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Jerzy Buzek, a Polish phoenix

The new head of the European Parliament remade his political career on the EU stage.

The idea of pushing a Pole to the largely symbolic but very visible post even achieved the seemingly impossible task of uniting Poland’s normally fractious political parties behind Buzek. From the ex-Communist left to the right-wing Law and Justice party, all of Poland’s European members of parliament voted for Buzek.

“It’s very good that a Pole became the head of the European Parliament,” Adam Lipinski, the deputy head of Law and Justice and normally a foe of Buzek’s Civic Platform, told the Gazeta Wyborcza newspaper. “It increases Poland prestige, and besides, Buzek’s heart beats on the side of Poland, and you have to take advantage of that.”

Buzek’s advance is part of a potential wider wave of Poles finding top jobs at international institutions as the country of 38 million takes its place in some of the world’s most prestigious clubs. Although Radek Sikorski, the foreign minister, lost his long-shot bid to become the head of the NATO alliance, Marek Belka, a former prime minister, is one of the most senior officials at the International Monetary Fund.

Another former prime minister, the ex-Communist Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz, is a serious candidate for becoming the secretary general of the Council of Europe, an organization integrating most of the countries of the continent.

Buzek has now become one of the most popular politicians in Poland, even rivaling the support received by Donald Tusk, the prime minister, in recent opinion polls. He is even being mentioned as a potential candidate in next year’s presidential elections, although that seems to be a bit of a long shot.

The man himself seems to have little interest in returning to the Polish politics that almost destroyed him. Using an analogy from his coal mining home region of Silesia, he recently told the Polish edition of Newsweek: “If we call politics a mine, then in Poland I’ve worked below, and in Belgium and France I’m working up on top. I prefer working up there than working at the mine face.”

More GlobalPost dispatches on Polish politics:

Poland's anniversary of democracy

Walesa watches history pass him by

Poland's long road to better infrastructure

 

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/poland/090717/jerzy-buzek-european-parliament