Jan Nowak-Jezioranski: five pieces of advice for Poland

Jerzy Przystawa

Fragment of the commentary broadcasted on Catholic Radio Family, radio of the Wroclaw Archdiocese

For me Jan Nowak-Jezioranski was only a voice from far away for several years. I heard him in the noise of the jamming machines, desperately catching the fading waves. During the marshal law I printed and distributed the wonderful Polish readings - articles of the wartime Courier from Warsaw. They showed us the figure of the director of Radio Free Europe's Polish service, the hero of the Warsaw Rising, soldier of the Home Army, heroic messenger of Polish Government-in-exile in London to the fatherland, awarded with the Order Virtuti Militari.
History and historians will deal with the life and output of Jan Nowak-Jezioranski and they will find a proper place for him in the pantheon of outstanding Poles. Today he is 'the hero of the day'. We hear the information about his achievements and merits. But on the cover page the weekly 'Wprost', as the only periodical, reminded us of something that signals 'The will of Jan Nowak-Jezioranski' and quotes his 'Five pieces of advice for Poland', which was published on 27 October 2002. Two years ago Jan Nowak-Jezioranski put forward the following advice:
1. one-seat constituencies
2. creating new places to work
3. fight against corruption
4. economic liberty
5. public television
I think that all apologists for Jan Nowak-Jezioranski should make known this 'will for Poland' and reflect on it, especially this year, which is to be a year of great transformations. But nobody is keen on such an analysis, except 'Wprost'. Nobody wants to remind us of this will. I think it is worth looking at these demands and consider why they are not widely publicised in all media, which do not stop praising the merits of Jan Nowak-Jezioranski. As a matter of fact, most of the demands are ordinary: do not all politicians, leaders of all parties, promise to do their best for the unemployed and create new places to work? Do not all parties have the fight against corruption as their main motto? Does the demand for economic liberty cause any protests? Do not we want to have good public television? All these demands would be up-to-date and every representative of the present political elite is ready to support them. The real obstacle is, however, the only, the first and most important demand - one-seat constituency. Why is this demand of Jan Nowak-Jezioranski, which he mentioned first and most important, like a hot potato in the mouth and cannot be swallowed by politicians? Actually, it is a concrete, clear-cut and tangible demand. We know how to put it into practice and how to make it happen. Its realization would not cost a penny and would not require years of studies and preparation. There are good examples; such a system has been effective for hundreds of years in many countries in the world, first of all where Jan Nowak-Jezioranski spent several dozen years of his life - the United States of North America. The remaining four demands have not got such values. Everybody has been fighting against unemployment for 15 years and it is still increasing, putting us at the end of the list of European countries, just behind Slovakia. Naturally, the countries with one-seat constituencies - the USA, Great Britain, Canada - have unemployment rate below 5%. In Poland it is 20%. Even in India, another country with one-seat constituencies, unemployment is below 9%. We do not know any country with one-seat constituencies, which has unemployment rate less than 10%, so half the Polish rate! Perhaps the system of one-seat constituencies has something to do with this?
Corruption is not acceptable anywhere but Poland is at the top of the most corrupted countries. What can do done to limit corruption? Perhaps the key is the system of one-seat constituencies? No country with one-seat constituencies is placed on this disgraceful list near Poland! Before Jan Nowak-Jezioranski formulated his five demands we had explained for years how deep was the relationship between the party system and corruption and showed that the generating mechanism, which forces corruption, was exactly in the system of parliamentary elections!
The most important, simple and concrete demand of Jan Nowak-Jezioranski - one-seat constituencies - was not followed by his friends from Unia Wolnosci, Union for Freedom, nor by any left-wing party, nor politicians of Platforma Obywatelska, Citizen's Party, to my big surprise, the party which would seem to welcome the demands of Jan Nowak-Jezioranski as a gift from heaven! I watched the last interview with Jan Nowak-Jezioranski on TV. This 90-year-old Pole, summing up his life, said about his love, how he loved his wife, his dear ones. At the end of the interview he said, 'but the greatest love of my life has always been Poland'. At this moment his voice faded and I saw he was overcome by great, deep emotion and I saw tears in his eyes. I am sure that this was true and sincere. He did not formulate his programme for Poland in order to please his political friends in the right or the left wing. He truly proposed something what he regarded as most important and beneficial for the Fatherland: first of all - one-seat constituencies!

Editor: Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela", ul. 3 Maja 12, 42-200 Czestochowa, Polska
Editor-in-chief: Fr Jaroslaw Grabowski • E-mail: redakcja@niedziela.pl