Tuesday, 17 July 2012

PSLgate: We're not surprised - yet we should be.

Yesterday's revelations in Puls Biznesu that members of PSL (Polskie Stronnictwo Ludowe, the junior coalition partner) have been using public sector sinecures to feather their own nests was taken in its stride by most Poles. "It's something normal, to be expected - this is Poland, of course, sami swoi; jak nie wiesz o co chodzi, chodzi o kasę; ręka myje rękę; ryba psuje się od głowy etc etc etc".

Yet things have changed since the dark days of the Leszek Miller's rule in 2000-2004.

This evening, Marek Sawicki, has resigned as Minister of Agriculture, a post he held since 2007. PSL's leadership has noted that society will no longer accept such behaviour. Back in Leszek Miller's day, scandal broke after scandal with depressing regularity - yet no one stepped down - until Mr Miller was forced out of office by President Aleksander Kwaśniewski - who'd had enough of the man. A technocratic interregnum followed, with Marek Belka as premier, making a brave attempt to cleanse the Augean stables, before the Polish electorate voted in the Kaczyński twins on a wave of anti-corruption sentiment. As it turned out though, the Kaczyński twins formed a coalition which included Samoobrona - a party that was even dodgier than Miller's SLD.

Back to the present.

PSL is the great survivor of Polish politics. It has formed four of the seven government coalitions (albeit always as the junior partner) that have ruled Poland since its return to democracy in 1989/90. It has done so by eschewing ideology, and focusing on a no-holds-barred 'jobs for the boys' approach. Opinion polls usually show support for PSL running around 4%, just below the threshold for getting a party into Sejm. But at election time, the machine gets mobilised, and the party has always managed to get in.

 But the old order changeth, yielding to the new. I wrote about this change just ahead of the last parliamentary elections, showing how the suicide of Andrzej Lepper has thrown into sharp relief the old and the new ways.

Let's hope that the 'organs of chasing' (organy ścigania) do what we pay them to do and nab those kolesie that have been feasting themselves at the trough of public finance. Mister Śmietanko - we want to know what you have been up to.

In the meantime, Platforma Obywatelska, the senior government coalition partner, has a problem. What to do with PSL? Cover up to keep the coalition going? Or show the electorate that PO really cares about clamping down on corruption, thereby risking a rift in the coalition?

Sawicki has walked. Let's see what happens next.

Tomorrow I'm off to the UK for 12 days; I hope that on my return, the situation will have been cleared up and PSL will have cleansed its ranks. In the meanwhile, I thank God that Poland is less corrupt than the Czech Republic or Romania, let alone countries to the east.

[Link to Gazeta Wyborcza's excellent coverage of PSLgate here.]

This time last year:
Cycling the Vistula's right bank

This time five years ago:
Vrots Love


Anonymous said...

Electoral treshold is 5%...

Anonymous said...


If you want to be credible you should at least include a few words, even if cautiously chosen, about the Big Brother of the PSL - the PO.
PO or the 'People's' party, reminds me of the work 'People's' in the communist Polish Peoples Republic. Same style of deceit.
The PO is as corrupt and deceitful, full of nepotism and cronyism, as is the PSL.
Two of a kind, one samller, one just so much bigger.
The PO can get away with their machinations as they control the judiciary, the state media and have compliant friends in the right places.
If you want Poland to be Poland and not the IIIRP, have the courage to write the full truth boldly.

Michael Dembinski said...

@ anon:

"Four more years of cronyism! Nepotism! Rascalism! Of service to the interests!"

The words, you will recognise, of Homer Stokes, 'Friend of the little fella', who turned out to be an unpleasant racist.

Michael Dembinski said...

@ anonymous

Thanks - I've edited the text for the sake of clarity.

adthelad said...
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