>Outfoxed? Polish populists make unlikely marriage

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You could have knocked me down with a feather when I read (in the Slovak) press that Poland’s ultra-Catholic League of Polish Families (LPR) and raucous agrarian populist Self-Defence are to merge into a single grouping to be known as League and Self-Defence (LiS). This cumbersome title allows a punning acronym as ‘lis’ is the Polish for ‘fox’ and the new grouping was launched by Self-Defence’s Andrzej Lepper and the rather younger, smoother LPR leader Roman Giertych holding a cuddly toy fox, which vaguely reminded me of the mascot of the Czech mortgage company ČMSS (see below) or the ever popular British children’s TV character, Basil Brush.

Politically speaking, the move is clearly a response to Self-Defence’s being chucked out of the conservative minority coalition government headed by Law and Justice Party of terrible twins Lech and Jaroslaw Kaczynski and, presumably, to the impending prospect of early elections where the LiS alliance might produce electoral gains (although the dividends of merged blocs are not always as high as their founders imagine). Although both Self-Defence and LPR are anti-liberal, anti-EU and perhaps more rural than urban, they strike me as rather unlikely bedfellows given the rather different social mileux they spring from and the fact that Self-Defence seemed to embody a fairly secular economic populism and relatively agnostic line on decommunization. Lepper’s comment that both groups would ‘retain their identity’ also seemed to contradict the sense of a merger, the organizational and financial mechanics of which would, given the best will in the world, be inevitably be tricky

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