John Helmer: Polish President Komorowski’s Defeat is a Blow to the War with Russia Party,

Posted on by

By , the longest continuously serving foreign correspondent in Russia, and the only western journalist to direct his own bureau independent of single national or commercial ties. Helmer has also been a professor of political science, and an advisor to government heads in Greece, the United States, and Asia. He is the first and only member of a US presidential administration (Jimmy Carter) to establish himself in Russia. Originally published at

Four out of five Polish voters casting ballots in Sunday’s first-round presidential election were holding their noses. But what they want to say won’t be clear until the second round on May 24; maybe not until the parliamentary election in six months’ time. What is already clear is that the Poles have not been persuaded into voting for a candidate promising to go to war in the Ukraine or on the Russian border. Two displays of American military force in Poland – the armoured column which crossed the country at the end of March, and the portcall of the US Navy destroyer, USS Jason Dunham, at Gdynia last week, backfired by increasing voter insecurity and spreading protest.

Bronisław Komorowski, the incumbent president representing the Civic Platform (PO) party, won 33.77%. He lost to Andrzej Duda (centre) of the Law and Justice party (PiS), with 34.76%. They must repeat the contest on Sunday week. Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz, representing a parliamentary majority for PiS, is also the loser from the size of the anti-CO vote, and from the reluctance of the Poles to vote at all.

 

The turnout figure was as much of a surprise as Komorowski’s defeat. Just 49.4% of registered voters cast ballots; this is significantly lower than in Polish presidential elections for the past . It is also one of the lowest turnout results in the entire western alliance. The Pew Research Center in Philadelphia reported on May 5 this comparison of turnout rates for the most recent elections on .

turmout polish

Source: Pew Research Center calculations, based on data from International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, European Election Database, United States Elections Project, House Clerk's office, and various national election authorities. Note: In some countries, the estimated voting age population is smaller than the estimated number of registered voters. *National law makes voting compulsory. In addition, one Swiss canton has compulsory voting.

Among the runners-up and also-rans in Sunday’s Polish election, Paweł Kukiz, a former pop singer, won 20.8%. Three others, who have been considered in Moscow to be relatively pro-Russian and against sanctions, drew a total of 7.5%.

The consensus of Polish political analysts is that Komorowski lost the vote by a display of personal arrogance on television and campaign stupidity on the ground. According to Warsaw academic, Radoslaw Markowski, voters have punished Komorowski rather than favoured Duda. Before the balloting began, Markowski had taken sides against Duda, that he was making promises that “would even ruin the (much larger) German budget!”

Komorowski has been trying to eat humble pie on Polish television this week after his campaign director reported the president was violently angry at Sunday’s result. The Polish daily Wyborcza had wanted to make Komorowski its ‘Man of the Year 2015’ during a ceremony planned for this Friday, May 15. The paper has now the event will be “postponed for a later date”. Wyborcza is not a pro-Russian newspaper. Its selection for last year’s Man of the Year was Mikhail Khodorkovsky.

The Sunday vote is a disaster for Siklebaum; that’s Mr and Mrs Sikorski. Radosław Sikorski, the ex-Polish foreign minister, who is currently the PO party’s speaker of the Sejm (parliament), has been one of the loudest advocates of Polish military support for Kiev and US and NATO force reinforcements in Poland; but he has been losing domestic voter support. For that story, read . The election outcome for Komorowski, and the threat to the PO’s majority in parliament, have diminished Sikorski’s survival chances even further.

Sikorski’s wife, Anne Applebaum, missed the shift in Polish support against her and her husband’s position entirely. On Sunday she that turnout was running in her favour. “Huge queue to vote in Polish presidential elections at London embassy. Looks like an hour wait.”

One of Sikorski’s speechwriters, Charles Crawford, is a former UK ambassador to Warsaw and advisor to the security services on what he “senior operational experience in the diplomatic and policy aspects of the post-Cold War transition process in Russia.” This week he demonstrated how out of touch he is. “The good news just keeps rolling in,” he at first on Sunday. “The #Polish post-communist left party SLD has crashed to 2.4% of the vote!”. Then he this advertisement for his consulting expertise: “Haha never believe opinion polls.”

