Poles see double as twins bid to occupy top posts

POLITICAL dynasties are not uncommon but Poland has gone a stage further as it faces the prospect of having identical twin brothers simultaneously holding the posts of prime minister and president.

In what would perhaps be the most striking feature of the country's ever-chaotic political scene, President Lech Kaczynski, who took office in December after winning the October election, would swear in his twin Jaroslaw - chairman of the governing Law and Justice party - as head of a new Cabinet if he wins confirmation in parliament.

Since the party won elections last autumn, Jaroslaw Kaczynski has used his role as chairman to guide the government - but always from the sidelines.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

It was the popular prime minister Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz who represented the government in Brussels and other foreign capitals.

But the two apparently fell out over Marcinkiewicz's choice of a new finance minister, and yesterday the party confirmed Marcinkiewicz had resigned and that party officials had recommended Kaczynski as his replacement.

The prospect of having identical, portly, grey-haired, 57-year-old twins in the two top posts has loomed as a possibility since Lech Kaczynski embarked on his presidential campaign last year.

But Jaroslaw had pledged during the campaign that he would refrain from becoming prime minister to help his brother's shot at the presidency, saying he wanted to spare the country the confusion of identical leaders.

Although both men have the same round faces and short, stout builds, many Poles have learned to distinguish them thanks to the fact that Lech has two moles on his face and wears a wedding ring. The unmarried Jaroslaw has neither.

The twins first won fame as child stars in the 1962 hit film The Two who Stole the Moon.

Their show-business careers stopped there, but they became politically active when they joined the anti-communist opposition in the 1970s, and later served as advisers to the Solidarity movement in the 1980s.