Poland: dueling superiorities

I like a line from an academic in this account of Bronislaw Komorowski’s (narrow) (apparent) victory in today’s runoff Polish presidential election. He says the confrontation between Komorowski’s Civic Platform and Jaroslaw Kaczynski’s Law and Justice party was a fight “between people who feel intellectually superior and people who feel morally superior.”

That’s approximate, of course: just for starters, people who feel intellectually superior tend to think their self-diagnosed wit gives them a moral edge too. But it encapsulates the differences between two centre-right parties outsiders have had a hard time distinguishing. Komorowski’s party — really the creature of its leaden but wily prime minister, Donald Tusk — is economic-conservative, limited-government, but pro-European and socially liberal. Kaczynski’s, which he co-led with his brother Lech who died in that spectacular airliner crash in Smolensk this spring, is socially conservative, obsessed with anti-communist witch hunting decades after the fact, and less interested in fiscal rigour. (I made my own best effort to distinguish the two parties in this 2007 account of an earlier election cycle.)

Komorowski was streets ahead of Kaczynski when the short campaign began, and blew most of that lead. He lost half the country, and  you can see which half in the electoral maps: the farmlands and the east, which look to Russia’s sphere of influence and don’t like it. The cities and the west, which look to Germany and the rest of Europe in a clear-eyed but broadly positive fashion, were ready to give Komorowski and Tusk a chance to work together.

Does this matter to Canada? Not much, not directly. But it will not go unnoticed in Jason Kenney’s office that those Poles who voted in Canada preferred Kaczynski.

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