WARSAW, Poland – The United States has its political power families – the Kennedys, the Clintons, the Bushes. But nothing quite like what has developed in Poland, which faces the almost certain prospect Saturday of having identical twins as prime minister and president.
President Lech Kaczynski prepared to swear in his twin, Jaroslaw, as the head of a new Cabinet after Prime Minister Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz submitted his resignation.
Though 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. Jaroslaw is unmarried, and has no moles.
The 57-year-old twins – who happen to be Geminis – first won fame as child actors in the 1962 hit film “The Two Who Stole The Moon.” Though their show-business careers stopped there, they became politically active when they joined the anti-communist opposition in the 1970s. They later served as advisers to the Solidarity movement in the 1980s.
After the fall of communism, they served briefly as advisers to Solidarity leader Lech Walesa during his 1990-95 presidency, but later fell out with him.
Jaroslaw Kaczynski has used his role as chairman of the ruling Law and Justice party to guide the government from the sidelines since his social conservatives won elections last fall. The popular Marcinkiewicz has represented the government abroad.
The two apparently fell out over Marcinkiewicz’s choice of a new finance minister. On Saturday, party officials accepted Marcinkiewicz’s resignation and said they had chosen Jaroslaw Kaczynski to replace him. The nominee said at a news conference that he accepted.
The prospect of having portly, gray-haired identical twins in the two top posts has loomed as a possibility since Lech Kaczynski embarked on his presidential campaign last year.
But Jaroslaw Kaczynski had pledged to refrain from becoming prime minister, saying he wanted to spare the country the confusion of identical leaders.
As quirky as the situation might seem to outsiders, the strangeness of two identical men dominating the political scene has worn off to some extent for Poles, in part because the two have been a public presence for nearly half a century.