A POLISH KALEIDOSCOPE
Wiesława Lewandowska talks with Prof. Zdzisław Krasnodębski about ducks, rabbits, wolves and sorrel, that is, about political rivalry and the interest of the society
WIESŁAWA LEWANDOWSKA: - Being on holiday in Poland, you must have noticed how green it is, how much fruit sorrel has given this year, according to one of politicians in the governmental party, providential food for Poles…
PROF. ZDZISŁAW KRASNODĘBSKI: - The governmental party must be glad about this harvest. And Poland is really beautiful and green, although this mirage of the colourful reality, green island and blissful joy might have already finished. It is seen more clearly that we have finally reached the moment of awakening and people start being worried.
– Surveys show quite a radical withdrawal of the public opinion from the government of Donald Tusk, although its allegedly strongest point was just the way of communicating with the society.
– Indeed, it is funny, because suddenly there appeared complaints that the prime minister, who enchanted people with his words, and cleared himself, while discrediting his political opponents, is not able to do it anymore. And, quite recently, whole groups of oppositionist experts have been making unsuccessful attempts to neutralize these charms of the governing Civic Platform party.
– But the awakening of the society came completely itself, didn’t it?
– It happens so, when we deal with a coincidence of many phenomena from the sphere of group psychology, and this present awakening of Poles is just an effect of their accumulation. It is even difficult to locate this landmark in the public opinion in time. These first, quite clear signs of the change could be seen this spring, when the loose governmental celebrations of the 3 May feast were mocked at.
– Can’t we recognize any of the particular political-social and economic actions of the government as a cause of this turning-point?
– Oddly enough, but we can’t. Although the raise retirement age caused protests of the Trade Unions, there was still understanding of the public opinion for the governmental actions. When in autumn 2012 the Law and Justice party took the first place in surveys – after media-political spectacle about the so-called Trinitrotoluene scandal – the Civic Platform has easily regained its influences on the public opinion.
– This time not for long. But something has burst…
– We must rather think on what new has happened; the so-called Trinitrotoluene scandal was going to destroy the ‘Rzeczpospolita’ newspaper, criticizing the government, but it also made two new opinion-making weeklies appear. Later the TV ‘Republika’ appeared. So, this ‘bursting’ can be somehow connected with becoming stronger by the mainstream media. So, there was no case which would have been expected, and after which there would have been awakening and the turning point of social emotions. It happened so, as if somebody had only turned the kaleidoscope and used the same elements to form a completely new shape. Psychologically speaking, because of accumulated emotions, the perception of people has unexpectedly changed and to such an extent that we can see a rabbit instead of a duck in the picture now…Suddenly, people started seeing somebody else in the person of Tusk.
– Or maybe, not a nice rabbit, but a wolf?
– That’s it. Suddenly, it turned out that some features of the prime-minister start irritating people, although they have been liked so far. And, during the last convention of the Civic Platform (in the end of June) there were lots of compliments on the greatness of the prime minister, on his unusual energy. He was contrasted with Jarosław Kaczyński, exhausted with life. And it turned out a few days later, that it is completely the other way round…
– Why is this commotion of the governing party?
– Because of the panic in the authority. Even the most fervent critics of the Law and Justice party started admitting the fact that Kaczyński can be a good prime-minister. Daniel Passent writes, quoting the ‘Nie’ newspaper that Kaczyński looks much better in meetings with citizens than on TV or at big events. Representatives of opinion-making elites do not conceal their disappointment about the government of Tusk, and even start expressing their favor towards the Law and Justice party.
– It would seem that it will never come, because their such sense of revenge and power of destruction was so strong.
– And now we should only think why this group adoration of the fatal government lasted so long and was dragging on so unreasonably.
– Maybe because the government has prolonged it professionally through much commotion around the organization EURO 2012? Everybody was made to believe that it would be an evidence for a great success of Poland. This event pushed away into real troubles into a shadow, and the government had an occasion to emphasize its merits. Poles were glad unconsciously, and when, finally, after this apogee of satisfaction in summer 2012, it was time for real conclusions.
– In summer 2013 we speak about a crisis of Donald Tusk’s government, although it is still far to its collapse, isn’t it?
– The government hopes that it will survive this ‘temporary’ crisis. He hopes for prosperity next year, and, first of all, for the new European budget, which will allow him again to emphasize his merits and gain Poles’ favor.
– Will Poles believe in it again?
– I hope, they won’t. I hope they will finally understand that this government has not got any more ideas, anyway, it has never had any surprising ideas – and it will only repeat its mistakes. There will again be the same scenario of maintaining everything till elections at any cost.
– But not completely in an idly way? Can we expect a counter-offensive of the governmental party?
– We can expect everything. However, I would be more afraid of the situation when the Civic Platform will start an earlier signalized fight against Polish fascism, whose purpose will be distracting attention from really important problems, and also polarization of the society and provocation of oppositionist politicians. There may even be a very shocking breach of citizens’ rights and the rights of opposition. The worst thing, the government can do, is making Europe believe that in Poland there is a danger of extremism and, due to it, we must undertake special actions. There is much concern about what will happen in Poland during this year’s ceremonies of the National Day of 11 November; we can expect even much more provocations than last year. It cannot be denied, especially that social atmosphere will be getting worse, because nothing proves that this government will come out of troubles.
– And can’t we hope that it will resign from its authority peacefully?
– It is one of options of the political scenario of the Civic Platform – resigning from the authority for a short time, a kind of a repeated situation of the history of Jan Olszewski’s government. So, the Civic Platform can resign from the authority earlier and hope for a short term of office of the next government, for reaction of financial markets, a shout in Poland, bitter criticism abroad. It can hope that this government will not have enough time to do anything of introduce personal changes, or even give opinions on successors.