Russian analysts in Mosow are reticent in interpreting the Polish vote outcome. Vadim Trukhachev, a Central European affairs expert at the Russian State Humanitarian University in Moscow, comments that even if the immediate result may have surprised the west, the outcome isn’t in doubt: “Poland has always been the most anti-Russian country in Central Europe, and that is confirmed by the current voter choice. If Komorowski wins [the second round], from the point of view of relations with Russia everything will remain the same. If Duda wins, then the relationship will only become worse.” According to Yury Kvashnin, head of European Union studies at the Institute of World Economy and International Relations in Moscow (IMEMO), for Russia Komorowski is “not the worst option.”

Komorowski alienated domestic voters with television performances like this one. Having difficulty with a reporter’s question, in front of live and television audience he said: “I refuse to cooperate with you”. Watch the full interview, and listen carefully around minute 2:00.

In the less inhibited internet media, screen shots of Komorowski’s public displays were turned into caricatures of Poland’s worst enemy:

Polish enemy

 

A technical analysis of Polish voter turnout, in 2012, confirms that sitting and waiting is a type of protest, but with significant differences between Poland’s regions. According to Mariusz Mazurkiewicz, in 2010 three times the number of voters who sat out the first presidential round voted for the second-place getter in the second round than for the first-place getter.

In the Polish diaspora there is still the conviction that Komorowski represents “rational Poland”, Duda “radical Poland”, and that Komorowski will win. The difference between the two, according to , Professor of Politics at the University of Sussex, has little to do with the Ukraine conflict or the military threat which the Sikorski couple have been whipping up in the London and Washington press.

There is no reliable forecast for the outcome this time, according to Polish analyst Stanislas Balcerac. He points out that the electoral map is split geographically between the east, which went for Duda, and the west for Komorowski.

election Source:

According to Balcerac, “the regions voting for Duda are more or less the regions making up Poland as it was before September 1939. The regions voting for Komorowski are more or less those areas gained after the war and populated by diverse populations. They are relatively rootless as they were moved there more or less by force from what used to be Polish Ukraine and elsewhere. Warsaw votes rather for Komorowski,” Balcerac adds. “No wonder, with all those civil servants there living off the taxpayers’ money. Duda is from the regions, from Krakow. People there are tired of the old nomenklatura, which helps itself and gets in the way of everything.”

Balcerac points out that although Duda started the campaign on an aggressively military note, he changed his tune as voter sentiment became clearer to him. “Duda was pro-Maidan in the past. But this winter he modified his stance. In February he said the NATO alliance was manipulating both Ukraine and Poland, and playing Warsaw in the same way as it was Kiev. On March 20 Duda said that Poland should not send arms to Ukraine. If Poland did, he said the arms ‘would shoot [Poland] itself in the knee.’”

In the run-up to Sunday’s vote, US military displays in Poland, and the of a $5 billion price-tag for Polish government procurement of the Patriot missile system, have failed to win votes. The “Dragoon Ride”, a US armoured column accompanied by helicopters, crossed Poland from northeast to southwest, on March 29 and 30. Read more here.

Between May 8 and 11, the US Navy’s missile destroyer, USS Jason Dunham, was docked at Gdynia port, and Komorowski went on board to give a speech on Friday. In an election , the Dunham’s commanding officer announced: “I am extremely glad we were able to take advantage of these opportunities, especially hosting President Komorowski aboard. Extending the diplomatic arm of the United States to forge these strong bonds with our allies is one of the most honorable and enjoyable facets of naval service.”

fw65466
Source:

Voter turnout was several points higher in Gdynia than the national average. But Balcerac says this reflects local loyalties and PO party patronage, not US influence. “The 3-city area of Gdynia, Sopot and Gdansk is the cradle of the current governing party. [Former prime minister Donald] Tusk lives in Sopot, and many other party bigwigs live in these three neighbouring towns.” The US Navy effect “was neutral on the existing or already decided voting preferences.”

