A GOVERNMENT FOR DIFFICULT TIMES
Alicja Dołowska talks with prof. Piotr Gliński, a sociologist, economist, a candidate of the Law and Justice party for the prime minister of the technical government, about the need of signing a Civil Pact for the crisis time and a necessity of return to the value of the common good
ALICJA DOŁOWSKA: - Do you want to create a technical government, if so, what government is it going to be? Is it possible to create the government without the political facilities? It would be of minority character…
PROF. PIOTR GLIŃSKI: - The possibility of setting up the technical government on the way of constructive vote of distrust is anticipated by the Constitution.
This kind of the government is generally set up in a political crisis. At the moment when there are unsolved serious political issues, or there is a normal government of the majority character which is incompetent or does not meet expectations, and in fact it is impossible to set up another government from the parliamentary majority. In this situation political parties or MPs in the parliament can decide on creating the government which would not represent directly the political majority, or would represent this majority but would not be a direct emanation of politicians to the executive authority. It would be based on the assumption that if most politicians think that in order to create a new government it is impossible to gain the political majority, then they appeal to a group of experts who are somehow apolitical. This government can have different forms. Firstly – it can consist of politicians of the new majority which was created from the collapse of the previous majority or experts who have been delegated by particular political groups. Or – in the third formula – it is created by experts assigned by the prime minister whom this new parliamentary majority trusts. Then the government has an author’s character.
– I am asking the question because in Poland we have not had such a government so far.
– After the war we didn’t. I think – after the year 1989, because there have not been any democratic procedures before. But before the war we had had the government of Władysław Grabowski twice, which had this kind of character. At this moment a similar government is in Italy. These solutions are accepted somehow for the difficult times, at a moment of crisis, political crisis and they are justified.
– You are going to talk with parliamentary clubs about the support for this kind of the government and you also declare to be Catholic. Don’t you think that by rejecting the world views, in many social issues the program of Justice and Law party and what you propose, are close to the program of the Democratic Left Alliance: in the issues of unemployment, health protection, retirement system?
– And this is just a way of my thinking. The technical government is mainly engaged with solving the most urgent social and economic problems. In this case we are standing in the face of a crisis, unemployment is increasing, many institutions are not functioning – and these are matter requiring an immediate action. In the existing situation, the government of experts would ‘put off’ moral matters (leaving a debate on their issue to the parliament) and would look for the biggest common denominator among particular political parties. And although I would not find it easy to talk with some parliamentary groups, I think that my duty would be to undertake such talks and look for common program areas. For the sake of good for Poland. This is my task and I think that these areas would be included. For example, the Democratic Left Alliance has recently been saying about bringing back canteens to schools, the Polish Peasant Party- about food in schools. People whose children attend schools, know what it is all about. And here we would surely come to an agreement. I think that in many difficult issues, for example, a fight against unemployment, we would also find common areas of agreement.
– Reactions to the mission which you have undertaken are the same. After the prime minister Donald Tusk gained a vote of trust in the Seym, many politicians admitted that your mission had come to end. But there are also favourable opinions, for example prof. Paweł Ruszkowski, a sociologist at the University of Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński stated publicly that your actions ‘are a very beneficial time for democracy, because we have an alternative here. The pressure of the Justice and Law party and debates which are going on, are the cause of bigger dynamics in the Civic Platform party’. But I do not know if you mean the second one…
– It is also a kind of interpretation which I am presenting. Because every move of activating of the opposition, especially in an substantive way – and I understand that at this moment I am inscribing myself into the substantive actions of the Polish opposition – improves the functioning of democracy, so it improves also the functioning of the present executive authority. It surely enforces mobilisation in the Civic Platform party. Anyway it is seen.
– You stated that after the year 1989 elites betrayed. Many Poles think so. What failed, especially that all these elites derived from the ‘Solidarity’, like you…..
– Many factors. Speaking about a rule, I mainly referred to the postulate of the 70s and later the 80s. – self –organisation of society, building and supporting the civilian society. Elites rejected this idea, did not build a system which would also develop the Polish democracy in a participatory sense. Certainly also in many other areas the elites did not meet the requirement. What were the reasons? I think that there were a few of them. It was simply assumed that Polish reforms should be realised by order of the superior authority, just with the help of narrow elites which ‘know better than the society’. Following this rule, among the others civilian committees were terminated in the beginning of Polish reforms. First there were intellectual and program mistakes, later business in various types of economic issues. This all was a reason that Polish elites did not meet the requirement.
