Kaczynski tempting Godwin?

As you all know EU member states are preparing for an important EU summit to discuss a new treaty replacing the failed constitution project. For a summary of what’s at stake, you can have a look at this BBC News page. I do not have the time to discuss the summit at length, but there is one interesting tidbit that I would like to highlight, if only for its “entertainment” value.

It seems Poland will come up with anything to strengthen its voting power within the EU. First they suggested a country’s voting weight should be tied to the square root of its population and now, get this, Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski has started using World War II as an argument for trying to get a larger share of the votes.

He suggested, in a radio interview, that without WWII Poland would have had 66 million inhabitants by now, instead of the current 38.5 million. And since the voting strength of a country is based upon the size of its population Poland would therefore deserve a larger share of the votes… Morally, I suppose. Interesting detail: of the 6.5 million Polish people that were killed in WWII 3.5 million were Jewish. (source: an unlinkable page -currently number 123- at NOS Teletekst)

I am sure AFOE readers will find plenty to discuss here. Beware Godwin, though. Also, if you find another source for this, please mention it in comments.

Instant update

I just love the internet. At ArcaMax Publishing I found another, even more provocative, account of what Kaczynski said:

Poland is challenging population-based voting rights in the European Union by saying it would have more people if Germany hadn’t slaughtered Poles.

This entry was posted in A Fistful Of Euros, The European Union by Guy La Roche. Bookmark the permalink.

About Guy La Roche

Dutch translator and subtitler living in Brittany with his three cats. Has also lived in the Flemish part of Belgium. Speaks English rather fluently and in a former life used to have a decent command of Spanish. Knows swear words in German and Russian. Not quite francophone yet, but slowly getting there. Vaguely centrist observer of the world around him, extremely naive and, sometimes, rather proud of it. Writes Venale Pecus.

17 thoughts on “Kaczynski tempting Godwin?

  1. He’s not tempting Godwin, he’s tempting Gogol. Essentially, he wants to know what percentage of a person he can count his dead souls as for EU purposes.

    Perhaps he could use some of his €50bn structural funding to buy some of Russia’s huge stock and boost his voting weights even more? After all, once the precedent is set, no doubt we would want to cash in a couple million war dead from WW1 as well as WW2. And then there are the French, and even Italy..

  2. You know, I was just about to do a post on the Kaczynski government. This article was the starting point:

    http://www.nybooks.com/articles/20331

    — about the “lustration”. I’m actually a supporter of lustrations in the first few years, but ~20 years after the fact isn’t justice — it’s witch-hunting.

    Is there a way in which this government /doesn’t/ suck? Because from a distance, they look like complete and perfect idiots. Are we missing something?

    Doug M.

  3. Clausewitz:
    “War is merely a continuation of politics by other means.”
    Kaczynski:
    “EU-politics is merely a continuation of WW2 by other means.”

  4. Wow. This sounds like a whacky version of our fun with government design a while back. There seems to be a serious resistance to a bicameral parliament modeled on the Anglosphere model (American House/Senate; British House/Commons; and Canadians too).

    Why?

  5. How long before these clowns start agitating for the restoration of the 1771 borders? Does anybody know if the electorate are getting tired of them yet?

  6. It is this kind of thinking that causes me to be sometimes pessimistic about the future of the EU as a viable political entity. A lesson that European politicians should learn from US political history (and really Europe’s own recent history) is that the way forward is to forgive and forget. The USA moved forward quite successfully on its racial issues in large part due to Dr. King’s message of non-violence and letting the past be in the past. He sought reconciliation in the future rather than restitution for the past.

    Closer to home for Europe, at the end of WWII, rather than exploiting an occupied western Germany, the US chose to implement the Marshall Plan which was obviously hugely successful helping rehabilitate Germany as a viable, politically non-threatening state.

    Making inflammatory statements about Germany might play well at home, but is definitely counterproductive.

    In any case, one major reason that Poland is a relatively minor state is that historically its political systems were totally dysfunctional. If I recall, for decades if not centuries, a single no vote in the assembly of nobles could defeat any proposal in the Polish system. The political dysfunction made Poland vulnerable to Russia and Germany; as it was partitioned multiple times over the centuries.

  7. A little birdy tells me that one f the gifts that the twins will be getting for finally (4am Saturday) agreeing to the IGC proposal will be a halting of DG Fish’s case against them for badly overfishing cod in the Baltic. That and huige amounts of structural funds

  8. A couple of comments:

    1. By now the K twins are beyond just shaming themselves, they’re also dragging Poland into the dirt with them.

    2. If we’re to include war-dead, then maybe it’s Israel that should get these votes, not the Poles

    3. About the lesson from the US experience. Yes, the EU is about getting over WWII. Too bad we let the politically/historically underdeveloped Poles into it. They’re obviously incapable of entering the modern world. If not already, then soon they’ll be less popular than the Greeks.

