Where?

“Where are we? How did we get here? Why did we come? Where do we want to go? How do we want to get to where we want to go? How far do we have to go before we get to where we want to be? How would we know where we were when we got there?” These were the crucial questions which, according to Rowan Atkinson’s character Sir Marcus Browning M.P. we must ask ourselves. And these questions are – humor in veritate – relevant today in Poland with a majority of Poles apparently unhappy with the direction of the country.

According to a recent poll by the TNS Institute, 52 per cent of Poles think that things are going in the wrong direction, while 32 per cent of those responding to the survey are optimistic about the future, and 16 per cent have no opinion. This is a marginally more pessimistic result than a similar survey a month ago, with the pessimists up by two percentage points, and the optimists down by one percentage points. Forty–six per cent of those polled believe the economy to be in crisis, nine per cent describing the crisis as “deep” compared to the three per cent who see the Poland’s economic growth as “dynamic”.

Yet this discontent appears not to be affecting the President of Poland, Andrzej Duda, who, according to another recent poll by CBOS, is Poland’s most trusted politician, He is trusted by 62 per cent of polls, up three percentage points in a month. In second place comes prime minister Beata Szydło with 57 per cent, seven percentage points more than in September. Law and Justice party leader Jarosław Kaczyński, is trusted by of 37 per cent of Poles, but Defence Minister and patriot of the year Antoni Macierewicz is, alas, top of the list of those politicians with the lowest confidence rating, with 52 per cent of those polled saying that they do not trust him.

But as Sir Marcus reminds us, “purpose is what we’re striving for. We must have purpose. We mustn’t be purposeless,” and the government is certainly has that in spades. Thus, not only will the exhumations of the bodies of the victims of the air crash at Smolensk go ahead in order to allow new autopsies to be conducted in order to help investigators determine the cause of victims’ deaths and shed more light on the plane crash, including testing the bodies fir traces of explosives, but national prosecutors have begun an investigation as to why autopsies on the victims were not carried out in Poland at the time.

Meanwhile, Polish regional prosecutors in Warsaw have begun an investigation into the negotiation of the failed deal with Airbus to buy new helicopters for the army, reversing a previous decision not to do so. A politician from the governing Law and Justice party (PiS) had informed the prosecutors that members of the former ruling Civic Platform (PO) party may have rigged the tender in Airbus’s favour. The previous PO-led government chose France-based Airbus Helicopters to supply 50 military helicopters rather than domestically-based manufacturers, a decision which was criticised in by PiS. In an example of six of one and half another of the otherism, PO alerted anti-corruption authorities that PiS may have conducted “activities detrimental to the State Treasury,”

Despite this, Polish Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski said on Monday that he had sent a letter to his French counterpart with a “new offer of cooperation”. The letter says that Poland is willing to work with France on issues such as the purchase of helicopters for the Polish Armed Forces. He added that Poland remains interested in making a deal for the Caracal-model aircraft with France’s Airbus Helicopters, but for fewer than the 50 which were earlier discussed. And the defence ministry has started talks with the same three bidders from the 2012 tender, with Katarzyna Jakubowska from the ministry saying that “the new offers fully answer the Armed Forces’ needs, and in some ways their parameters are much more interesting than in offers made previously.”

Be that as it may, there is a danger in excessive use of prosecutors to second guess public policy decisions, a danger of which Sir Marcus was well aware. “Because we don’t want to end up, do we, like the blind man in the dark room looking for the black cat that isn’t there.”

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