Listening

“I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen.” The words of Ernest Hemingway, which women would say apply to most men and which the rest of us would say apply to most politicians. Thus the electoral success across Europe over recent year of those parties which the soi disant liberal elites tend to think of as beyond the pale while failing to recognize the dangers posed by their ignoring the legitimate concerns of those less able to buy their way out of the chaos their preferred policies inflict on others.

Thus to the results of the German elections where large numbers of voters did not listen to her message to stick with the centre parties. Although returned for a fourth term as Chancellor, Mrs. Merkel saw her CDU/CSU party’s share of the vote drop from the 41.5 per cent won last time to 33 per cent. Her erstwhile coalition partner, the SPD, recorded its worst post-war performance at 21 per cent, while the populist AfD became the third largest party on 13 per cent.

It’s an ill wind that blows nobody no good, and Poland’s Interior Minister, Mariusz Błaszczak, said that he hopes this weaker than expected election result will prompt the German Chancellor to learn her lesson from the opening of national borders o waves of refugees. Speaking to Polish state broadcaster TVP on Sunday evening: “The high, 13% support for the AfD party shows that if only common sense wins out, this policy [on migrants] should change. But we can’t be certain this will happen of course.”

For its part, the Polish government is maintaining its stance against the EU scheme to resettle refuges. Despite congratulating Angela Merkel on her election win, “I wish … to congratulate you personally and the party which you head… I am certain that the future coalition, under your leadership, will serve German citizens, European integration and strengthening good ties with Poland, ”Polish prime minister Beata Szydło had last week told Catholic broadcaster Trwam that the European Commission was trying to bully Poland. But “bullying will get us nowhere,” Szydło said, adding that Poland was trying to ensure the European Union remained united and safe.

Szydło said the European Union is trying to force Poland to accept its resettlement policy, but that she would not bend to pressures, because to do so would pose a risk to Poland’s security. It is, of course, no answer to point out that most Poles in Poland are in more danger from other drivers than terrorists posing as refugees. She added that almost none of the European Union’s member states have met their obligations under the relocation programme. The prime minister has previously said that relocating so few people was not a solution to the problem. Rather Poland was supporting those in need by increasing humanitarian aid to the victims of the war in Syria and by working with aid organisations to rebuild hospitals. In her view, aid is both cheaper and more effective, while the current EU migration policy had not halted the flow of migrants to Europe.

Polish officials have said that migrants were not interested in remaining in Poland, Hungary or the Czech Republic – the countries against which the Commission is beginning proceedings – but wished to go to richer countries. Polish President Andrzej Duda has said the European Union plan smacks of forced relocation, something that has strong negative connotations in Poland, given the numerous mass deportations from Poland during its periods of foreign occupation during the last century.

And since, as has been written here before, there seems an inability or unwillingness to distinguish between refugees in immediate danger and need of assistance and those seeking better life, the government’s approach is not illogical. Besides, whatever else it might be accused of, failing to listen appears not be it.

According to a new survey by pollster Estymator, conducted on 21-22 September on a representative sample of 1,009 Polish adults, the governing Law and Justice party is backed by 40.4 percent of voters with opposition Civic Platform on 22.6 per cent. The anti-establishment Kukiz’15 group is third on 9.8 per cent, and the Modern party is fourth on 8.9 per cent. On top of which, in a new poll by CBOS, president Duda is the most trusted politician on 74 per cent with e prime minister ranked second on 57 per cent. Of course, listening is one thing, how best to react to what one hears quite another.

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