to Polish-British relations, but also sit in the same European Conservatives and Reformists group as Tory MEPs do.
Indeed, Syed Kamall MEP is well acquainted with President Andrzej Duda who only gave up his MEP post this summer. As such, it is quite likely that Poland will team up with the United Kingdom to form a counterweight to Germany's EU hegemony.
I foresee a positive change in Polish-British relations, sooner rather than later, which should also benefit wider Europe. For Atlanticist completeness we now need a Republican president in the USA.
Przemek Skwirczynski was UKIP's Parliamentary Candidate for Tooting at the 2015 general election. He is no longer a member of UKIP and has returned to the Conservative Party
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