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Poles, be proud of your politics!

Apparently there's going to be an election. I know this because all the posters for PVC windows have been replaced by posters featuring men wearing suits and trying to look sympathetic and decisive at the same time.
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Polish politicians have no interest in me because I can't vote and I, therefore, have no interest in Polish politicians. I am, however, interested in the process of Polish politics. The most interesting thing about Polish politics is the paradox of Poland spending 50 years fighting for democracy, and then the last 20 years complaining at great length about how much they hate democratic politicians.

Despising the things politician say is a healthy and sane thing to do, but the Polish attitude goes deeper than that – they seem to be disgruntled with the quality of Polish politics. They see their politicians as unsophisticated – an embarrassment on the world stage. In fact, the complete opposite is true. Poland is one of the last places in Europe where there is genuine passion and choice in politics.

You may or may not agree with the Defenders of the Cross, but you can't deny they believed in what they were doing. The last time we had riot police on British streets it was because of teenagers stealing Nikes and flat screen TVs. At least Poland's voters have views and passions that extend beyond expensively branded consumer products. I'm tired of Poles being embarrassed about their politics. UK politics is a 90-year-old man who hasn't moved from his chair since 1964, Polish politics is Johnny Depp in a pirate costume.

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Poster bans

To the casual observer, this looked like a debacle. First the news was telling us there would be no political advertising, then we were watching adverts with politicians in them, and then a short time later standing still in the street for more than five minutes could result in a poster of Sylwia Ługowska being plastered across your back.

This was pure and healthy democracy in action. One party had a radical idea and used its majority position to push it through. The other party had the opposite view and used the constitutional court to win its case. This was a big, important issue resolved entirely by the judicial and political institutions of the state. That's a very good thing, not something to be embarrassed about.

Poles don't know how lucky they are. In the UK, this issue would never even have been made public. Party managers would have met over in expensive restaurants and mutually decided on a course of action that ensured nothing changed too radically and that all their friends in advertising continued to make money.

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Politicians saying stupid things

Leszek Miller recently said we need more hot chicks in politics. A few months ago Robert Węgrzyn said he didn't like the idea of gay marriage but wouldn't mind watching as long as lesbians were involved. There are a dozen other examples. Poles held their heads in their hands and despaired about what the rest of the world would think of them.

I'll tell you what the rest of the world was thinking, we were thinking: "I wish we still had politicians that acted like normal human beings instead of marketing robots." Western politicians are so carefully trained that they wouldn't swear on camera if you set them on fire and kicked them squarely in the testicles. You can never truly agree with them because you can never know what they truly think.

This is not a problem in Poland. If a Polish politician thinks that all Russian imports should be stamped with the words "Buy this if you a traitor," he will simply go ahead and say this. He might be wrong, or a xenophobic lunatic, but it's better for voters to find out about this now rather than in 30 years when his autobiography is published.

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Promotional videos released by Polish election candidates are awesome. I've seen female candidates punching their message home with karate blows, a dude in a suit belting out a growling Death Metal song, and a guy who looks like a mad professor cycling around on a bicycle with the world's smallest wheels. They were all so amateurish they made Krzyżacy look like Avatar. A lot of people make rude comments about them on YouTube because they look unprofessional. This is actually a blessing – professional politicians are the worst thing for democracy. They know how to look and sound like politicians on TV, but you have no idea whether they actually believe in anything. If you go to a doctor, it’s nice if they look and sound like a TV doctor, but it’s far healthier if they actually know something about medicine.

Jamie Stokes

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