Poland's Patriotic Problem Banks - Politics

The outlines of states can give you different ideas: Italy is of course a boot, Romania looks like a puffer fish, France can be reminiscent of a single-family house with a pitched roof, Germany at most a cleaning rag with torn edges. Poland looks like it's tried to square the circle, it's neither perfectly round nor square. What it doesn't remind you of: a seat.

So you can call the idea of ​​the right-wing populist Polish government to set up benches in the shape of the country creative. Since the end of August in each of the 16 voivodeships Poland set up such a bank. A board is attached to the outline of the country, on which a standard park bench stands. You are sitting in the south of Poland, arched over from the north, and you look into your homeland from a kind of stage. The whole thing is painted in white (above) and red, the colors of the flag. Because of the somewhat unstable shape of the land, receding slightly to the south-west, the framework rests on a base painted blue.

Whether that means that Poland, land of endless forests, lakes and mountains, is riding the swaying crest of the Baltic Sea or it is simply the colors of the ruling PiS party - one thing is certain: white, red and blue are also the national colors in a different arrangement the neighbors Czech Republic, Slovakia - and Russia. Ironically, Russia has been an ever-threatening enemy in the eyes of many Poles, and not just since the beginning of the war in Ukraine.

The instructions for using these high seats are similar to those for an elevator: there is a limit of 225 kilos or three people at a time per bench. Waiting people should please keep a minimum distance of 1.5 meters. Drinking alcohol is not allowed while sitting, animals must stay outside. The name "patriotic benches" quickly caught on in newspapers and social media. If the government wanted to cheer up the people in hard times, they have achieved their goal. The Internet is overflowing with jokes about this idea, which various Polish media report originated in the prime minister's office Mateusz Morawiecki Has.

What looks like satire was expensive: 100,000 złoty each of the covered benches in national colors costs 1.6 million zloty in total, which corresponds to around 350,000 euros. The project is financed by the state bank Gospodarstwa Krajowego, which reports to the Prime Minister. The bank's CEO, Beata Daszyńska-Muzyczka, feels misunderstood by the media and internet commentators. It's not about benches, but about "installations," she explained to radio station TOK FM. The purpose: to draw attention to investments made by the public sector in Poland. Linked to the message, the manager said: "Stay in Poland."

It rained recently. For the patriotic installation in Poznań had visible consequences: The colors were washed off, the plywood panels swelled. The first question that arises is how long the benches will remain.

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