The view from Moscow, according to Trukhachev, is that Sunday’s results “were expected. Into the second round go Komorowski, the man showing us some sympathy, and Mr Duda, the frank Russophobe. The results correlate well with the attitude of Poles towards Russia. All the polls show the threat from the Russian side is believed by about 80% of Poles. In addition, Paweł Kukiz, who finished third , also doesn’t have a special love towards Russia, but on the other hand, during the election campaign he was strongly opposed to the legitimization of [Ukrainian fascist Stepan] Bandera in Ukraine.”

Speaking about the future for Russian-Polish relations, Kvashnin of IMEMO says: “In 2010, relations between Russia and Poland were very tense, especially after that memorable plane crash. And with the advent of Komorowski [relations] normalized and were relatively normal, so to speak, up to the events in Ukraine. I believe it is still possible to find a common language, but everything very much will depend on how the Ukrainian crisis develops.”

“My personal feeling,” responds Balcerac, “is that Russian analysis of Poland is outdated. Old allies were partially bought off with dollars…Other presumed allies like [Janusz] Korwin-Mikke and [Janusz] Palikot are nut cases, cabaret artists. Not much loss there. The future of Polish foreign relations must be based on a rational assessment of whether Poland wants to see bloodshed in Europe in the name of a few Ukrainian oligarchs wanting to consolidate their power. Now that the European Union funds are slowly drying up and the employment level does not go up — with 3 million Poles working abroad — Komorowski hasn’t much to offer except for ‘continuity’ – that’s five more years of the same old story. Many people want some hope in Poland without being forced to be migrant workers in the UK to survive. Duda is young and dynamic. New face, new hopes.”

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

46 comments

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      What constitutes “right mind?” War profiteers is the answer. People say a real draft would stop wars, but war profiteers are subhuman. Their own children are commodities. Only a war tax would work.

    2. Pepsi

      Reactionary clowns who like to be on the good side of NATO. When their corruption and participation in scams comes to light, they get extra help avoiding punishment.

    3. vidimi

      those with no skin in the game but stand to win big.

      “let’s you and him fight”

  1. mf

    I stopped taking most of this website seriously a while ago. But now I am gone for good. This is peak garbage. Peak left wing lunatic fringe, and ignorant about the subject matter as well. The so called right wing in Poland, which the winner of this (first round) represents is more, not less anti-Russian.
    And, even more to the point, Poland as a country is not anti-Russia per se, just has long experience with the nature and practice of Russian regimes.

    1. lolcar

      Really ? This fairly measured take on the political scene in Poland is what constitutes to you “peak left wing lunatic fringe”. Did we read the same article ?

    2. Jackrabbit

      We stopped taking comments like yours seriously a while ago. Every passive-agressive mf that proclaims “I am gone for good” elicits a chuckle.

    3. Massinissa

      Look, you never comment here so we dont even know who you are. I hope you dont expect us to miss you.

      1. OIFVet

        He drops by occasionally to complain about how very biased NC is and to cry in his pierogi about millenia-long russkie oppression of the noble freedom loving polanders. That oppression apparently includes the never ending wars of conquest launched by Poland on Russia in the 16th and 17th century, until Peter the Great and the Cossacks put an end to Polish expansionism for good. They have nursed hurt feelings and throwing temper tantrums ever since, what with it being hard to give up on delusions of grandeur for eing a second fiddle to the power of the day.

        1. ds

          You forgot about the Polish invasion of Russia in 1918, after Lenin granted Poland independence. Poland also signed an alliance with Germany against Russia in the 1930s, only to be betrayed later. During Germany’s invasion of Poland, and the government collapsed, Russia occupied the Eastern end. There was no resistance, as the Polish commanders told Polish troops not to offer resistance. After the war, the emigre population tried to equate Russia with Germany as equal aggressors
          I never understood Poland, how can a people be so delusionally reactionary and impoverished, proud but no accomplishments? Poland was the most backward of the Communist countries, but it wasn’t because of russia’s large tech and resource transfers…
          I think Polish suffer from low self-confidence, like the little boy getting bullied by the popular (Western Euro) people, only to keep sucking up to them. If Poles couldn’t export their mass poverty to the West, about 20 percent of Polish GDP would erase from the lack of remittances.

