Bloggers for Bronislaw

It is simply intolerable that a EU member state’s government should try to dismiss an MEP elected by the people. I think everyone can agree on that, right? It’s for the public to decide who should represent them. It’s for the member states as a whole to decide on the overall organisation of the EU. It’s for the European Parliament to decide on its own rules of procedure.

Not if you’re Poland’s comedy prime minister Jaroslaw Kaczyinski, who wants everybody to sign a statement that they are not, have never been, and never will be a Communist. Never mind that Poland already did this in 1998. Never mind that this includes everyone who had a position of responsibility up to 1989. Never mind that the Polish president until a couple of years ago was a former commie, and the hens didn’t stop laying.

As Major Major in Catch 22 says, the thing is to catch them before they know what allegiance is and keep’em pledging. Bronislaw Geremek and Tadeusz Mazowiecki, veterans of Solidarity’s intellectual side and the first post-communist government both, have refused to sign the pledge on principle, and now the Kaczyinskis are trying to end their mandates.

I wasn’t aware that an MEP was responsible to his or her home government – in fact I’m pretty sure they aren’t, and I’m meant to be an EU specialist. Even Maggie Thatcher was unable to browbeat the British commissioner, or for that matter the MEPs. This is profoundly anti-democratic, and worse, anti-constitutional – it’s an exercise in rule by whim, and if the EU is anything, it’s a community committed to constitutionalism.

Depressingly, looking up Tim Garton-Ash’s 1990s essays, I find reams of stuff on “lustration”, aka sacking people you don’t like, which all seems to come to the conclusion that it was risky, but fortunately it’s all over and Poland is a normal country. News: it’s not anywhere near as normal as we hoped. Sadly, the opinion-current behind the current government is the same that was calling the ex-communists and most of the dissidents by the same horrible name in 1991 – “zydokommuna” or “Jewishcommunists”. Nice friends you got there.

I’d like to see a blog storm about this.

7 thoughts on “Bloggers for Bronislaw

  1. Polish Government Run By Dickheads Shock.

    As this blog’s resident Euro-American hybrid, my sincerest sympathies go to the brave people of Poland.

    Liberal democracy in no way prevents swine from gaining high office and power. At best, it gives us the chance to get rid of them. Eventually.

    Doug M.

  2. “It is simply intolerable that a EU member state’s government should try to dismiss an MEP elected by the people. I think everyone can agree on that, right?”

    Ummm, no. In any functioning democracy there are reasons why an elected official may be removed that have nothing to do with the voters. Violation of law or of “ethical rules” is one example. This can be done through impeachment or in some cases through other means. This is a simple consequence of the idea of seperation of powers. If the American voters elected Arnold in 2008, that wouldn’t fly and he’d be “removed”.

    “Not if you’re Poland’s comedy prime minister Jaroslaw Kaczyinski, who wants everybody to sign a statement that they are not, have never been, and never will be a Communist.”

    No. The lustration law is not about declaring one’s past or present political ideology but whether a person was an informer for the Secret Services (non-Polish Europeans, think Stasi). There’s a good many ex-Communist Party members that were in no way affiliated with the Secret Services (just plain ol’ opportunists), as far as we know. The ex-financial minister Leszek Balcerowicz was one, as, I believe, was the ex-president, Kwasniewski.

    “I wasn’t aware that an MEP was responsible to his or her home government – in fact I’m pretty sure they aren’t, and I’m meant to be an EU specialist.”

    This is a very … weird … statement. It’s like saying that an elected Senator in the US Senator is not responsible to his home state but only to the federal government. If the MEP’s are not there to represent their home countries, what exactly is the EU parliament for? (the inner cynic will keep silent and not offer forth an answer). I guess you’re speaking legalistically or something, but from a practical perspective it don’t make sense.

    “EU is anything, it’s a community committed to constitutionalism.”

    Incidentally, so is Poland, which happens to have its own constitution and set of laws. Obeing these laws, however wrong they may be, is part of the democratic/constitutional process.

