Posts Tagged ‘Poland’

Old president’s campaign derails

Monday, 25 May 2015

Duda elected president of Poland


Andrzej Duda in April 2013. Photo Piotr Drabik, (CC by 2.0).

All over Poland people got up, switched on their TV sets or radios, and over their morning cups of coffee heard that they had elected the opposition candidate, Andrzej Duda, to be president of Poland. Almost until the last moment, pollsters were predicting a victory for the incumbent, Bronisław Komorowki. But it was not to be. When the election news blackout was lifted at 22:30 exit polls indicated that the newcomer had secured a decisive 6% lead. Shortly before midnight Komorowski conceded defeat.

It had been an election largely fought on negative point scoring. Opponents of President Komorowski, accused him and the governing party, Civic Platform (Platforma Obywatelska) of employing communist-era officials in key government positions, turning a blind eye to fraud and corruption in high places, and preferring to ignore the problems of ordinary people. Opponents of Duda, ridiculed his membership of the Law and Justice (Prawo i Sprawiedliwość) party which is portrayed by the mainstream media, as a bunch of religious bigots obsessed with the circumstances of the Smolensk aeroplane crash which killed President Lech Kaczyński.

The danger in conducting negative campaigns is that while two candidates tear each other apart, a third can emerge quietly from the wings…  . And so it was that ageing rock musician, Paweł Kukiz, emerged as the surprise youth candidate and garnered over 20% of the vote in the first round of the elections. While Kukiz took no part in the second round, he and his supporters are already gearing up for the parliamentary elections due in October. It seems likely that neither Law and Justice, nor Civic Platform will gain an overall majority in the parliamentary elections and that there will be a coalition government.

Andrzej Duda, born 16 May 1972, is a lawyer and a Member of the European Parliament. He comes from Krakow, the son of Janina Milewska and Jan Tadeusz Duda. His wife, Agata Kornhauser, is a high school German teacher. His father-in-law is Julian Kornhauser, a well-known Polish-Jewish writer, translator and literary critic.

He began his political career with the now-defunct Freedom Union Party (Unia Wolnóści) in the early 2000s, but after the parliamentary elections in 2005, began his collaboration with the Law and Justice Party. In 2010, he was an unsuccessful candidate in the elections for the Mayor of Kraków, but was more successful in the 2011 parliamentary election, where he received 79,981 votes for the Kraków area, becoming a member of the Polish Parliament’s lower house, the Sejm. He did not complete his term, becoming elected in 2014 as a member of the European Parliament.

He was the official candidate of the Law and Justice party for the office of President of Poland in the 2015 Polish presidential elections. He won the election with 52% of the vote. He is President-elect of Poland and will take up the office of President on 6 August 2015.

The golden telescope

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Hong Kong tramway. Video by .

Michael Dembinski over at W-wa Jeziorki regularly experiences feelings of deja vu. He puts on a WWII GI’s soldier’s helmet and it feels very familiar. He sees a great open field in the middle of the great Polish plain and is suddenly transported to the American West. I suffer from something altogether much weirder.

In 1980, I was standing in Basle near the railway station looking out on to the town. It was not a particularly stunning view: some characteristically European roofs and advertising hoardings in the background, shops with windows full of goods in the middle distance, busy modern trams in the foreground. Then the feeling hit me, this could have been Poland if the boundary between the Soviet region of influence and the West’s had been drawn a couple of thousand miles to the East.

Today, the greyness characteristic of Poland in the 1970s and 80s has gone and a similar view can be seen: in Poznan, Wroclaw, Warsaw or Gdansk. So was I looking into a Philip Pullman Dark Materials Trilogy parallel universe where the betrayals at Tehran and Yalta had never happened, or was I being granted a view of the future?

I certainly do seem to get the occasional ‘flash forwards’. I remember reading the August 1981 Byte magazine. The whole issue was devoted to the research that had been done at Xerox Parc in Palo Alto into object-oriented programming, graphical user interfaces (GUI) and ‘what you see is what you get’ computing. Although the systems had been developed on big computers I remember being hit by an overwhelming feeling that in the future all ‘personal computers’ (the term had just been invented by IBM) would work like this. The first successful personal computer with a GUI, the Apple Mac, was actually launched in January 1984.

So why do I react so strongly to this short film about the Hong Kong tramway, the largest operator of double deck trams in the world? Is it because British cities could have been like this, if pro motor car interests had not succeeded in wiping out virtually all of the UK’s tramways in the 1950s and 60s? Or is it a glimpse into what Britain’s tramways might yet be like in the future?