Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Meanwhile in Poland

Britain has once again helped the world by exporting one of its finest traditions: laughing at and lying to pollsters. It is a tradition I rather admire and was a little disappointed in 2010 when, apparently, it was abandoned and the polls, especially the exit polls turned out to be absolutely accurate.

No more. This time round the polls got it completely wrong and even the exit polls were far off the mark as my short blog on the night showed. Excellent. We are back to the wonderful tradition of making clear that we consider pollsters to be a silly joke (though not as silly or as much of a joke as UKIP).

Imagine how please I was to find out that this fine tradition is now being exported from no less a person than Edward Lucas of the Economist (he made it clear on another forum that this is his work).
FIRST Israel, then Britain, and now Poland: lately it seems pollsters cannot get anything right. The Polish presidential elections were once expected to result in a smooth first-round victory for Bronisław Komorowski, the incumbent, who is backed by the ruling centre-right Civic Platform party (PO). Over the course of the campaign his ratings slipped, suggesting that although he was still leading the pack, he would face a second-round runoff against his main rival, Andrzej Duda (pictured) of the conservative Law and Justice party (PiS). Yet as exit polls began filtering in on the evening of May 10th, it became clear that the surveys had all been wrong: Mr Duda had come in first.
Very good. Let us hope some more countries take up this wonderful and rewarding pastime.

However, the upset (perhaps temporary as the system is a complicated and long-drawn out one) in the Polish presidential election is interesting.

Not only it marks the return of the Law and Justice Party (PiS) that was seen to be on its last legs not so long ago but it also shows that Poles do not like to be taken for granted. Not for the first time they seem to be turning against the "acceptable" party and candidate, in this case Bronislaw Komorowski of the Civic Platform (PO).
No champagne corks popped at the president’s election-night event at Warsaw’s national stadium. Within 15 minutes of the final exit-poll announcement, Mr Komorowski had left the room. His supporters shuffled around the coffee machines, wondering what had gone wrong. As of mid-afternoon the next day, with 27 of 51 districts reporting their official results, Mr Duda had 36.7% of the votes, with Mr Komorowski at 31.9%.
There seem to be some other unexpected results for independent candidates as well.

Mr Duda is said to oppose Poland's entry into the euro. an eminently sensible point of view, even if you are in favour of the European Union; he is also supposedly in favour of lowering the retirement age. Now that is not very sensible in the modern world where people live longer and keep their faculties longer. Not only countries cannot afford it (and Poland's economy is not quite as good as one would like it to be as witnessed by the number of people who cannot find jobs there and go abroad to do so) but it seems insane to throw people on the rubbish heap for the last twenty-five, thirty years of their lives.

Of course, this could be a clever ploy to make sure that some of the older workers, on retiring early, also go abroad to get jobs.

Second round on May 24. Then we shall see.

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