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[Opinion] Twin Politicians

Posted September. 28, 2005 07:35,   


The famous U.S. anchorwoman Connie Chung asked Marlon Brando in an interview, “What influenced you the most to become an actor?” He answered, “A twin brother of mine smoked the same brand of cigarette I did after the long years of separation since our birth.” He did not get the question wrong. He intended to say he had a given talent to be an actor rather than being trained to be so. Identical twins have the same genes. If separately raised, twins show the same tendencies; it is nature instead of nurture that plays the role. Scholars say identical twins have the same personality, intelligence, and even political tendencies.

Something unusual may happen in Poland: twin brothers may become president and prime minister respectively. They are the prime ministerial candidate Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the chairman of the “Law and Justice Party,” which ranked as the top rightist party at the September 25 election and Lech Kaczynski, the presidential candidate for the October 9 presidential election. Lech, who was born 45 minutes after his brother, has moles on his cheek and nose, which are the only difference from his twin brother. They look almost the same, and there are even rumors that one of them took an exam for the other. Their commonalities also include their insistency, honesty, emphasis on traditional values, and market economy. Their lack of experience in foreign affairs is the same.

In the 1980s, the two led the democratization movement in Poland by joining the “solidarity” activities of free labor unions. However, even after the collapse of communism in 1989, democracy and prosperity were not immediately available. The ruling party, Social Democracy of Poland, was corrupt and incompetent, so the growth rate was merely four percent, and the employment rate surged to as high as 17.9 percent. Even college graduates were lucky to get a job at fast food restaurants. The Kaczynski brothers gained the public trust by campaigning on employment and massive welfare reforms. Der Spiegel of Germany commented on the success of these rightists, “Poland did what Germany hesitantly was lagging to do.”

The story of the twin president and prime minister may be an interesting source for a movie, but not so for the Polish. They seem to feel negative about the twin brothers with similar tendencies leading the government concurrently. Possibly having that in mind, the caring-hearted Jaroslaw already said, “I will not be a prime minister if my brother becomes the president.” It is not certain whether there will be a twin president, but the future of Poland, which has chosen “growth over distribution,” seems certain.

Kim Soon-duk, Editorial writer, yuri@donga.com