Waiting for Godot

It is now some considerable time after the Polish general elections in which PiS gained an overall majority of seats. So one would have thought that by now we would know who will be a minister in the new government. But no, the nation is to wait until such time as Kaczyński has spoken. Those who harboured the belief that the nominated Prime Minister (my name is Szydło, Beata Szydło) had a ready list of candidates to present to Parliament should by now have no illusions at all that both the Presidency and the Government will in fact be steered from the back seat by Jarosłwa Kaczyński.

And of course PiS is now back tracking on its election promises to simultaneously reduce taxes, reduce the budget deficit and increase spending.

Interesting times indeed…

(by AWK)

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Polish elections – early results

At the start I must state that although the UK system of first past the post has its disadvantages it at least you know whom (as a person) you are voting for. Having voted yesterday in the Polish elections I must say I am totally confused.

One was faced with 12 typewritten pages of candidates with no way of knowing who they are, what they personally (as opposed to their parties line) actually think nor what chance they have of gaining a seat in Parliament. So very little to go on in order to indulge in tactical voting. That is voting for the person who is most likely to defeat the candidate/ party you absolutely do NOT want in power. Or voting for the person who will best represent local interests at the national level. Without divulging which party list I actually voted for, being a firm champion of the underdog, I voted for the last listed candidate of my chosen party. Also because he was the ONLY candiadate amongst the more than 300!! I could have voted for who bothered to send an electoral statement and whom I know lives locally.

Anyway the exit polls suggest that PiS will have a small overall majority. So they can’t change the Constitution but will most probably enforce their view of the World and Poland’s place in it. Given that some 50% bothered to vote and the latest exit shows PiS at some 38% of those who voted we have the situation where less than 20% of the population will have decided which way the country should go. With Europe and the European project at a turning point and close to cricis a major European nation will be represented by a small minority of views.

Anyway just to highlight the absurd election system each 1% of the vote cast for a particular party will have given a completely different number of seats dependant upon the party:

PiS 6.03 MP’s

PO 5.77 MP’s

Kukiz 4.72 MP’s

Petru 3.77 MP’s

PSL 3.27 MP’s

And this is called proportional representation. I don’t think so. And your vote has very little chance of electing the one individual you would want to represent you, the order on the list having been decided by a committee at the relevant party head office!

posted by AWK

Get on your bike

Last week Bronisław Komorowski the incumbent President of Poland facing a second round run off with the opposition “stand in” candidate was harangued by a young man asking him how his graduate sister (presumably with a degree in political studies) was supposed to survive on 2,000 PLN per month from her “non” job and how she was supposed to buy her own flat. Komorowski replied that she should: a) get a better paid job and b) take out a mortgage. This reminded me of the response by Norman Tebbit- Maggie Thatcher’s tame rotweiller advising a young man unable to get a job in a Northen town to “get on his bike” and head south. Well as it turns out years later the people heading to where there are jobs were Poles and other Central Europeans.

Actually the key message is that many people believe that governments can and indeed should create jobs. Well the reality is that they can’t. What they can do is destroy jobs. Only entrepreneurs create jobs. When I look at Poland I find that, apart from multinationals, there are a large number of businesses set up by enterprising young Americans, Spanish, Koreans and Vietnamese amongst others who came to Poland and who run succesfull companies. One example I like to quote is Coffee Heaven set up by a young (then) American – one Michael Ovidenko and a UK company brought to Poland by Tesco to set up in store bakeries. As it turned out Tesco pulled out of the idea and my firm put together Michael who had an idea and the UK company who saw potential. Money was raised on the UK AIM market and the rest is history. Now being destroyed by Costa Coffee but that is as they say another story.

Another success story is Allegro, set up by a Dutch citizen leaving e-bay as an also run.

I could cite many other examples including Solaris buses and Raben logistics. Look at major UK companies such as M&S set up by immigrants. What is the common thread? Probably hunger has a role but I guess mainly it is not being bound by local “received wisdom” and thinking outside the box.

Coming back to Poland there are a large number of issues. The key one being education (we don’t need no education – leave the kids alone to quote Pink Floyd). There is no doubt that the Polish system is strong on fact regurgititation. What is is not good at is team work and building social capital. Oh and the mania that you cannot leave school until you are 19 and that 50% plus have to go on to university. Why? Look at succesfull entrepreneurs: Steve Jobs, Alan Sugar, Richard Branson and Bill Gates amongst others. Couldn’t wait to quit main stream education.

So the key issue of the current Presidential elections and the up coming Parliamentary elections should be just what sort of education the government should use OUR money to fund. Not whether in vitro is a good or bad thing or whether the RC church should have a monopoly on ethical education in schools.