          1. Robert Dudek

            Wtf, backwards compared to Albania, Romania, Bulgaria? I understand critizing Polish attitudes towards Russia (I do the same), but this post amounts to a bunch of ethnic slurs. Shame on Yves for nodding approvingly.

            I won’t even delve too deeply into Polish contributions – I’ll only mention a “minor” figure or two like Copernicus and John Paul II, both of whom had a major historical impact.

            1. Minh

              In the time of Copernicus Poland was much bigger union of Prussia Poland and Lithuania. The man himself is half Polish half Prussian and his motherside bloodline gave him the education rather Prussian. (19 February 1473 – 24 May 1543
              Toruń (Thorn),
              Frombork (Frauenburg),
              Prince-Bishopric of Warmia,
              Royal Prussia, Kingdom of
              Poland

            2. OIFVet

              I agree Robert, Poland was and is more developed than Albania, Bulgaria and Romania. Culturally and economically. It is definitely legitimate to go after its foreign policy but it is a low blow to call it backward. Poland seems to think that Russophobia is a viable foreign policy and that’s pretty much insane, IMO. I won’t pretend to like Poland, I don’t. I think its policies (and those of the Baltics) are servile to the US and NATO neocons and increase the likelihood of war, and I am not down with that. FWIW my native Bulgaria’s elites are just as insane and servile as Poland’s, and I don’t like it any more than I like Poland’s.

          2. vidimi

            i’m not sure how you would qualify poland being the most backward of the communist countries. if anything, they were one of the best off, after the USSR and yugoslavia. yet the poles perceive themselves as its greatest victims.

          3. Krzys

            This is a collection of outright lies. Pilsudski attempted to destroy Russian imperialism. Poland did not sign anti-Russian pact with nazi Germany. Hitler tried to convince Poland to join against Russia, but the polish govt. refused and decided ( stupidly) to fight. Soviet Russia conspired with nazi Germany’s to start ww2 and then invaded Poland, Romania, the baltics and Finland. Once there, it instituted massive terror including mass shootings of civilians and pow’s running into hundreds of thousands.

            1. OIFVet

              Soviet Russia conspired with nazi Germany’s to start ww2

              Got link to back this up? The Soviets proposed anti-Hitler alliance to the British and to the French, but Poland vetoed it because it is …Poland. Revisionism is another thing about Poland that irks those who care about historical facts.

                1. OIFVet

                  I don’t see the part where nazi Germany and the Soviets conspired to start WW2. In the run up to Molotov-Ribbentrop, the Poles vetoed anti–German alliance proposed by the SU to France and Germany. Lloyd George’s reaction at the time (April 1939):

                  “If we are going in without the help of Russia we are walking into a trap. It is the only country whose arms can get there…. If Russia has not been brought into this matter because of certain feelings the Poles have that they do not want the Russians there, it is for us to declare the conditions, and unless the Poles are prepared to accept the only conditions with which we can successfully help them, the responsibility must be theirs.”

                  Source: ‘Origin Of The Second World War’ by A.J.P. Taylor

                  By all objective standards WW2 began in Munich in 1938, a meeting that excluded the Soviets. The Brits and the French sold out Czechoslovakia (a Soviet and French ally) for “peace in our times”. BTW, Poland got a chunk of Czechoslovakia (Zaolzie) after Hitler had helped himself to the rest. Polish claims on Czechoslovak territory were explicitly supported by Hitler during the negotiations in Munich…. It appears to me that Poland and Germany became aggressors long before Molotov-Ribbentrop supposedly conspired to start WW2.

                  Another passage from Taylor:

                  “However one spins the crystal and tries to look into the future from the point of view of 23 August 1939, it is difficult to see what other course Soviet Russia could have followed. The Soviet apprehensions of a European alliance against Russia were exaggerated, though not groundless. But, quite apart from this – given the Polish refusal of Soviet aid, given too the British policy of drawing out negotiations in Moscow without seriously striving for a conclusion – neutrality, with or without a formal pact, was the most that Soviet diplomacy could attain; and limitation of German gains in Poland and the Baltic was the inducement which made a formal pact attractive.”

