Dominika Pszczółkowska

Dominika Pszczolkowska is a Polish journalist. Since 2007 she has been the Brussels correspondent for Gazeta Wyborcza, the largest Polish quality daily.
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wtorek, 23 czerwca 2009

Danuta Hubner, the commissioner for regional policy is definitely leaving her post to take up a seat in the European Parliament.

She announced it herself to Polish journalists in Brussels today. As she said, she will leave somewhere between tomorrow and July 14, when the new PE sits for the first time. Polish electoral law obliged her to make a decision by Wednesday.

Everybody in Poland was waiting for this announcement, since the nomination business has turned into a rather unseemly mess. First Hubner changed political sides and went to run for the Civic Platform in the election. Some suspected she was promised renomination for commissioner in exchange, but obviously not.

She got a great score, the 3rd largest in the country.  But her competitors in the PO say it wasn't really her, "even a horse would get a great score in Warsaw". Probably true, but she did do PO a big favour: if she went to run for the left, the left might have united around her and Włodzimierz Cimoszewicz (who didn't run finally), which would have taken a few points off PO.

Gosip has had it for a few weeks now that the prime minister's choice for commissioner in MEP Janusz Lewandowski, a pal from opposition times in Gdansk and former minister in charge of privatisation. The Europe minister Mikołaj Dowgielewicz even said this oficially. The government spokesman later denied that the choice has been made.

The only thing Tusk has said is that there are three candidates: Hubner, Lewandowski and Jacek Saryusz-Wolski. Speculation has been ripe about why he has not announced the name. Perhaps because Hubner threatened not to take up her EP seat? If she wanted she could stay on until the end of this commission, Tusk can't remove her.

If she didn't take a seat that she won with such a majority it would be damaging to the PO, but even more to herself, so I doubt this theory. Perhaps its just more convenient for Tusk to keep her hoping. Not very nice, then.

Anyway today Hubner seemed to believe that a temporary commissioner would be coming to replace her, but the race for the next term is still open. I doubt. But there seem to be a lot of backstage games going on here. Blah, Polish politics.  

18:17, dominique
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czwartek, 18 czerwca 2009

The Polish media are all following the Buzek - Mauro race. Latest gossip has it that the French are now supporting Buzek and have told Berlusconi. This would of course be a key piece of news: three of the four largest national groups in the EPP (Germans, French and Poles) would be for Buzek. But let's wait until they state this in public.

Some talk of the Italians getting the future head of EU diplomacy for Franco Frattini in exchange for giving up on Mauro. But I doubt that deal will come to be. First of all, seems like too good of a deal for the Italians. Second, why exactly would all the others think that Frattini is the most deserving candidate? What about Carl Bildt for example? One thing is sure: a Pole would never get that job (Russia!), so the same deal the other way around is out of the question.

Everybody else is of course following Barroso's nomination saga. I have just one thought on that one. When he is finally nominated Barroso might really hate the French, and perhaps the Germans as well, for dragging out the process, causing him sleepless nights for weeks, making him write electoral manifestos during the night with half of the Commission staff etc. Wonder how that will influence his next term, when he will NOT be seeking reelection.  

22:12, dominique
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wtorek, 16 czerwca 2009

Janusz Lewandowski has been chosen by prime minister Tusk to be the new Polish commissioner in Brussels.

The biggest looser: the outgoing commissioner Danuta Hubner, who wanted to stay. She not only ditched the left to run for the European Parliament from Tusk's party, but also brought him the 3rd best result in the country. But the favour was not returned.

Lewandowski, a former Polish minister who dealt with privatisation and was one of the fathers of the Warsaw stock exchange, is certainly a good candidate. He has been an MEP for the last 5 years, and the head of the parlimanetary budget committee for the first 2,5 (he had to leave when another Pole Jacek Saryusz-Wolski took over the foreign affairs committee).

The only spot on his image: his sometimes strange and certainly not politically correct remarks about women ("wish they were topless" he once said looking at a photo of himself with coworkers).  

Prime minister Tusk says Poland wants the industry portfolio, other people in government talk more generally about an important economic portfolio.

