A blog by an American expatriate living in the heart of New Europe

"It's a lateral transfer" -- George W. Bush, 43rd President of the United States
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  Warsaw, Poland

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Thursday, August 30, 2007

Would Poland be better off with Civic Platform?

Time Magazine on Polish politics.

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How does capitalism work again?

Bloomberg on how PiS plans to screw those Poles who first bought into capitalism.

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Sunday, August 26, 2007

Sunday Vista Blogging XVIII - The Great Wall of China

Gus for WS
Great Wall, Juyongguang section

Gus for WS
Great Wall, Juyongguang section

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Saturday, August 25, 2007

Birthplace of Solidarity to die?

The EU is demanding the Gdańsk Shipyard pay back state subsidies. If it does so, it could go out of business for good.

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Kaczyńskis spying on journalists

It has been reported that former Interior Minister Janusz Kaczmarek, in secret testimony to Poland's parliamentary commission on the secret services, revealed that journalists' phones were tapped on the orders of PM Jarosław Kaczyński and Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro.

Can elections come too soon?

Sunday, August 19, 2007

No early elections?

Zbigniew Religa could be Poland's next prime minister

Warsaw Station has learned that parties currently not in power - Civic Platform (PO), the coalition Left and Democrats (LiD) and the Peasants' Party (PSL) - are working on a proposal for a government of national unity, to be led by famous heart surgeon Zbigniew Religa. Religa is the current health minister and is not affiliated with any party. The proposal would put members of all parties willing to join the national unity government into Poland's various ministerial positions

The proposal will be extended to former members of the ruling coalition - Samoobrona (SO) and the League of Polish Families (LPR) - as well as to the current (quasi-) governing party, Law and Justice (PiS). It is expected that SO and LPR will accept the proposal, while PiS is expected to reject it, making them the sole party in opposition, after 2 years of governing as the party with the largest number of representatives in Poland's parliament.

Who benefits?

The logic goes that early elections could only benefit PiS. Though PO leads PiS in the polls, it is unlikely that they will have enough support to gain a majority of representatives. To do so, they would have to form a coalition with either LiD (offending their anti-leftist supporters) or with PiS (offending their liberal-economic supporters). Also, the polls may not be as reliable as PO hopes. In the 2005 elections, polls famously predicted that PO would win.

If early elections were to occur, Samoobrona and LPR look to be left out of parliament entirely, or, if they stand as a coalition (the appropriately- monikered LiS or "fox"), to be reduced to a minority fringe element in parliament.

LiD could potentially gain seats, but are averse to the idea of the economically liberal PO gaining power - especially if it ends up teaming up with PiS.

Though PiS is likely to lose a few seats in parliament with early elections, it will still hold enough to be an extremely powerful opposition party, especially with Lech Kaczyński holding the presidency. For this reason, and because PiS is expected to be able to bring out large numbers of its rural supporters to the polls, PiS will push for early elections.

A doable deal?

I doubt such an arrangement is achievable, since Polish parties as a general rule are unable to agree amongst themselves for very long. Could opposition to PiS be such a unifying force that nearly all of the parties in parliament could agree to work together? Not for very long, certainly.

How such a political coup could take place without early elections is also somewhat of a mystery - as far as I know nothing like it has ever occurred in modern Polish politics.

But that doesn't mean it wouldn't be a good thing. Poland has been absent of any type of productive politics - horsetrading, compromise, and the creation of policies and legislation that garner wide public support - for a long time. A government of national unity could lead to such a welcome change. It just doesn't seem likely it will ever happen.

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Is Detroit "coming back"?

Mike Lyndon thinks so.

It's been "coming back" since the mid-1990s though. When will it finally be back?

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Sunday Vista Blogging XVII - Terracotta Warriors

Gus for WS
Terracotta Warriors, Xi'an, China

Gus for WS
Terracotta Warriors, Xi'an, China

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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

New Station resident

Warsaw Station welcomes Laika - the Station's new resident space cadet.

Gus for WS
Ain't she cute?

Cross posted (with commentary and another pic) at p3

More pics here


Monday, August 13, 2007

Sunday Vista Blogging XVI - Everest

One day (or several months...) late. So what? It's August.

Gus for WS
Mount Everest, halfway between Basecamp 1 and Basecamp 2

Friday, August 10, 2007

Times they are a-changin'

A couple of days ago, some racists assholes vandalized about 100 gravestones in an historic Jewish cemetery in Częstochowa. They spray-painted them with swastikas and "SS" marks. That, of course and unfortunately, is hardly a new development. However, instead of the usual inaction from the local community, 20 students and the town's mayor went and helped clean it up.

"The fact is, there is anti-Semitism everywhere. But what is also important is the reaction of the rest of society," [Poland's chief rabbi Michael] Schudrich said. "Too often the rest of society tolerates these things. But in this case, the mayor and the young people didn't sit at home and wait for someone else to come clean it up. They came out and made a physical - not just verbal - reaction."

Perhaps its overdue, but it is a step forward.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

New elections - Yipee!

That's right, we'll have fresh elections in October folks. And just as politics in this country were becoming so boring.

We know this, apparently, since the opposition leader and the president have agreed that new elections are "unaviodable".

So, how far back is this going to push preparations for Euro 2012?

If the duck can be beaten, it might be worth it. But can he?

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

That's my city


Today we ought to think about...


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