Jezowe, a five-hour bus ride from Warsaw, is officially designated an agricultural village. But it is one where the agriculture now tends to take place elsewhere. Jezowe’s fields lie mostly fallow; its workers now seek higher-paid jobs in wealthier European Union countries, harvesting grapes in France and cabbages in Germany. Among the village’s weathered wooden houses stand gaudy villas, paid for with euros earned abroad. “Disneyland,” says one resident, pointing to the turrets and gilded fences. The town’s public buildings, too, have been spruced up, mainly with injections of EU cash. A grant of 525,000 zloty ($140,000) paid for the renovation of the old parsonage, which now houses a museum devoted to carved figurines of Christ. In short, Jezowe has done well by the EU. Yet the village has long backed the right-wing Law and Justice party (PiS), a mildly Eurosceptic and socially conservative party that has been in opposition since 2007. The PiS candidate for president, Andrzej Duda, took a startling 92% of the vote here in an election in May; nationwide, he won with a more modest 52%.
The rest of Poland is moving in Jezowe’s direction. With a parliamentary election due on October 25th, one poll puts PiS support at 36%, far ahead of the 22% for the ruling centrist Civic Platform (PO) party. Ewa Kopacz, who succeeded Donald Tusk as prime minister and PO party leader when he became president of the European Council last year, has failed to give her party a new sense of momentum.
Poland’s economy has grown by a third since 2007, when PO came to power. But the country’s rural, conservative east feels neglected. Easterners have the sense that the government is punishing them for voting for the opposition, says Gabriela Maslowska, a PiS member of parliament. What do they lack? “Everything,” says a trade-union activist in the eastern city of Lublin. “This is the backwater of Europe. If it could, Warsaw would fill it with forest.” Only PiS cares, he says.
Full Article: Voting for a better yesterday | The Economist.