Gossip has it Hubner even threatened not to take up her job in the EP. Finally, the only thing she can hope for is heading an EP committee, on regional funds perhaps.

The third potential candidate for commissioner, Jacek Saryusz-Wolski, will most probably be demoted to. If Jerzy Buzek is elected head of the EP, Saryusz-Wolski will not be able to stay as chair of the foreign affairs committee. He will probably continue to head the Polish delegation in the EPP.  

12:37, dominique
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czwartek, 11 czerwca 2009

If Jerzy Buzek is not elected to head the European Parliament, he can always console himself by being president of... Poland. So suggests a presidential poll done by my paper.

Looking at the subject of my recent posts, you might think I am falling victim to a bit of Buzek-mania. OK, I admit it.

But I cannot help but bring you this next interesting piece of news about him. My paper "Gazeta Wyborcza" has done a malicious opinion poll, giving poeple a choice of two figures from each party for next year's presidential elections. In the governing Civic Platform prime minister Donal Tusk won, with 37 % of the votes, but Buzek is not that far behind him with 28 %. Certainly too close for Tusk's comfort. 

This is yet another reason for Tusk to do everything in his powers to get Buzek elected in the EP. He certainly couldn't and wouldn't leave the post after less than a year to run for president.

By the way, Tusk has proved once again in the EP election that he is a very cunning political player. He recruited Danuta Hubner, which not only brought some votes, but more importantly prevented the left from uniting and getting a bigger chunk of (the Civic Platform's) pie. On the other extreme he recruited Marian Krzaklewski, once a key figure because he united of the political right and center right. This took some votes from PiS, although Krzaklewski finally didn't manage to get elected.

Going back to the poll: in Law and Justice (PiS) president Kaczyński was sorely beaten by Zbigniew Ziobro, the former justice minister (19 to 39 %). This, believe it or not, would be a change for the worse. But it won't happen. Although internal battle has started in PiS this is still the Kaczyńskis' party and I doubt anybody would be capable of kidnapping it.

On the left former prime minister Włodzimierz Cimoszewicz, who has not been active in politics since he quit mid-campaign in the previous presidential election is still by far the favourite with 50 % of the vote.

But the above two don't matter: if you haven't noticed in the EP election the Civic Platform was the biggest winner among all parties in government in the EU.      

wtorek, 09 czerwca 2009

Jerzy Buzek's chances for becoming the president of the European Parliament are now greater than before last week's elections. Even the Italians admit this, even though their Mario Mauro is Mr Buzek's rival.

You can read the rest of my story in "Gazeta Wyborcza" in English here.

poniedziałek, 08 czerwca 2009

The former prime minister Jerzy Buzek, former justice minister Zbigniew Ziobro and commissioner Danuta Hubner are respectively number 1,2 and 3 in terms of number of votes in the EP election in Poland.

All got the support of over 300,000 voters (Buzek almost 400,000) in their circonscriptions. Buzek has won for the second time in a row.

I suspect you know who Buzek and Hubner are. Ziobro is one of the bulldogs of Law and Justice of the Kaczynski brothers. As justice minister he was most famous for calling a doctor a murderer before any charges were brought against him. Ziobro and a new anti-corruption office were searching for proof of corruption in a hospital. The doctor later proved to be innocent. I see that Kaczynski has just now advised Ziobro to learn some foreign languages before he goes to Brussels/Strasburg. Wise advice.

The news from the EP election which makes Poles happiest: the Germans won, the Italians are not the biggest in the EPP.

All the votes have not yet even been counted, but everybody in the European Parliament is already talking about the next state: election the president. The victorious Christian Democrats (EPP) have two candidates: the Pole Jerzy Buzek and the Italian Mario Mauro. Now they have to decide which one it will be.

The Buzek camp seems to be quite happy with the result.

1. The Italians from Silvio Berlusconi's party are not the most numerous among the EPP. Yet to be confirmed tallies put them at around 36 mandates, while the German CDU/CSU will have 42. If the Italians were the largest, it would be hard to deny them what they want. Now the pro-Buzek Germans will feel they can push their idea.

2. The French head of the EPP Joseph Daul has obviously had a success. He is almost guaranteed to stay in his post and thus less likely to cut deals with the Italians.

