Three Monkeys Online

A Curious, Alternative Magazine

Habemus Gubernaculum

A coalition government for Poland has finally been agreed. This time it even has a majority, as the LPR (League of Polish Families) got onside when (because?) an extra three ministries were created to ensure jobs for the boys – errr, a meaningful input from the coalition partners into matters of national policy. Thus, Roman Giertych, chief of the LPR (who had been sidelined in coalition negotiations not two weeks ago) is now minister for education. The “liberal” media is sniffy. Gazeta Wyborcza (6/5/06) writes:

Never before in the [17 year] history of the third Polish Republic has the minister for education been so ostentatiously devoid of qualifications.

There are many reasons to dislike Giertych – an odious man who took the trouble to remind his wife’s university examiner that she was married to him – but to complain that the new minister is “unqualified” shows a basic misunderstanding of democracy. Should only teachers be allowed to be ministers for education? Bankers – ministers for finance? Perhaps the ministry for justice should be reserved for a cop and a squaddie should be the minister for defence. Is “being elected” not qualification enough for public office?

Gazeta Wyborcza has shown a tendency of late to go overboard, weakening otherwise valid criticism. For example, on Friday 5th of May the front page news was that lots of members of Samoobrona (now in government) were bankrupt. The first sentence runs:

Although Samoobrona has 50 million zloties in its party account from loans, the budget subvention, and members’ subscriptions, its leading politicians, who have just taken power, are drowning in debt.

Is the paper trying to suggest that Samoobrona should dip into its subvention and subscriptions to dig its deputies out of financial holes? Can you imagine the squawking that would arouse?

If I were a partisan journalist, dedicated to turning public opinion against a party I did not like (not that I am for a minute suggesting the GW’s journalists are anything but strictly impartial), I’m not sure I would follow this strategy: everyone secretly loves a cad and a bounder and in Poland many people will identify with politicians who have money problems. Samoobrona claims, after all, to be sticking up for the little guy who has been steamrolled by the big bad (western) banks. And indeed, one deputy – clearly cuter than the Wyborcza journalists – simply says he lost track of his debts ten years ago, while others blame unscrupulous businessmen for their woes. The newspaper presents this as a damning indictment of Samoobrona. Many supporters will see it as evidence that Samoobrona are “our kind of guys.”

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