  9. BTW, this business of counting the dead? The Serbs do this too, as do the Russians.

    In the case of the Serbs, it’s “if we hadn’t lost millions in WWI (sacrificed to save the Western Allies) and then millions more in WWII (slaughtered by fascists — looking at you, Croatia), then there’d be a lot more Serbs today (and we wouldn’t have all these problems).

    In the case of the Russians, it’s simpler — if Russia hadn’t lost ~20 million people in WWII, there’d be a lot more Russians, the USSR probably wouldn’t have fallen apart, and even if it had, well, there’d be a lot more Russians. This tends to pop up whenever one discusses Russia’s current demographic situation with Russians.

    In both cases, Serbia and Russia, it seems a straightforward reaction to those nations rough times in the ’90s — if there were more of us, we wouldn’t be treated this way!

    (Who does not do this? Well, the Romanians lost almost 10% of their population in WWII, but they don’t seem to have a thing about it. Hungarians neither, AFAICT — although in that case, a lot of those lost were Jews.)

    Doug M.

  10. “BTW, this business of counting the dead? The Serbs do this too, as do the Russians”

    And the small, trifling detail of dead or living Germans, Americans, Chinese, Japanese, British, Italians, French, etc. altering the equation never gets brought up, one surmises?

  11. Chinese are in the EU?

    I’m sorry, are we having the same conversation?

    Doug M.

  12. “Chinese are in the EU?

    I’m sorry, are we having the same conversation?”

    Ah, sorry, it seems not, and I’m not sure how much of a conversation I was starting. I was referring to the broader reasoning of “if not for WW II, we would be doing better/have more influence in the world because of our larger population”, rather than how much representation a country “should” have in EU institutions.

  13. Really, this is the silliest thing I’ve ever seen. I’m not sure the Polish guy is for real. OK, the average extremist on the street might fantasize how ‘large’ his country would have been if it weren’t for… However, I’ve never seen a ‘serious’ government doing this.

    Really, I think A. Merkel i right in saying that if the Poles are going to behave like this then she’ll just keep on negotiating without them.

  14. Oskar:

    “I was referring to the broader reasoning of “if not for WW II, we would be doing better/have more influence in the world because of our larger population”, rather than how much representation a country “should” have in EU institutions.”

    The Second Republic was poised to do reasonably well at the end of the 1930s, and to emerge as a European power of some note. The problem lay with its geography: Any country sandwiched between Germany and the Soviet Union, with claims on them and their claims on it, was doomed absent some sort of external support.

  15. “Really, this is the silliest thing I’ve ever seen. I’m not sure the Polish guy is for real. OK, the average extremist on the street might fantasize how ‘large’ his country would have been if it weren’t for…”

    Yep. And all of this becomes even more whacky when you take into account that between 2004 and 2006 Poland had the lowest birthrate in the EU and lost circa 2 million people in out migration. The way they are going in 50 years time Poland will be half the size it is now. So maybe they would be better advised to spend their time addressing things they can do something about, rather than lamenting over something they can’t. Time – for good or for ill – has a directional arrow.

    Incidentally – for Doug Muir, and anyone else who is interested – the World Bank published a major study of ageing and population decline in Eastern Europe and Central Asia this week (entitled from Red to Grey). Most interestingly they focus on the time horizon of 2007 – 2020, which is when it seems all the important action is going to take place.

    I hadn’t realised just how dependent Russia itself now was on migrants for employment growth (the working age population is already in decline). This means that in Europe at any rate the “human well” is about to get sucked well and truly dry, and over a relatively short time horizon. I am about to post on Latvia in this context. (my apologies for interrupting what is a fascinating thread with my own preoccupations).

  16. Ok, just to make something clear. Kaczynski’s statement was made in a private radio interview. It was definitely an undiplomatic, maybe even stupid, most likely for populist consumption at home kind of statement. Sure, a social faux pas.

    But Markel’s freakin’ proposal to decide on the treaty without one of the member states was OFFICIAL. What kind of a Union is the European Union? When somebody disagrees with the big kids who are “supposed” to run the show, we throw them out? And it’s obvious that a meeting held by All-But-Poland is really France, Germany, UK and maybe Italy deciding things for themselves, with other smaller countries as window dressing.

    God, I can’t wait till Turkey gets accession and the we-have-more-people-now countries will get their due.

  17. Just to follow up on Edward’s note about the World Bank report, here is a link to an interview by Radio Free Europe with one of the WB economists who worked on the report. A good summary of the report’s conclusions…

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