News You Really Need To See: “Seeking Change, Young Poles Power the Right”

“Seeking Change, Young Poles Power the Right”

The New York Times, June 7, 2015, p.A4

In the recent election for the Polish presidency, a largely ceremonial office, the incumbent, who was allied with the party that governed Poland during eight years of prosperity was trounced by a much more conservative and little-known opponent.  Almost lost in the surprise was the greatest source of the right-wing challenger’s support: not Poland’s conservative, churchgoing older people, but its young population.  About 60 percent of voters between the ages of 18 and 29 supported the challenger, Andrzej Duda, 43, whose media-savvy, American-style campaign made the more staid approach of the incumbent Bronislaw Komorowski, 62, feel a bit creaky.  Five years ago, 54 percent of young voters chose Mr. Komorowski.  Of those who cast ballots for the first time, the great majority of whom had come of voting age since the last election five years ago, 67 percent backed Mr. Duda, according to Polish election officials. … Disenchanted and alienated young Poles may not have veered right so much as they embraced a trend that young voters share across much of Europe: A fierce rejection of whatever happens to be the current political order, whether left or right. … If this political disenchantment among young European voters persists, analysts predict the rise of many more third parties along the lines of Podemos in Spain and the National Front in France — parties on different ends of the political spectrum that share only a sharp rejection of the traditional political order. … The key [to the Polish presidential vote], Mr. Poplawski said — and many political analysts agree — had been the surprising rise of a third-party challenge by a well-known rock star, Pawel Kukiz.  In the first round of voting, in early May, no candidate got over 50 percent, setting up a second round between Mr. Komorowski and Mr. Duda.  But in that first round, Mr. Kukiz assembled a coalition of angry retirees, rowdy anarchists and disaffected youth that drew 20 percent of the vote, stunning the Polish elite.  In the second round, it was Mr. Duda who won most of those Kukiz voters even though the platform of his party, Law and Justice, had virtually no correlation to the grab bag of changes that Mr. Kukiz had proposed.”

Quickie analysis:  Angry voters should remember that throwing out the old system is not the same thing as getting a better system.

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