twins’ take power in Poland
The Kaczynski twins, the most
bizarre political partnership in Europe, assumed
power formally in Poland yesterday after parliament
approved Jaroslaw Kaczynski’s appointment as
Mr Kaczynski, whose brother Lech
is President, will accentuate the country’s
status as one of the most awkward members of
the European Union. In an inaugural speech he
promised to make Poland a big country that would
count in Brussels while protecting its culture
and morals against EU liberalization.
Marriage should remain a union
between a man and a woman, he declared. “We
won’t let ourselves say that black is white,”
he said. “We are going to protect this foundation
of social life.”
Homophobic, intolerant, ultranationalist
and always eager for a scrap with Poland’s neighbors,
the twins are sending alarm bells ringing in
and out of the country.
“He will be a bad Prime Minister,”
Donald Tusk, the leader of the opposition Citizens’
Platform, said, “and he will have an unprecedented
concentration of power at his disposal.”
The former President and Solidarity
leader Lech Walesa, who was once advised by
the twins, described them as polarizers with
a destructive energy. He said: “I didn’t like
their conspiracy theories. They were always
suspecting people, always involved in intrigue.”
To reduce confusion Lech Kaczynski
did not appear yesterday in the presidential
chair to cheer on his brother. The prospect
of television cameras swivelling between the
two men would have detracted from Jaroslaw Kaczynski’s
moment of glory. Jaroslaw Kaczynski has been
sensitive about world reaction to twins taking
over the running of a country and since last
autumn has resisted offers to become Prime Minister.
Look-alike rulers have occurred only in fiction,
such as Antony Hope’s The Prisoner of Zenda
or in Hollywood films.
On the face of it the blueprint
for Poland that Jaroslaw Kaczynski presented
to parliament was a sensible centre-right programme.
To reduce Polish dependence on Russian oil and
gas he favoured nuclear energy development and
was counting on the supply of Norwegian gas.
To retain a strong Polish currency
he pledged to cap the budget deficit. He also
promised to reduce the housing shortage and
combat unemployment rates of 22 per cent.
Yet the twins, 57, are famed for
their fractiousness. Jaroslaw Kaczynski, deploring
the declining Polish population, made it clear
yesterday that Poland would remain hostile to
abortion. And critics had no doubt that his
Government would seek to exclude homosexuals
from the teaching profession.
Lech Kaczynski ordered the police
to break up a demonstration by gays during his
tenure as Mayor of Warsaw, declaring: “I have
nothing against them protesting as citizens,
only as homosexuals.”
That sentiment was shared by his
brother. Indeed, the views of the new Prime
Minister and the President are so similar that
they often finish each other’s sen-tences. The
only way to distinguish them is by a small mole
to the left of Lech Kaczynski’s nose and the
cat hairs on Jaroslaw’ Kaczynski’s clothes.
Lech is married with a daughter,
but his brother lives with their mother in a
house full of cats. Their mother, Jadwiga, a
retired professor of literature, shaped their
She was a nurse in the Warsaw
Uprising against the Germans in 1944 and nurtured
their antagonism to the Germans and the Russians,
who failed to go to the assistance of the Poles.
When a Berlin newspaper recently mocked their
relationship to their mother, Lech Kaczynski
demanded an apology from the German Government,
compared the article to the ravings of Der Stürmer,
a Nazi-era newspaper, and refused to attend
a meeting with Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor,
and President Chirac of France.
Neither twin is keen on foreign
countries. Lech Kaczynski proudly declared that
his experience of modern Germany was limited
to the lavatories of Frankfurt airport. The
brothers are also convinced that Moscow is using
its energy supplies to pressurize Poland.
“I want us to be proud of being
Poles,” Jaroslaw Kaczynski said yesterday. Polish
foreign policy, he said, would focus on strengthening
democracy in Ukraine, play a creative role in
resolving the crisis in the EU and stand firmly
alongside the US.
“Poland is not a nation of deserters,”
he said, referring to his commitment to keeping
troops in Iraq. That may yet be a divisive issue
in the future. One of his coalition partners,
the volatile pig breeder Andrzej Lepper, argues
in favour of a withdrawal.
The key may lie in the 45 minutes
that separated the births of the brothers. Jaroslaw
is the older, dominant twin — the strategist
and plotter. Lech is more gregarious but also
more submissive. Sometimes he will pick up the
phone before it rings, knowing that his brother