July 08, 2006
Political collapse leaves twins in control of Poland
By Roger Boyes
THE identical Kaczynski twins, Europes most unusual
political partnership, last night took over the reins
of power in Poland after the Government collapsed.
Jaroslaw Kaczynski will take over as Prime Minister
from Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz, it was announced, ending
weeks of often bitter in-fighting within the
conservative Law and Justice Party. Mr Kaczynski, 57,
is older by a few minutes than Lech Kaczynski, who is
the countrys President.
Most Poles cannot tell them apart. One of the few
distinguishing marks is the cat hairs on the trousers
of Jaroslaw, who lives alone with his pets.
The immediate reason for the political crisis appears
to be talks held between Mr Marcinkiewicz and Donald
Tusk, leader of the opposition Civic Platform. The
governing coalition parties suspected that the Prime
Minister was trying to sound out the terms of a
possible new coalition. All trust appears to have
broken down between Mr Marcinkiewicz and one of his
key allies, the volatile Andrzej Lepper.
Jaroslaw Kaczynski has always tried to avoid becoming
Prime Minister because of the apparent absurdity of
having two identical brothers running the country. But
the present crisis has left him no choice: without
him, the right-wing conservative alliance would have
It has already become one of the most controversial
governments in the region. Although the Law and
Justice-led government is committed to market reform,,
its strident nationalism and commitment to Catholic
values has given it the reputation of being the least
tolerant nation in Eastern Europe.
The twins are on the same political wavelength. Both
are sceptical of a more deeply integrated European
Union, and both are thin-skinned about what they see
as slighting behaviour by Polands big neighbours,
Germany and Russia.
The latest dispute this week saw President Kaczynski
refusing to turn up at a trilateral meeting in Weimar
with Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, and
President Chirac of France. He claimed to have a
stomach ailment. Most observers, however, believe he
was upset by a satirical attack on him carried by a
low-circulation left-wing German newspaper.