                  Like I said earlier, Russophobia ain’t a viable foreign policy…

                  1. Krzys

                    No, Poland wouldn’t (willingly) allow Russian troops on its soil since things like that happened even before the war:

                    which only got confirmed after the invasion when the Russians proceeded to murder hundreds of thousands of civiloans and POW’s.

                    As to zaolzie, yes Poland had a dispute with CZand stupidly helped itself to a small part.However unlike Russia, it didnt resort to mass murder to solidify its claim.

                    1. OIFVet

                      Prime example of a self-fulfilling prophecy, one that Poland is at least partly responsible for (Lloyd George agreed, after all). And these days history is on path to repeat itself, again. And Poland might learn, again, that Anglo-Saxons always fight to the last Slav. A lesson the Ukrainians are in the process of learning.

          4. Demeter

            Do you have any concept of how many Poles emigrated?

            Anyone who had the guts and a little money left before 1924, when the US anti-immigration act closed the borders to Central Europeans:

            “The Immigration Act of 1924, or Johnson–Reed Act, including the National Origins Act, and Asian Exclusion Act (Pub.L. 68–139, 43 Stat. 153, enacted May 26, 1924), was a United States federal law that limited the annual number of immigrants who could be admitted from any country to 2% of the number of people from that country who were already living in the United States in 1890, down from the 3% cap set by the Immigration Restriction Act of 1921, according to the Census of 1890. It superseded the 1921 Emergency Quota Act. The law was primarily aimed at further restricting immigration of Southern Europeans[who?] and Eastern Europeans[who?].[citation needed] In addition, it severely restricted the immigration of Africans and largely prohibited the immigration of Arabs, East Asians, and Indians. According to the U.S. Department of State Office of the Historian the purpose of the act was “to preserve the ideal of American homogeneity”.[1] Congressional opposition was minimal.” wikipedia

            “Polish Americans are Americans who are of total or partial Polish descent. There are an estimated 10 million Polish Americans, representing about 3.2% of the U.S. population. Polish Americans are the largest European ethnic group of Slavic origin in the United States, second largest Central and Eastern European group and the eighth largest immigrant group overall.” wikipedia

            There was a literal brain drain, then two world wars that destroyed Poland. I thank God every day that my ancestors were lucky enough and brave enough to get out. It takes a lot of guts and gumption to leave for a foreign land. I just hope I can do that, now that the US is turning into the fascist state that it is…or at least, get my offspring out.

            1. jrs

              Yes, people fled plenty of countries including Russia itself to avoid their teenagers being drafted in their wars and that makes up a lot of U.S. immigrants. Anyone who suggests a draft in the U.S. do you think people thought they could win against the Tsars (say by having anti-war demonstrations perhaps?) or just left. Duh. Of course those Tsars were eventually ousted but only much later.

        2. Demeter

          Mój Boże! How can one cry in a pieróg? Are you confusing a small dumpling with the Cajun pirogue?

          1. OIFVet

            Cry over pierogi then. Happy now? Could have said zurek or beet borsht, I just happen to like pierogi.

    4. JerseyJeffersonian

      mf,

      Quoting from your post:

      “The so-called right wing in Poland, which the winner of this (first round) represents is more, not less anti-Russian”.

      Quoting from Helmer’s post:

      The view from Moscow, according to Trukhachev, is that Sunday’s results “were expected. Into the second round go Komorowski, the man showing us some sympathy, and Mr Duda, the frank Russophobe [my emphasis]…”.

      Guess you must have missed that part, eh? This is understandable… if you aren’t really reading the post for content. But then, that’s kind of the point of the exercise, yes?

    5. vidimi

      thanks for not bothering to actually read helmer’s article. that duda is a rabid russophobe and would be worse for russia is mentioned twice.

    6. MRW

      @mf,

      The so called right wing in Poland, which the winner of this (first round) represents is more, not less anti-Russian.

      Which is precisely what the author writes as Russia’s view, or did you not read that far?

