Poland's `Moral Revolution' Founders on Sex Scandal, Nazi Flags
By Katya Andrusz
Dec. 14 (Bloomberg) -- The ``moral revolution'' promised by Poland's Kaczynski twins when they came to power a year ago is foundering amid a series of scandals surrounding allegations of sexual exploitation and neo-Nazi links.
The Kaczynskis' three-party coalition has been rocked by allegations that Deputy Prime Minister Andrzej Lepper, 52, and members of his Self Defense party demanded sexual favors in return for jobs -- they deny the charges -- and by reports that associates of another deputy prime minister, Roman Giertych, participated in a 2004 neo-Nazi rally.
The Kaczynskis -- President Lech and Prime Minister Jaroslaw, 57 -- swept into office pledging to stamp out corruption and reintroduce morality lost during communist rule. They spoke out against gays and in favor of families, tightened links to the Catholic Church, angered the European Union and widened a rift with Russia.
The recent charges lay them open to allegations of hypocrisy, said Krzysztof Bobinski of the Polish Institute of International Affairs in Warsaw. ``How can you have a moral revolution if there are people going around screwing their secretaries?''
The allegations also threaten the political stability of the nation of 39 million, the largest of the eight post-communist countries that joined the European Union two years ago.
`They'll Be Punished'
The Kaczynskis, Bobinski said, ``are just hoping the whole thing will go away, but they'll be punished at the next election.''
After the Law & Justice party, founded by the Kaczynskis, won the September 2005 elections, it formed a minority government, then joined forces with Self Defense and the Polish Families' League. Municipal ballots last month saw Law & Justice winning only in smaller towns, while its partners barely scraped 5 percent, giving all three an interest in ensuring the current government survives.
``The elections definitely brought the coalition parties closer together,'' said Radoslaw Markowski, director of the institute for political science at the Warsaw School of Social Psychology.
In a Dec. 1-4 survey of 1,015 adults for the Warsaw-based Centre for Public Research, Law & Justice trailed the opposition Citizens' Platform, 30 percent to 27 percent. Self Defense was backed by 4 percent, a drop of 3 percentage points from a month ago.
Alex Szczerbiak, a professor of politics at Sussex University in England, said Law & Justice believes it is fighting a battle to save Poland.
``They have the idea that corruption is endemic to the Polish state because of mistakes in its development since 1989,'' Szczerbiak said. ``They want to break the power of a corrupt network of politicians, businessmen, organized criminals and secret service staff.''
While the government has gained supporters among Catholics and some poorer Poles helped by increased social benefits, many educated Poles and the country's partners in the 25-member European Union are increasingly irritated. The Poles refused last month to lift a veto on trade talks between the EU and Russia. The Finnish government, which holds the EU's six-month rotating presidency, urged negotiations.
``This government's foreign policy is a disaster,'' said Markowski. ``Diplomacy with these people is very inflexible. They don't negotiate. Their economic policy is also catastrophic.''
The government has changed finance ministers four times, shelved most plans to cut taxes and will fail to lower the budget deficit by next year's deadline to meet the EU's conditions for adopting the euro.
Adding to concerns is the Jan. 10 departure of Leszek Balcerowicz, the central-bank governor, who has clashed with the Kaczynskis over his focus on putting budgetary discipline before social spending, and his opposition to government plans to add economic growth to the bank's mandate. President Kaczynski on Dec. 12 nominated Jan Smulicki, a little-known professor at the Warsaw School of Economics, to succeed Balcerowicz.
While Poland's unemployment rate dropped to near a six-year low in October, the decline stemmed largely from workers moving abroad in search of better-paid jobs.
``People are leaving Poland in droves,'' said Sabina Koziel, a 33-year-old trained as a policewoman, who left for the U.K. 16 months ago to work as a cleaner. ``There's no chance for any improvement in Polish politics I don't think, not at the moment.''
Besides the allegations against Self Defense officials, the Kaczynskis' allies in the Polish Families' League have taken a battering over reports that members of the All-Polish Youth, formerly headed by League Chairman Giertych, took part in a rally two years ago at which flags with the swastika symbol were waved and ``Sieg Heil,'' the Nazis' greeting, was shouted.
A youth activist was sacked as assistant to European Parliament deputy Maciej Giertych, father of the deputy prime minister, in response to the affair.
The League attacks gay rights, favors reintroducing the death penalty, and demands a complete ban on abortion. League member Miroslaw Orzechowski, the deputy education minister, has called for banning evolution from schools.
``Evolutionary theory is a lie,'' Orzechowski said in an Oct. 13 interview with the Gazeta Wyborcza newspaper. ``In my opinion this is a story, a piece of literature that could be used as background for a science-fiction film.''
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