Monday, February 22, 2010

Poland’s Former Deputy PM Gets Prison Sentence in Sex Scandal

From: WSJ
Former Polish Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Andrzej Lepper
In Poland’s conflict-ridden years of 2005-2007 when the previous government had to resort to support from populists and nationalists to pass legislation, a simple farmer with a criminal record was made a deputy prime minister to secure parliamentary backing behind the conservative minority.

Now that simple farmer is on his way to prison for demanding sexual favors from female colleagues in his party.

Andrzej Lepper has always been the enfant terrible of the Polish political scene, known mostly for his road blockages. Many thought he was unelectable to any public office until 2001 when, amid massive dissatisfaction with sky-high unemployment at the time, his Self-Defense party and the far-right League of Polish Families won seats in Parliament.

It wasn’t before 2005 that Lepper felt he was finally someone important. His party’s support was instrumental for the largest conservative grouping in Parliament that lacked majority to govern. In 2006, he was finally made a deputy prime minister.

Because of his rowdy past, in 2007 he had had more than 100 criminal and civil lawsuits and six sentences against him. Many of his party colleagues had a similar past.

So when in late 2006 a newspaper alleged Lepper demanded sexual favors in return for party jobs, it wasn’t his first criminal case and it wouldn’t be the last. He was finally kicked out of the government amid a corruption scandal the following year before his party failed to get any seats or public funding in the 2007 election, leaving him completely sidelined.

And now this latest criminal sentence, even though it can be and will be appealed, is somewhat of a wooden stake right through Lepper’s political heart. Two years and three months in prison — that’s pretty bad.

That he’s not being missed must be much worse to Lepper who for six years of his life considered himself important.