    ““lustration”, aka sacking people”

    Again, no. The original idea behind “lustration” was that having people, who in the past have been informers for the Secret Services, or have cooperated with foreign (i.e. Soviet) intelligence, in sensitive and powerful government position was not a good idea. At the very least you’d want to know if they did, even if you kept them there. That was the original purpose of the lustration law. Unfortunetly it did go beyond it but there was nor is any “sacking” involved. Suppose Geremek does have some dirt in his past (I very very much doubt it). If he fessed up and signed there’d be no legal/employment reprecussions. He’d keep his job. All “punishment” would involve would be a tarnished reputation. It’s by refusing to sign (and I understand where he’s coming from) – by breaking the law – that he’s endangering his position. Hell, one of the candidates for president in the next to last election fessed up to his youthful cooperation with the SB, he still ran, and many people still voted for him.

    “Sadly, the opinion-current behind the current government is the same that was calling the ex-communists and most of the dissidents by the same horrible name in 1991 – “zydokommuna” or “Jewishcommunists””

    This is a bit of a smear. There certainly is a very nasty strain in Polish politics but it’s usually associated with a faction within the League of Polish Families (LPR) rather than the Kaczynskis’ Law and Justice (PiS). Of course LPR IS part of the governing coalition which reflects badly on PiS. But so is the left-wing/populist Self-Defense (Samoobronna) which says more about the weirdness/instability of Polish politics than anything else (as an anology to Western politics, I don’t think the LPR is up to Le Pen or BNP standards though some parts of it are. They’re more like the Trent Lott/Strom Thurmond style Repulicans in the US… uh, “nuanced”). The success of the PiS, its “opinion-current behind the current government”, is rather due to the success of Lech K. in getting rid of corruption as mayor of Warsaw (the Law part) and its platform of major revisions to Poland’s ridiculous criminal law code (the Justice part) and, yes, it’s anti-communist stance.

    I’d like to note that:
    1. I don’t like PiS. Mostly they are incompetent and clueless, most of all in economic matters.
    2. I’ve always somewhat liked Geremek. While he is a smart man and seems like a decent sort, he’s always had problem with elistim and arrogance and a sense of celebrity-dissident entitlement common among post Solidarity politicians.
    3. I think the lustration law is dumb and stupid. Still it is the law.
    4. This is an issue over jurisdiction – EU vs. national – rather than “democracy” or “constitutionalism”. Phrasing it in latter terms reflect either a misunderstanding of the situation or a delibrate rhetorical trick.

  3. Radek, Senators are not responsible to state governments, and state governments have no authority over them.

  4. In any functioning democracy there are reasons why an elected official may be removed that have nothing to do with the voters. Violation of law or of “ethical rules” is one example. This can be done through impeachment or in some cases through other means.

    Indeed. But the Polish government doesn’t appoint MEPs. Neither are they Polish public employees. The Polish government has as much right to remove MEPs as the British government has to dismiss Polish government ministers – i.e. none. You want to get rid of an MEP? Either wait ’til the next election and vote against them, or get another MEP to introduce a motion of censure through the EP Committee of Quaestors. (I think – it’s a while since I read up the rules of procedure.)

    This is a very … weird … statement. It’s like saying that an elected Senator in the US Senator is not responsible to his home state but only to the federal government. If the MEP’s are not there to represent their home countries, what exactly is the EU parliament for?

    The MEPs are there purely to represent the electors. They are not appointees of member governments. They are not members of a national delegation. Countries have Permanent Representatives to the EU, their inhabitants have MEPs. European Commissioners take an oath NOT to represent their home countries.

    Incidentally, so is Poland, which happens to have its own constitution and set of laws. Obeing these laws, however wrong they may be, is part of the democratic/constitutional process.

    Just as a US state cannot tell the US Senate what its rules of procedure should be, Poland doesn’t get to dictate the European Parliament’s rules.

    This is a bit of a smear. There certainly is a very nasty strain in Polish politics but it’s usually associated with a faction within the League of Polish Families (LPR) rather than the Kaczynskis’ Law and Justice (PiS). Of course LPR IS part of the governing coalition which reflects badly on PiS.

    I think this refutes itself.

  5. John and Alex, I see your point on the Senators and MEPs and I withdraw my previous comment in that regard. However,

    I think this refutes itself.

    is true only if taken out of context. It is though why I said it was a “bit of” a smear rather than an outright one. It’s sort of like faulting a moderate Republican for being in the same party as someone like Strom Thurmond (even that’s not accurate as PiS and LPR are different parties). There’s a bit of substance to it but it’s also important to note that Giuliani isn’t Thurmond, and PiS isn’t LPR.

  6. Pingback: Nosemonkey / Europhobia » Blog Archive » Euroblog Roundup 4

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