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Sylwia Presley
Social Media Consultant (United Kingdom)

Always interested in social media, the 2010 web, marketing, photography and design, activism, domestic abuse, currently focussed studying for CIM Marketing Diploma in Oxford and working in non for profit sector, as well as for Global Voices.


My Story #2 - How do we re-build governance in Poland now?

Published 12th April 2010 - 7 comments - 2901 views -

Poland lives difficult times this week, week of national mourning. We have lost our President, his wife and 94 other officials in Saturday plane crash over Smolensk. We have lost our church leaders, army leaders, major politicians as well as leaders of organizations related to Katyn tragedy. The complexity of the current situation is indescribable.

First of all, we are all in the state of shock and deep, deep sadness. Imagine when a celebrity passes away - how does the entire country react? Now multiply that 96 times adding the fact, that most of those 'celebrities' had immediate impact on the governance, safety, spiritual leadership of majority of your nation. The entire Polish web is in colors of grief!

Secondly, we live the question: why? With the basic understanding of the fact that the crash was avoidable (pilots were instructed not to land, fly to alternative airport instead) and perfectly understandable in this moment need to understand the pain of many families, we start to speculate to calm our senses, even though we know, we have to wait for official statements.

There is also a question of Polish - Russian relationships. Putin is clearly over-delivering, Russians based in the area of accident are so supportive that they make Polish families cry and entire web is full of Russian citizens posting their condolences - even in leading Polish on-line forums.

But the major challenge is the governance we are left with. Last night Bronisław Komorowski, who stepped into the role of country leader temporarily, made a list of first assignments that need to happen int he government which seen in one press article made me shiver and placed entirely irrational thought in my head: 'we have no one left!'. Irrational, because we do have many talented people here who will be able to fulfill newly assigned functions with dignity, however the situation is extremely sensitive and requires gentle acts, decisions, even wording.

As Komorowski said, when referring to new presidential elections:

"I am doing my best as much as I can, as much as I am capable of making decisions, which do not offend anyone, do not hurt anyone, and at the same time quarantee any functionality of the areas of Polish state where Polish Constitution states I have my duties."

We are left with so many questions and so much pain! Who will take it from here? How are we going to manage? Are we mature enough to see our politicians approach this with dignity? is posting a horrible speech made in Cathedral of Przemysl (actual recording here, if you speak Polish) full of political statements, hate, racism, intolerance and infuriating agenda of Catholic church to refer to completely unrelated topic, like abortion. It's just a drop in the sea of potential misconducts against the current state of our country, but also our nation.

This is why today I stay convinced that while people like Komorowski fulfill their duties promptly, it becomes our story and our task to grieve for the lost souls, but also to watch the national arena carefully: read, comments and discuss each and single step of new governance with honesty, kindness and hope that the new discourse will lead to the new type of recovery - one led by the nation and for the nation. It is the nation who can overcome tragical twists of history and I believe it aplies to all nations.

As Roger Cohen put it nicely:

"It is this Poland that is now at peace with its neighbors and stable. It is this Poland that has joined Germany in the European Union. It is this Poland that has just seen the very symbols of its tumultuous history (including the Gdansk dock worker Anna Walentynowicz and former president-in-exile Ryszard Kaczorowski) go down in a Soviet-made jet and responded with dignity, according to the rule of law.

So do not tell me that cruel history cannot be overcome. Do not tell me that Israelis and Palestinians can never make peace. Do not tell me that the people in the streets of Bangkok and Bishkek and Tehran dream in vain of freedom and democracy. Do not tell me that lies can stand forever.

Ask the Poles. They know."

I place it here not to shock or sadden you, but to inspire you and most of all ask one more question of you, people from all around the world (yes, at the back of my head hoping for some kind of reassurance): in the new world of globalization, translation tools and new channels of communication; in the world of democracies learning to question their governors and in the world of more and more open dialogue - is it possible to do it together? Is it possible in your region?

(visual source:

Category: Politics | Tags:


  • Zofia on 12th April 2010:

    As a Pole married to Hungarian, living in Hungary, I received many calls, emails, just “simple hugs” from Hungarians, as a sign: they assist us in the pain.
    I agree with Tomasz Stefanek, who wrote about responsibility we must not get used to, do not even accept the mission history seems to persuade us, that undeserved tragic events that has happened to us are to continuously confirm the truth we are standing for, and we should be always ready for mourning.
    In my opinion we, the nations who live in the Central Europe can see this tragedy as a kind of katharsis.

  • Andrei Tuch on 13th April 2010:

    Sylwia, to your question: yes, it’s possible. Times of great tragedy are also those that produce the best inspiration. The Smolensk crash will undoubtedly be a historical landmark in Poland, and the events of the next few months will be taught in history books.

    My condolences on your country’s loss.

    Now then: I’m interested in what will happen next. From the descriptions I’ve seen, the President’s party is currently in the minority, and Komorowski was the most likely candidate to challenge Kaczynski in the next election. I would not be surprised if the population was instead shocked into voting in the President’s twin brother, just to continue the legacy. How do you think the election will go?

  • Sylwia Presley on 13th April 2010:

    Zofia, I agree. I also hope that the reality of the fact that there is need for many leadership positions to be filled in is not going to give anyone opportunity to live with it without transparent processes - hence my point on nation’s involvement.
    Andrei, thank you for warm words!  In terms of elections it’s just as exciting as challenging it might seem. I am unable to say what are the changes of both mentioned candidates as I think it will depend highly on how they behave for next few weeks, as well as on the results of investigation and the sentiment those will raise in the nation. I agree with Komorsowski - he, and whoever else goes for the job, are walking on thin ice - one word said in a wrong time can hurt, offend, and lead to loss of trust which they need for this post.

    If you look at it in more topline manner - the nation is more mature than it ever was, so I see Polish public questioning everything, demanding answers and actual solutions. We have a tendency to seek sophisticated explanations to all actions, so I think we will see the most exciting elections ever, which not only Poles will use as a case study. I am interested myself to see the nature of this campaign leading up to elections - I cannot imagine the usual promises and pointing fingers policy this time, as many will perceive it as improper. The same goes for potential criticism towards deceased President’s politics. I personally want to see a politician who is able to manage the grief (stop unnecessary, but flowing in our blood martyrdom) and use the unity wisely - curate it and lead to stronger government. I personally think Kaczynski will find it hard to follow his brother’s legacy, as that was not popular and accident will not change it. Komorowski on the other hand might will simply because he is doing good job managing the crisis and staying humble. Is anyone else going to step in? let’s see..

  • Iris Cecilia Gonzales on 13th April 2010:


    This is a touching post. Even us here as far as the Philippines were very shocked to hear about what happened. It’s very, very shocking indeed to say the least. I think Poland and its people will take it one day at a time…It’s not going to be easy…

  • Ivaylo Vasilev on 13th April 2010:

    Thank you for this post… Something had to be written about.

  • Larisa Rankovic on 15th April 2010:

    I hope Poland will once again find its way ahead soon.

  • Sylwia Presley on 15th April 2010:

    Thank you, Ivaylo.

    Larisa, I hope so too! I think we are ok with governance and economy (currency rates did not even tremble) but we suffer a huge identity crisis…

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