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Saturday, February 24, 2024

Nothing happens twice – a column by Maciej Wierzyński

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I read with curiosity about the adventures of Boris Johnson, because they give food for thought and there is something to compare. Johnson’s decline imposes comparisons with the current situation of Jarosław Kaczyński. But Johnson seems to have come to terms with the loss of the prime minister, but he does not resign from leading the party, and the president still does not give up and is – as the saying goes – on top. The president is still the most important, he travels around Poland and deals with the troubles he has got himself into. He pisses, dumbs and promises.

In The Economist, I read an editorial about the decline Johnsonand on the cover there was a photo of the former prime minister in a funny harness, dangling from a rope. The big title screams “Fall of the Jester”. In English: “Clownfall”.

Fortunately, in our country no one would allow himself such a sacrilege. Meanwhile, the unbraked British editorial writer suggests that “Johnson clung to power almost to the end, claiming that his mandate came directly from the people.” And this is not the end of the scandalous innuendo: “Johnson demonstrated deliberately disregarding the interests of his party and nation.” Unfortunately – and here the analogies end – such irresponsible guesses – fortunately unthinkable for us – also appeared among Johnson’s party colleagues who got rid of him.

Johnson’s troubles are watched by the world with curiosity, and I have the impression that he can barely hide his amusement. Troubles PiS and maneuvers of the president Kaczynski they do not arouse such interest, despite the fact that Poland, as the most important people in our country mention again and again, rejected the complexes of micro-geeks and boldly took its rightful place in the center of the world political scene.

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Personally, however, I can see the similarities and differences that are worth noting. The main difference is that Johnson was refused by his party colleagues. Admittedly, in order for an avalanche to set off, a rebellion was first needed from Johnson’s closest associates, the members of the government. Only this revolt was followed by the conservative majority in parliament.

Johnson’s departure in this respect resembles crises at the top of power in the People’s Republic of Poland. I remember, and sometimes even – I am ashamed to admit – I fondly recall the fall of Gomułka in December 1970 and Gierek in the summer of 1980. Economic troubles swept away both of them. In both cases, my colleagues, loyal to a certain point, decided that the boss was unable to cope, he detached himself from reality and got rid of him. The Fall of Gierek showed with all frankness of the party the monumental film work “Gierek” made thanks to the generosity of anonymous philanthropists. In this work, the same forces conspire against the first secretary of the Polish United Workers’ Party, who still enjoys well-deserved popularity, which today are among the leading opponents of “good change”. These forces are: Western bankers, Leszek Balcerowicz and – dyed in Brussels as benefactors – West German revanchists.

The current political situation in Poland allows for such bold comparisons: the ruling party is unable to master it inflationwhich it largely caused itself.

Prime Minister Morawiecki assures that the causes of the economic misfortune are external: war Russia against Ukraine, expensive energy resources. The people’s government explained the same rush of prices. Marcin Zaremba, in the article “How to make a grandfather out of a Pole” (“Polityka” No. 29), reminds that already in 1974, that is two years before Radom and six years before August, the people’s authorities rejected allusions of high prices, rightly pointing out that “in the West is also getting more expensive”. So nothing new. The political situation in the country seems to be identical to the one prevailing in the Polish People’s Republic in the periods preceding the palace coups. As a well-read and aged man, the president probably also feels something like that through his skin. That’s why he drives and speaks.

However, I do warn against excessive optimism. It’s true: there is a solstice in the air. It’s true: in the old days of the solstices, it resulted in loosening of the collar. However, I warn the optimists: the final defeat of real socialism was preceded by a desperate attempt by Jaruzelski to defend it. In December 1981, he introduced martial law. It was only when he understood, and took several years to understand, and Gorbachev came to power in the USSR, that Jaruzelski decided to dismantle the system in a controlled manner. And more importantly, the entire process was carefully overseen by the Americans, who were then at the height of their power.

However, history may not repeat itself. And this, it seems, can save Jarosław Kaczyński from the fate of Boris Johnson.

Opinions expressed in columns for tvn24.pl are not the opinion of the editorial office.


Maciej Wierzyński – TV journalist, publicist. After the introduction of martial law, he was released from TVP. In 1984, he emigrated to USA. He was a scholarship holder at Stanford University and Penn State University. He founded the first multi-hour Polish-language Polvision channel on the “Group W” cable television in the USA. In 1992-2000 he was the head of the Polish Voice of America Section in Washington. Since 2000, editor-in-chief of the New York “Nowy Dziennik”. He has been associated with TVN24 since 2005.

Main photo source: TVN24

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