– How do you, as a man ‘S’ can call yourself as a liberal-conservative man? And you refer to the social teaching of the Church. How to explain it to readers, who have bad association with the term ‘liberal’?
– The word ‘liberal’ refers to the respect for freedom. Freedom as a value is very important. Freedom of choice is not contradictory with the Christian social teaching. I only emphasize that I have respect to the human freedom. We should remember about it. I am not related to the dictate of freedom, but only to responsibility and obligations towards the community. And in this sense, saying about oneself, I am liberal-conservative – I just mean it.
– For you, as a conservative liberal, the function of the state subsidiarity is obvious…
– The rule of subsidiarity, included in the social teaching of the Church, perfectly organizes the country and is not contradict with my understanding of freedom. After all, the rule of subsidiarity says about the help of the state for self-organisation. For human initiatives. Whereas the bottom-up human initiatives must be based on the human freedom, freedom of action, freedom for activity, creativity, etc. Without it we would not have either logically functioning society or development.
– Another government after the year 1989 does not cope with underfunded health protection. Liquidation of the National Health Fund, as it is proposed by the Justice and Law party and budget financing will not solve the problem. Do you consider implementation of extra fees, because media say about this necessity more and more? The problem is that in Poland the area of poverty and exclusion is bigger and bigger. And we have already got payments. Not only in stomatology, like for medicaments, for which we pay the most in Europe from our pockets. 7 per cent of patients had to stop treatment for financial reasons.
– I would be irresponsible if at this moment I said that I have prepared remedy for the problems of health care service. Whereas I look at various ideas for its reform with respect and interest. The National Health Fund is surely as an institution of unnecessary bureaucratic burdens. And in fact in the health protection there are too few means. In order to have them more, the economic growth and better distribution of public funds are needed. There are not any good solutions here because there will always be too few means. However, we should guarantee a basic range of services within the public health care service, including specialist services. In this direction the concept of creating a net of hospitals is going, which is proposed by the Law and Justice party. These are good solutions. Whereas as far as a partial payment is concerned, I think that we do not have to start from it, although we should admit that a big part of the society, being by 5 per cent bigger year by year, pays or health care services, using private surgeries, if people do not want to stand in queues. However, not everybody can afford it.
– What are the most important problems to solve? What would you like to do in the first place? So many things appeared that everything ‘is for yesterday’.
– In fact, everything must be done at once. Surely one of the basic matters is a problem of unemployment which must be solved very actively. The issue of work should be connected with stimulation of economy development and economic growth. Otherwise it would be patching holes in the system of fight against unemployment which does not work. However, the basic issues are: economy stimulation and creating workplaces, national programs which should deal with it, adding money to part-time jobs, maintaining workplaces in particular situations. There are a lot of devices which should be started energetically. Finally, the means of the Work Fund must be unblocked and aimed for creating workplaces. There are a lot of things to do in this area. Unfortunately the present government is still helpless towards this problem. I do not see any strategy.
– You said – which has already been exposed while the Law and Justice party was governing – about the need of signing the Social Pact, a social contract between the state-employer – employees and wider civilian institutions. It is a great thought and a great need. But will you find any allies for this idea?
– I think I will. I mean the Civilian Pact. In a debate devoted to work, organised by the Law and Justice party, was attended by the representatives of labour unions, organisation of employers and scientists. These debates are helpful to achieve a consensus in the issue of signing this pact. There were talks earlier, attempts of signing an agreement in basic issues but they failed. In this pact priorities would be included. Basic actions, which would have to be decided about and agreed on in their realisation. I think that there might be an agreement through a good will; as well as consideration of the results of the crisis and the issue of economic development. The pact should be surely realised differently at the time of crisis, and maybe look different at the time of the economic growth. And what is important, also other actors of the civilian scene should participate in the process of work and signing the pact, for example, the representatives of cooperative movement, a sector of non-governmental organisation, because these are also vast social sectors which should have more right to take a voice in the issue of work.
– Talking about your mission, you emphasized that it is all also about another style of pursuing politics. You refer to the value of public good, can 20 years of destruction of common welfare be compensated, as well as taking to oneself what was common for everybody ? It may be a long process?
– Certainly, it is going to be difficult. We are surely going to have a long period of regaining this value. Especially that in the public life there are too many conflicts, aggression, language which is defined as a speech of hatred. It is not going to be easy to reverse this tendency, change the policy into the form of a debate in the public matters. It sometimes seems as if somebody wanted us to quarrel. But we must try to change this state of things.