3. The Polish EPP members did well (somewhere between 28 and 31 mandates). If they get 50 % of the vote, which may happen or not depending on which poll you look at, they will be quite strong too. And no sex scandals in Poland.

4. The argument that something has to be given to the new still stands.

Having said all that, Buzek's nomination is still not in the bag. All will depend on what the French and perhaps the Romanians decide. There is also the very difficult question of what to give the Italians to soothe their sadness. Not many things available, Mauro was already deputy head of Parliament.

So you see, the game is just beginning.

Enough gossip for tonight, sleep well.

czwartek, 04 czerwca 2009

The Polish government, together with the European Commission representation in Poland have produced a new video clip for the 20th anniversary of the fall of communism. This time it's all about Poland.

The clip, which you can watch here is of course an answer to the earlier one from the EC, which hardly mentioned Poland (no "Solidarity", Lech Wałęsa etc.). Many of us Poles, myself included, were outraged. As a result of official protests that clip was changed slightly.

So what do I say now? I like the new clip. Brings back a lot of memories (see the kind of glasses Balcerowicz was wearing at the time! :-). I do suspect, though, that it speaks mostly to Poles. It has not even been put (yet?) on EUTube. 

Nertheless it's nice to see us Poles finally doing something to promote our image, instead of complaining that others don't appreciate us. Another nice step in this direction was the 4th of June celebrations in Brussels today. A crowd of Polish "astronauts" in golden suits arrived on a special golden plane and made waves around the city. They were welcomed in from of the EU building by Polish officials dressed up in T-shirts advertising "the vote that broke the wall". I think we are learning to speak about our history in words others will also understand.         

16:33, dominique
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środa, 03 czerwca 2009

Poles living in other EU countries prefer to vote for local candidates for the European Parliament rather then Polish ones.

I have come to this interesting conclusion after looking at data from a number of consulates. Polish people abroad can register in consulates and vote for Warsaw candidates. But almost none have. In London and all of south England: 700 people, in Ireland 500, in Berlin and around 600, in Paris 1,000, in the Netherlands 287. Even in Belgium where the European institutions are it's just 1831. This is nothing compared to the last Polish election in 2007, when for example in Ireland there were 22,000 Polish people registered and 15,000 actually voted.

Many Poles, as others, will of course not vote at all. But it seems a sizeable number have chosen to vote for local candidates. In the UK a group of Poles have been running a "Be a POLISHed citizen" campaign to convince their compatriots to vote locally. Although there are no data for the whole country, both they themselves and Polish diplomats believe they have been very effective.

In Ireland there are local elections at the same time, in which a dozen or so Polish candidates are running.

Belgium is the only country for which I found the number of registered Polish voters for the whole country: 1357. This is of course nothing compared to the number of Poles living in the country, but almost as much as will be voting in Polish consulates. The fact that the Ecolo have fielded a Polish candidate, Bartosz Lech, certainly helped. But I do see a trend here, especially in the UK and Ireland. Looks like the Poles are settling and starting to consider these places home. 

poniedziałek, 01 czerwca 2009

Law and Justice (PiS) have taken to their traditional anti-German, pro-catholic messages to lure voters.

Sorry not to have written for so long. I was off to Paris. Depressing how people there (as elsewhere) are uninterested in the European election.

If you are wondering what is happening in the Polish campaign, here is a quick update. Law and Justice have been back to their traditional campaign tactics: raising fears of Germans and talking about how catholic Europe should be. You can read all about it in English here, here and here, so I will just say I am suprised they still think it will work. But maybe they are right and I am wrong: the latest poll in the Mazovia region (around the capital, but minus the capital) shows they are ahead. Luckily in some other places like Gdansk very far behind.

It has also been officially announced that they will be forming a group in the European Parliament with the British Conservatives and Czech ODS. David Cameron even made it to Poland to let this be known (and obviosly to help PiS in their campaign). The Kaczynskis must be thrilled, some respectable company finally, but I really can't grasp why Mr. Cameron wants to ally himself with them. The anti-German stream, perhaps? Because not their stance on gays, I suspect.

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