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The Warsaw Voice » Politics » April 7, 2010
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PO Chooses Komorowski for President
April 7, 2010   
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A special parliamentary commission probing a scandal in which senior politicians from the ruling Civic Platform (PO) party allegedly lobbied illegally to help businessmen in the gambling industry has in the past several weeks become a media spectacle that people in Poland are exposed to on an almost daily basis. The private, around-the-clock news channel TVN 24 has been covering most of the commission sessions live and evening newscasts on all TV channels are full of witness statements and commentaries from politicians and journalists. The frenzy on TV is coupled with extensive coverage in newspapers, most notably the opposition Rzeczpospolita daily, whose article Oct. 1 started the whole affair. Rzeczpospolita has been printing one story after another with new excerpts from telephone conversations between politicians and businessmen, tapped by officers of the Central Anti-Corruption Bureau (CBA). Quotes from the tapped phone calls are becoming part of everyday jargon and the participants' behavior is the subject of jokes and parodies.

The lobbying scandal is turning into a strange reality show and regardless of whether the commission succeeds in establishing what really happened-and many believe it will not-the show is sure to strengthen the public in the belief that politics is a dirty business. Regardless of your political views it is hard not to feel embarrassed and disgusted at what TV viewers, radio listeners and newspaper readers are hearing from everybody involved in the scandal. For example: a businessman answers "I have nothing to say" to the majority of the commission's questions. During the tapped calls, the same businessman made liberal use of swear words and made clear that he regarded politicians as lackeys there for carrying out his orders.

Then, there are politicians who adjusted their language and manners to match those of said businessman when talking to him, yet before the commission they deny anything other than "incidental acquaintance" with the same individual, with whom they "only played golf." Finally, there are the commission members and chairman, working hard to ensure party politics are not excluded from the commission's work. They protect some witnesses and mercilessly attack others.

I wouldn't be surprised if the polls in coming weeks once again show that 70 percent of Polish citizens have a negative opinion on the work of parliament and the government, and if the next elections once again see a turnout of less than 40 percent of voters-prompting sociologists to observe that people are getting tired of politics and the electorate is losing trust in public representatives.
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