Article from the October 2005 edition, the Socialist
paper of the Socialist Party, the CWI in Ireland.
Poland Capitalism fails the Poles
Mass emigration and unemployment By Fiona O'Loughlin
RECENT PARLIAMENTARY election results in Poland illustrate the lack of confidence that most Poles have in their political system. Since the collapse of Stalinism in 1989, there have been 11 elections and no government has managed to achieve a second term. Every new government has promised to root out corruption and failed.
In 25 September elections, right wing parties swept to power replacing the Democratic Alliance, which only managed to receive 11% of the vote, down from their previous achievement of 41% in 2001. Even this abysmal result was better than had been expected.
In a surprise surge towards the end of the campaign, the Law and Justice Party, a centre right populist party won the election with 27% of the vote. However, the new government will be weak and vulnerable as only 20% of the electorate will have voted for the parties that will form Poland's next government.
The Polish Labour Party (PPS) achieved 0.8% which although a low vote could be important for the future. The vacuum on the left in Polish society, the economic situation facing the Polish working class and the collapse of the Democratic Alliance could lead to a development of PPS as workers look for a way forward. Our sister organisation in Poland, Group for a Workers Party (GPR) worked in the campaign of Grzegorz Kupis PPS candidate. Kupis is leader of the tram drivers and stands on the slogan of "A worker's MP on a worker's wage".
The Polish economy has slowed in the recent period down to 2.8% and Poland has not achieved the levels of foreign direct investment as its neighbouring Baltic states. National debt levels will mean that the new government will engage in a programme of public spending cuts and increases in taxes, which will hurt the already struggling working class. Unemployment in Poland is 18%, the highest in the EU. 500,000 Poles are currently working abroad struggling to build a better life than they can get at home. 45% of young Polish workers have been forced to emigrate in search of work. It is estimated that between 80,000 - 100,000 Poles are working (and in many cases being badly exploited) in Ireland.
The record low turnout of only 40% in the general election is in itself an indication of how alienated the majority of Polish people feel. This is in a country that has only had elections since 1989 and this was the first election since Poland became a member of the European Union.
These elections have exposed the political vacuum in Polish society with many workers feeling unrepresented and frustrated. This anger and frustration will result in an increase in industrial disputes and political protests as Polish workers defend themselves from neo-liberalism. Poland needs a mass working class party that will fight for their interests and gives them an alternative to the pro-capitalist right wing parties that currently dominate Polish politics and society.
Joe Higgins, posel w irlandzkim parlamencie z Partii Socjalistycznej (Socialist Party), prowadzil zwycieska walke tureckich robotnik-w z firmy GAMA przeciwko pensjom niewolniczym.
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