Analyzing Polish Elections

(Note: I strongly encourage you to click the image links on this post when reading; they're essential to understanding what I'm saying.)

The country Poland is comprised of two main political parties; the first is Prawo i Sprawiedliwość (PiS) – “Law and Justice” in English. This party is a populist group which runs upon anti-corruption and anti-Communist credentials. The second party is the Platforma Obywatelska (PO) – in English the “Civic Platform” – a group espousing support for free market capitalism.

On October 2007, Poland held parliamentary elections between the two parties. Most of the Western media backed the Civic Platform (PO), disliking the unpredictability of the Kaczyński twins (leaders of Law and Justice). Here is a map of the results:

Link to Map of 2007 Polish Parliamentary Elections

As it turns out, the Civic Platform (PO) won the election, taking 41.5% of the vote. Law and Justice polled 32.1%, with the rest of the vote going to third parties.

A clear regional split is apparent in these results. Poland’s southeast – with the exception of Warsaw – generally voted for Law and Justice (PiS). On the other hand, support for the Civic Platform (PO) took a sickle-like shape along Poland’s northern and western borders.

These patterns are not random. Take a look at pre-WWI Imperial Germany superimposed upon this map:

Link to Map of 2007 Polish Parliamentary Election Vs. Imperial Germany

As the map above indicates, there is a powerful correlation between the borders of Imperial Germany and support for the free-market, pro-Western Civic Platform (PO) Party. In contrast, areas that voted strongest for Law and Justice (PiS) used to belong to the Austrian-Hungarian and Russian empires.

An exact map of Poland’s pre-WWI boundaries looks as so:

Link to Map of Pre-WWI Poland

These voting patterns have very little to do with any actual German presence in pro-Civic Platform regions. Few Germans live in the regions that used to belong to Imperial Germany; after WWII the process of ethnic cleansing effectively expelled them all from modern-day Poland.

The reason, rather, involves economics. The German Empire was far more economically developed than the Russian and Austria-Hungarian empires. This legacy is still present today, as Poland’s 2007 parliamentary elections showed quite starkly.

An interesting instance of Poland’s “German” divide occurred during the 1989 parliamentary elections. One may recognize this date: it was the year that communism fell in Poland. In these elections the Polish communists actually competed directly with the anti-communist Solidarity movement.

Here are the results:

Link to Map of 1989 Polish Legislative Elections

Solidarity, of course, won in a landslide victory – which is why communism fell in Poland. Yet even in these elections one can make out the regional, east-west divide in Poland. Surprisingly, the more “Western” and economically developed regions actually gave stronger support to the Communists.

All in all, Poland’s electoral divide provides a powerful example of how long-past history can influence even the most modern events. Whatever the political parties of Poland’s future, and whatever their political positions, one can be fairly sure that Polish elections will continue to replicate the boundaries of pre-WWI Germany for a long, long time.




In case of trouble

This diary is about the crisis in Georgia, and the US response.  This diary is not about Sen. McCain, or about Sen. Obama.. it is about Pres. Bush, and his response to the crisis.

I have advocated a gradual ratcheting up of pressure on the Russians to reverse their present course of action.  I have also stated that I support what Pres. Bush is trying to do, at least as I understand it.  This is not a time to be taking potshots at the sitting President... there will be plenty of opportunities to do that down the line.

I understand that my view is a minority opinion here, and I am okay with that.

Along those lines, I note with satisfaction that the US and Poland have just "crossed the rubicon" with respect to Missile Defence.  I am sure the timing of move, and the fact that such a move was made at all, is not a coincidence.

There's more...

Why aren't progressives discussing gay human rights issues abroad?

I consider myself left of center politically, but being gay and also generally concerned with human rights issues I am amazed by what I see as often a general silence in America by progressives on human rights abuse of gays abroad. I see very little discussion in the left leaning political blogsphere of this issue. And, yet, these issues havea  weight on gay rights in America too- as the recent US Supreme Court decision in Lawrence shows, we do, at least in dicta, think of what the rest of the world is doing in its policies and legal analysis.

I am sure there are a lot of people who will say that this issue is being covered (if so- where?) or that it's not an important issue (if not, then why is Dafur important? All human rights abuses should be considered important).

I especially think now is a good time to discuss this given, the UN is considering giving consultancy status to gay rights groups for the first time ever.

There's more...

Grandpa Rosenberg's America

Recently I've been thinking of my grandfather. I didn't know him well because he died when I was 8. As I reflect upon his life, my memories of him and the numerous anecdotes I've been told - I can't help but wonder what he would think of our country today.

Irving Rosenberg's story resembles that of many immigrants from his generation. At the age of 16 he escaped Poland prior to Hitler's September 1939 invasion with his six brothers. His father was a man of great foresight and correctly diagnosed the storm that was brewing from Nazi Germany. My great grandmother opposed her children leaving for America and even chased my grandfather with a broomstick prior to his departure. Thankfully she didn't get her way or I never would've been born.

There's more...


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