– What will be next?
– Later, there will be a providential man, popular for trustfulness in Europe, a kind of Polish Mario Monti (the current prime minister of Italy) – that is, for example, Buzek, Lewandowski. The government of experts related to the Civic Platform will be established, certainly after changed, renewed……Such strengthened Platform will sustain till the elections in 2015, after which it will reach the full authority again.
– Do you think the Law and Justice party will easily join the scenario which it finds so baleful?
– I think that the management of this party is aware of the fact that this option is quite possible, and is also aware of the fact what state it will take over the country in, and also the fact that it will not have so much time to introduce such difficult changes. But it seems that the chairman Kaczyński treats the issue in the terms of a duty and thinks that in case of a more urgent necessity, also such an attempt will have to be made…
– What do you think about program readiness of the Law and Justice party for taking over the authority?
– I am always skeptical, when it concerns too detailed programs of political parties. The framework program is important as well as philosophy of an intended action. This philosophy is outlined in the program of the Law and Justice party quite clearly. It implies that the Law and Justice party wants to build solidary, not liberal Poland. But this program also includes more detailed suggestions concerning, for example, health service and actions necessary to take, so that Polish economy could still be based on coal-mining. So, the lack of preparation for governing will not appear again, as it was in 2005. At that time, the Law and Justice party was a party of only ‘a few issues’, today it has more sophisticated substantial facilities. Moreover, the political situation is more clear now.
– However, it still is not easier. You can say the ‘era of Tusk got bad features out of the society, created a system of collective bribery’. What should be done about it?
– I think so and I am also aware of the fact how difficult it will be to overcome the evil…..However, apart from the Law and Justice party, I cannot see any other political force or any other politician, except for Jarosław Kaczyński, who could do it. Maybe in 30 – 50 years somebody, like him, will appear… Now, this repair depends only on decision and consequence of the Law and Justice party.
– And, unfortunately, Professor says that: ‘Important issues should be discussed reasonably and sensibly’. More and discreetly about Smoleńsk?
– Definitely no. It concerns maintaining proportion and standard. Despite the allegations that the Law and Justice party was not and is not a party of one issue. There were many attempts to prove it, but there was not a success in going through media firewall. It was in the interest of the governmental group to reduce the Law and Justice party to the Smoleńsk issue. Regardless of everything, ‘Smoleńsk’ will remain the central, fundamental issue in Poland for a long time. I even think that these national tendencies among young people are related to it in some way. And, just regarding the young generation, the Law and Justice party should pursue a substantial policy, without any peculiarities, turning actions, without any dressing oneself up in other robes to imitate somebody, but a tough and consistent policy.
– Professor warns that the ‘Law and Justice party should not go in the direction of imitating the Civic Platform’. What does it mean?
– I warn against a situation in which we would accept the methods of the tacky Public Relations, used by the Civic Platform in the survey race. In my opinion, this delight with the effectiveness of building an image of Donald Tusk and his party was the reason of ideas of the rightist party about creating new, ‘more beautiful’ political parties, with leaders, who present themselves on TV very well.
– Does professor think that this ‘dilution’ of the rightist party because of other people leaving the Law and Justice party, resulted from the vanity of some politicians and it turned out as it is, politically unimportant later?
– Yes. This phenomenon seemed dangerous, when in 2010, after the presidential campaign the Law and Justice party was doomed to losses, when it was predicted that it would be a small political party. Then impatient young people started leaving, thinking, that motivated by popularity in media, they would create a kind of a realistic competition for the Law and Justice party and the Civil Platform party. Then it was quite dangerous for the rightist party, but it quickly turned out to be funny and childishly naive.
– Whereas, today’s political ideas of young people on the so-called extreme rightist party look quite serious. Is the real competition of the Law and Justice party growing?
– Indeed, the Law and Justice party is going to have a trouble, because it cannot push away young people, but it would be rational to attract and support them. I have always thought that the Polish youth is too calm, passive, not very ambitious. And, in my opinion, today the problem with the Polish youth is based on it more than on its extreme rightist sympathies. So, we should be not only glad with this development of national feelings. And much skill and political honesty are needed, so that this positive energy of Polish young rightist party would not change into chauvinism, but remain valuable patriotism.
– However, there are opinions that the weak point of the Law and Justice party is a lack of ability to speak to young people.
– Especially that the youth should be supported. The generation of heroes of ‘Solidarność’ should go away into a shadow, change into museum objects. There are so many things to do, that we must involve the elite of the Polish youth into the realization of the great Polish project.
– If we were successful, it would be a turning point in the latest history of Poland! It is going to be difficult.
– That’s true. We are going to take a national test. It is known, that we are not going to be successful in 100% percent, but we wish we were successful at least in 70%! We have a good example of Hungary as a support, and it also seems that in the recent years the Polish society has become matured. People do not believe in this nonsense any more, which has been said recently that, for example, the capital has no nationality, that it is not important who is the owner of media….Luckily, it seems that all these childish illnesses have passed.
– Also in the political class?
– And here positive phenomena appeared. The right party understood that it must get prepared better, that institutions and economy are important in Polish hands. There is also more clear polarization of the political arena.
– Is the real and thorough change in Poland and change of Poland real?
– This change is already taking place. People are slowly learning the fact that they are citizens. It is proved by millions of signatures collected in various important issues. All this happens outside the establishment parties, outside the formal politics. Now the Polish society has two possibilities: either it will choose continuation of the Civic Platform government or a definite change and then it will entrust the government to the Law and Justice party. There is also the third option – which cannot be excluded yet – that Poles will decide to be in ambiguity, inertia and consent to having their fate decided about by somebody else.