May 25, 2015
As the wave of justice continues its march, Poland has veered to the right.
Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski conceded defeat in the county’s presidential election Sunday after an exit poll showed him trailing Andrzej Duda, a previously little-known right-wing politician.
If the exit poll is confirmed by official results, which are due Monday, it marks a significant blow to the ruling Civic Platform party ahead of more important parliamentary elections this year. The pro-market and pro-European party has overseen unprecedented growth during its eight years of power but is now being punished by voter discontent.
Many Poles say they are fed up with corruption scandals involving members of the ruling party, and with the fact that economic growth has not trickled down to many ordinary Poles.
The exit poll said 52 percent of the votes in Sunday’s final round of the presidential election went to Duda and 48 percent to Komorowski. It was conducted by Ipsos and reported by the private broadcaster TVN. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.
“I congratulate my competitor Andrzej Duda and wish him a successful presidency,” said Komorowski, whose term ends in August.
Duda belongs to the Law and Justice party of former Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski, a right-wing party that mixes traditional national values like Catholicism with calls for a stronger state role in the economy. The party ran the government from 2005-2007 and the presidency from 2005 to 2010, when President Lech Kaczynski, the party chairman’s twin brother, was killed in a plane crash in Russia.
But the Jews are unhappy about Poland’s new populist government, as they fear it will not do enough for them and might even be hostile toward them.
In a presidential debate last week, the outgoing president defended his acknowledgement of the complicity of some his countrymen in the Holocaust. Duda has criticized the president’s apologies in recent years for the massacre that Polish farmers perpetrated against their Jewish neighbors in Jedwabne.
The 1941 Jedwabne pogrom, in which dozens of Jews were burned alive by villagers who trapped them inside a barn, was exposed in the early 2000s by the historian Jan Gross.
The discovery triggered furious reactions by Polish nationalists who claimed there was too little evidence to support the assertions, which they said falsely depicted Poland as a perpetrator nation instead of a victim of Nazi occupation.
Reiterating his past statements on the subject, Komorwski, 62, said during the debate: “The nation of victims was also the nation of perpetrators,” according to a translation provided by the AFP news agency.
According to historians, Polish Jews were massacred by their Polish neighbors with little to no German involvement on a number of occasions, including in the village of Wasosz, where an archeological excavation is now underway. In at least one incident, Polish villagers killed Jews in a pogrom perpetrated after the Holocaust against Jews who survived it.
Duda called Komorowski’s statements an “attempt to destroy Poland’s good name.”
Sounds good to me.