News from Poland

by John O'Sullivan

My next Polish Diary will arrive later today. But one piece of political news is important enough to leap directly onto the front pages–i.e., the Corner and the International Herald Tribune. NR’s own Radek Sikorski–who reported Afghanistan, Angola, and the 1989 velvet revolutions for NR–has left the governing Law and Justice party and joined the opposition Civic Platform. Radek is a popular and respected (not always the same thing) figure in Polish politics–a former Defense Minister and Deputy Foreign Minister. Since an election is scheduled for October 21st, his crossing the floor is a serious blow to a government that was otherwise enjoying good prospects of reelection. Most political observers think that Radek will also switch from the Senate–a largely powerless body–to the Lower House. He has not yet said so. But if he does and if he wins, that would put him in the front line of Polish politics. A Civic Platform victory would put him in line for the foreign ministry; a defeat would make him a potential party leader. Both Law and Justice and the Civic Platform, by the way, are conservative parties. It’s hard to explain the differences between them without resorting to historical explanations. But each of them represents half of conservatism only. Someone who could meld the populism of the one with the sensible economics of the other would forge a party that could be nationally dominant for a generation. I should make absolutely clear that this is me speaking–and no one else. I’ll doubtless regret that boast when everything turns out differently.


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