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Sunday, October 09, 2005

Poland Votes, Chirac Wails

For those who are interested, Spiegel has a pretty good English-language article up about the Kaczynski brothers. The Polish election for President is today, and if Lech wins that one (it is probably going to a run-off on October 23), Jaroslaw will step down as prime minister - a post he won just a few weeks ago when their party won Parliament.

The Anchoress keeps writing that JP II's death will have consequences, and according to Spiegel, it already has in Poland:
Current candidate for president Lech Kaczynski discovered -- as justice minister under former Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek and then as mayor of Warsaw -- just how popular the fight against corruption and lawlessness is among Poles. Even now, many secret service and army members who were active under the communist regime are still in their old positions. Communist structures are still intact, and corruption and cronyism are part of the day-to-day.

And that, if the Kaczynski brothers get their way, will all change. They want to see a more Catholic and more traditional Poland protected by increased presidential authority and restrictions on former communists holding public office. Lech even wants to see much of his political crusade -- including laws infringing on the rights of homosexuals and other minorities -- written into the country's constitution. The twins want to see an unconditional national Catholicism.

It is a development that many analysts connect with the recent death of the Polish Pope John Paul II. The long, painful decline of the pope was accompanied by a new wave of spirituality and a reawakened interest in Catholicism -- especially among younger Poles. And the guidelines being followed by the Kaczynski brothers are also those of the deceased pope: anti-abortion, a traditional role for women and a strong emphasis on community.
Fortunately DU doesn't follow European news, or it would be in a state of hysterics. Poland seeks a national identity and a national ethos that will work for it, much to the august displeasure of Germany and the like. Germany and France fear Polish plumbers; Poland fears the desire of old Europe to bar the economic doors as it struggles to climb out of the Communist legacy.

And it's inevitable that Poland would seek its own path because the EU has degenerated into an undignified squabble over money, with the Chief Yawper being Chirac. This week Chirac tore into the EU government:
On Tuesday (4 October) French president Jacques Chirac stunned the commission by launching a scathing attack on the institution accusing it of being "disinterested" for not stepping in to protect France from Hewlett Packard's decision to axe over 1,200 jobs in the country.

"Is it normal for the commission to be disinterested in a problem?" said Mr Chirac adding "this is one of the reasons that explains the current rejection of Europe. It is a problem that must be looked at".

"The vocation of Europe and of European institutions is also, and above all, to defend Europe, to defend the economic, financial and social interests of Europe", the president declared.
Uh huh. I suppose Chirac wanted the EU government to threaten HP with blocking it from Euro-markets if it didn't promise not to lay off Frenchmen. When Chirac says "Europe", he means France, and Poland knows that. So Poland seeks its own way, much to the displeasure of countries like Germany and France. Schroeder is the same way. Fearing the competition posed by the eastern European countries' adoption of lower tax rates, they have both floated the idea of forcing those countries to adopt a tax policy less threatening to their own socialist economies.

Lech Kaczynski is actually the less pro-growth of today's candidates. His opponent, Donald Tusk, favors taking the economic brakes off by cutting tax rates, regulatory barriers and social programs more. I believe Tusk will win the presidency eventually, and once the Germans can figure out who is chancellor they will join in the censure of Poland. Who prevails in the Old Europe/New Europe economic battle will have everything to do with the future course of European history.

The battle here will be phrased as a social rights battle, but it is a battle about national philosophies rather than social rights. The bottom line is that France wants jobs, Germany wants jobs, and Poland wants jobs, and those in control in France and Germany think that the growth of pro-development policies in the eastern European countries pose a threat to their way of life.

The Poles have the inside track on jobs- they, unlike the western Europeans, are willing to WORK.

That's what scares the French and Germans the most- the Poles want work, not social programs.

In the UK today, almost the entire construction labor force are Poles.
The work harder, faster and are more economical.

New Europe is making it's presence felt.
Yup. That's it, but new investment in manufacturing, etc is diverting to eastern Europe too.

Merkel may have won out on the German chancellorship, but what really matters are the ministers.

If France and Germany succeed in throttling back the free-market movement in the Eastern European countries, the EU is in desperate trouble.
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