Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Meanwhile, I'm still writing about Central and Eastern Europe.

The website of Polish daily Rzeczpospolita has
an illuminating map of district-by-district results in Poland's recent presidential election, which pitted an economic liberal (in the European sense; that is, a free-marketeer) against an anti-gay, staunchly Catholic social conservative who believes strongly in the welfare state.

The east-west divide on the map looks positively Ukrainian to me. Marek Kohn, a writer and journalist, notes how Tusk, the neo-lib, did well in "formerly German territories of the west, where the communists rebuilt a society on razed ground after the war."

Kohn concludes:

In the past, both Poles and outsiders have been tempted to depict Poland as singular, even peculiar, among the nations of Europe. Now that one European Union citizen in twelve is Polish, it is time to start looking at Poland as an illustration of what matters across the continent as a whole. That means looking at the Poland of solidarity.
OK, yes: But I would say we still learn more by looking at the ways Poland is unique among Europe's major nations. Granted, the social conservatives won out in the end, but where else in Europe has such a staunchly neo-liberal party done so well, coming close to winning both the presidency and the parliament? (Compare Germany's Free Democrats, which scored less than 10% in the recent German election. And this was considered a good result for them.)


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