Politics in Poland is an everyday fact of life – everyone is into politics, and everyone has an opinion on what this bloody government is doing or rather not doing, and why all of us have to be so blind as to time and again elect the wrong people to run the country. Yes, the Polish are never happy with their government. The Polish are never satisfied with the improvements or changes for the better – in the economy, everyday life, employment or any other aspect of the society as a whole. The post-1989 political climate in Poland when the communists gave up their long-established and well-protected party trenches is a shambles – there are those who propose the nation continues on a path to economic and social development without the need to eradicate communist activists, and those who claim that without a thorough purge of the society of those who had served the foreign powers for years the country will not be able to thrive.
Faced with such an intense power struggle between conflicting ideological mindsets, politics would appear to be an area ventured into by fools only or those looking to destroy their reputations. Politics is dirty in any country, and those entering the realm of working for the benefit of their own country need to be thick-skinned and robust characters, capable of taking the frequent criticism and scoffing, while still being able to do things that, although unpopular with some parts of the society, still need to be done to push the country to a next level.
By the look of it, Poland’s political system seems to be pluralistic, with any party allowed to enter the stage. In fact, however, there are two major and conflicting sets of views which drive the behavior of those who seek the splendor of serving their country. The one is the strong anti-communist sentiment attracting mostly those hurt by the previous system and looking for ways to make their long-time suffering, both mental and physical, good – this ideology mostly attracts people in their fifties and sixties, disappointed with the collapse of the welfare state. The other is the pro-European and entrepreneurial, based on the concept of self-made man and personal independence and accountability, mostly attracting the young and open-minded part of the society. Becoming a politician in this highly bipolar situation requires either gut or is a direct effect of specific delusions.
If you wish to give it a try, though, start by clearly defining your political views and beliefs (poglądy i przekonania polityczne), and look for parties (partie) where you could easily express those. Once you identify an organization that shares your views, apply for membership (wniosek o przyjęcie do partii) and start your way up by getting to know people – networking is almost everything. It’s mostly who you know, rather than what you do or can do. Once a member of the party of your choice work your path towards the parliamentary elections by making yourself known and recognizable through a variety of political or social initiatives, best if serving the entire nation. Be prepared, however, that your ideas will be thwarted or downright rejected by senior members of the party who will be your opponents in running for the Sejm (lower chamber of the Parliament) or Senate (higher chamber). If you can make your presence a robust one, however, you can expect to be elected a member of parliament (poseł) or senator, and once an MP you can actually expect to get involved in the works of the parliament. If you are a member of a winning party and your party leader becomes the prime minister (premier) they may want you on their team – this is when your skills and abilities can come in handy – the PM may want to nominate you to run a ministry (ministerstwo).
On the downside, however, bear in mind that Poland is a nation with highly divergent views on how the country should be run, so whichever side you happen to be on, there will always be a strong opposition that will strive to make your life miserable – make sure you have the gut to take the offence and slander that will become your daily bread, with bad or even worse news coming in from all directions and media. You will have to face up to the fact that even the brightest ideas will not be shared by the entire population, with backward and unprogressive views still promoted by a large portion of the society.
It is truly a hard job to be a politician in Poland, with a high level of social disappointment with politics and the way the country is managed, or anti-managed, as some would have it. You need to be prepared to embark on a tough and difficult journey to improve the lives of ordinary citizens who will never express their gratitude. Are you sure you are ready to take on this challenge?
Political Tragedies of Poland: The Katyń Massacre and The Smoleńsk Plane Crash
The Katyn Massacre marked one of the most notorious and terrible acts of World War II taken by the Soviet Union against Poland. Exactly seventy years ago, more than 20,000 Polish officers and others were massacred by the Soviets in the Katyn forest. The anniversary of this massacre was very important to the Polish people, and Polish President Lech Kaczynski and a delegation of many top leaders in Poland were to attend a ceremony in the Katyn forest commemorating the massacre. However, the plane they were traveling on crashed mysteriously on its approach to the airport in Smolensk killing all ninety-six people on board, including President Kaczynski.
There are many questions surrounding the crash, and no mechanical problems were reported. Weather conditions were poor and Russian air traffic controllers told the plane several times not to land because of heavy fog. Current investigations into the reasons for the crash are focused on why the pilot did not heed the warnings of the air traffic controllers. In 2008, the same pilot flew the president to Georgia, and the president demanded he land even though weather conditions were poor.
The pilot instead diverted to Azerbaijan, and it was reported in Polish newspapers that the president said: "If someone decides to become a pilot, he cannot be fearful" (Levy). The pilot was reportedly depressed after this incident, and his state of mind during the time of the crash is currently being investigated. No matter what the cause may be, the fact remains that almost one hundred of Poland’s most important political leaders died in the crash. Russian leaders have expressed deep sympathy for the accident and have pledged to do everything they can to help in the investigation. President Kaczynski was a controversial figure in his life because of his conservative actions, but few question his commitment to his country.
Dozens of world leaders will be attending his funeral in Poland, though some have had to cancel, ironically because of the poor flying conditions currently caused by volcanic ash from Iceland.
You can find more (archived) information about Poland and Polish politics on https://polanda.com/