      Russian analysts in Mosow are reticent in interpreting the Polish vote outcome. Vadim Trukhachev, a Central European affairs expert at the Russian State Humanitarian University in Moscow, comments that even if the immediate result may have surprised the west, the outcome isn’t in doubt: “Poland has always been the most anti-Russian country in Central Europe, and that is confirmed by the current voter choice. If Komorowski wins [the second round], from the point of view of relations with Russia everything will remain the same. If Duda wins, then the relationship will only become worse.” According to Yury Kvashnin, head of European Union studies at the Institute of World Economy and International Relations in Moscow (IMEMO), for Russia Komorowski is “not the worst option.”

  2. Margaret

    Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz, representing a parliamentary majority for PiS,

    She is representing PO with PiS being her and PO’s biggest opponent for the last +10 years. Statement like this is an equivalent of saying that President Obama is a Republican. Anyone who has a good understanding of political scene in Poland would not make this mistake.

    1. OIFVet

      Here is the entire sentence:

      Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz, representing a parliamentary majority for PiS, is also the loser from the size of the anti-CO vote, and from the reluctance of the Poles to vote at all.

      That makes it fairly obvious that what you paint as insufficient understanding of Polish politics is in reality a rather terrible proofreading job, particularly with the obvious typo in “anti-CO”. After all, given the sentence preceding the one that caught your ire, one cannot logically be of PiS and be a loser given Duda’s victory in the first round.

  3. Yonatan

    Was the Polish Solidarity movement the forerunner of what would become ‘color revoutions’ enabled by bought-and-paid-for insiders?

      1. OIFVet

        You must admit though, for a movement that had been built on socialist precepts, Solidarnost turned neoliberal as soon as it assumed power. Isn’t the godfather of shock therapy in Poland, Solidarnost’s Balcerowicz, a member of the board at the Peterson Institute, and Walesa a recipient of a medal from NED??? Much like in other parts of Eastern Europe, Polish idealists sold themselves to the highest dollar bidder awful fast.

  4. uberslop

    This article is really sloppily written. Even the headline doesn’t make much sense — how is Komorowski’s defeat a blow to the War with Russia party? When Duda is, as the quoted Russian official calls him, a “frank Russophobe.”

    1. juliania

      Again, read the article.

      “Duda was pro-Maidan in the past. But this winter he modified his stance. In February he said the NATO alliance was manipulating both Ukraine and Poland, and playing Warsaw in the same way as it was Kiev. On March 20 Duda said that Poland should not send arms to Ukraine. If Poland did, he said the arms ‘would shoot [Poland] itself in the knee.’”

      The key word in your query is “war”.

      1. uberslop

        Aha — the key word is “War.” Well, that’s some hardcore hyperliteralism, in that case. I’d suggest that neither Duda nor Komorowski *actually* want war with Russia, or can be plausibly called leaders of a nominal “War With Russia Party.” Both, however, will continue to play on and incite the burgeoning anti-Russian sentiment of their citizenry. Still strikes me as a poorly edited piece.

  5. ds

    Good question. We now know Lech was receiving money from Mi6 and CIA. He was a rabid anti-semite and buffoon. However, there were legitimate concerns about the Polish Communist government. Development did not keep up with the other Eastern countries; there was austerity to pay-off the Western loans taken out right before the 1973 world recession; and their was too much central control of society.

  6. Minh

    The treaty substantially contributed to the failure of Piłsudski’s plan to create a Polish-led Intermarium federation of Eastern European countries, as portions of the territory proposed for the federation were ceded to the Soviets. ~~~ the treaty was originated in Minsk :-) “Peace talks began in Minsk on 17 August 1920, but as the Polish counter-offensive drew near, the talks were moved to Riga, and resumed on 21 September.[3] The Soviets proposed two solutions, the first on 21 September and the second on the 28th. The Polish delegation made a counter-offer on 2 October. Three days later the Soviets offered amendments to the Polish offer, which Poland accepted. An armistice was signed on 12 October and went into effect on 18 October 1920.”

  7. Irrational

    Re. table on voter turnout in other countries
    In both Belgium and Luxembourg voting is mandatory, which explains the high turnout among registered voters. In Lux nearly half of the population is foreign which explains the low turn-out when looking at voting age.
    I would have expected some footnotes explaining such anomalies.

Comments are closed.