The leadership skill is one of the more desirable skills in most of the positions nowadays. Leadership can be defined as a skill that encompasses the ability of an individual to guide and manage others. In this essay leadership styles of heads of two countries, Belarus and Poland will be compared. Despite the fact Belarus and Poland have the common history and culture, even languages are similar, the leadership styles of both rulers are quite different. Just like in Poland, presidential elections in Belarus are scheduled for 2020, so, populations of both countries have a chance this year to change the heads.
Belarussian by origin, I was born in the country that had only one President from the moment of dissolution of the Soviet Union. His name is Alexander Lukashenko, and he is the president of our country for almost 26 years. He has been elected 5 times in a row because Belarus does not have any restrictions about the number of reelections. In 1994 no one suspected that in 26 years the country will have the same permanent President.
Future President grew up without a father in a small village. At school, he was a difficult pupil and was registered in the police because of his minor offenses. Alexander Lukashenko is the historian by his first degree. He started his career from managing the collective farm. His political career has started in 1989 when he ran in the elections of people’s deputies of the USSR but lost in the second round to another candidate with a difference of 1 % of the vote.
In 1990, during the ‘perestroika’ period, he was elected a people’s Deputy of the Supreme Council of Belarus. As head of the temporary Commission of the Supreme Council of the Republic, he became known for his critical statements against the Chairman of the Supreme Council.
In 1994 Lukashenko won the elections in the conditions of economic crisis, geopolitical uncertainty, in the period of fighting corruption, promising to “launch factories” and “restore broken ties with Russia”. These promises were very close to the Belarussians, so, Lukashenko had a lot of charisma and promises. Alexander Lukashenko is still a non-party leader. After the elections, there were referendums the main task of which was to amend the Constitution. The limitations on the number of reelections were removed and the Russian language became the government language. Because of these changes in the Constitution Lukashenko’s leadership style often called authoritarian. In my opinion, such characteristics as charisma and eloquence. Also, he was showing that he is very close to the problems of common people, especially those from the villages. The combination of these actions and character traits helped him become President.
Andrzej Duda is the President of Poland since 2015. Like Lukashenko, Duda was close to politics before he was elected. After his graduation from the Faculty of Law and Administration of the Jagellonian University in Krakow, he obtained his Ph.D. degree in law. In 2005 he joined the “Law and Justice” (PiS) party. In 2010 he tried to become a Krakow’s mayor but failed. In 2011 he became a deputy in the Sejm. In the Sejm, Duda left behind pleasant memories. They spoke about him as one of the most active deputies and positively noted the content of his speeches in Parliament. In 2014 he was approved by his party to be a candidate on the presidential election in 2015 and won them during the second round. During the election campaign, Duda showed himself as a young, well-educated and active candidate who, despite his conservative views, is not afraid to use modern tools to be with the younger voters.
For example, if to compare these two presidents in terms of cultural communication and speech clarity, it is noticeable that President Lukashenko uses not quite literary expressions, allows harsh statements, and speaks a mixture of Russian and Belarusian. See on television that Lukashenko is shouting in anger at officials is completely a normal thing. Public insults and negative statements to the public were always present in Lukashenko’s speeches, but since the early 2000s, they have become more frequent. Otherwise, Andrzej Duda is very polite in his speeches. He would never express his negative emotions publicly.
Poland is a very religious country when Belarus was included in the Top 11 Least Religious Countries in 2009. President of Poland, Andrzej Duda is Catholic by religion but does not allow to mention God in his speeches. Alexander Lukashenko is an “Orthodox atheist” by his own words, but often, especially recently, mentions God in his speeches. I support the position of the officials of Poland because it is better for politicians to be neutral in areas if they do not want to offend someone.
The relationships with the neighboring countries also indicate different leadership styles. The Polish government is aimed to stay close to the European Union and has good relationships with the closest countries, for example, Ukraine. Belorussian government, otherwise, does not have good relationships even with Russia because of some speeches of Lukashenko. So, the President of Poland is more open in foreign policy than the Belorussian President. In my opinion, it is essential to keep close to other countries and have good relations with them.
In March 2020 COVID-19 came both to Belarus and Poland. The leaders of these two neighboring countries have radically different points of view on the pandemic. At a time when the Polish President recognized the pandemic as a dangerous situation, calls on the people to unite in the face of a common threat and takes some measures to contain the spread of the virus, President Lukashenko considers the current situation ‘a psychosis in the minds of citizens’. No restrictive measures were taken to contain the virus; in addition, Lukashenko blames the infected themselves for the death of those infected, accusing them of acquiring chronic diseases. Belarus remains the only country in Europe with open borders.
In both Poland and Belarus, the Presidents are not going to postpone elections to a later date. According to Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, the peak of the epidemic in Poland will happen from May to June. Presidential elections fall during this period. President Duda says that in the case of postponing the elections, the country will be drawn in chaos. The opposition calls the population to boycott the elections arguing that it is against the Constitution and that people’s health is more important than elections. The position around electives does not show both leaders from the positive side, but now the population of Belarus starts to the Belarussian leader values his nation less than Poland’s president and the Victory Marsh is more important than the people’s lives.
In Belarus, elections are planned on the 9th of August 2020. This was announced on the 8th of May. The day before, a major opposition blogger was detained by the security services. Given that he was going to register as a presidential candidate, now he has no possibility to do this because he will leave the pre-trial detention center only after the registration deadline. It is a common situation because at the end of the 1990s some major politicians from the oppositions have disappeared. Despite the fact the public knows who gave the order to kidnap these people, no consequences followed. This may seem improbable for the 21st century, but no one is taking any action. This shows the best level of power and authority of the President in Belarus.
The difference between the two countries can be seen in the differences in attitude to the countries’ past. When Poland is aimed to forget about the totalitarian USSR regime and prevent the appearance of any other totalitarian regime, Belarus and its leaders praise the past by perpetuating it in the names of streets and squares. In my opinion, this is one of the reasons why the Belorussian leader’s leadership style is more like the dictator one because he returns to the past. Moreover, some media call Lukashenko “the last dictator in Europe”.
So, the difference in leadership styles can be clearly seen in the above examples. In 2016 Duda has issued the order about “decommunization”. When the President in Poland respects democracy and criticizes the totalitarian regimes, the Belorussian leader concentrates all the power in his own hands and builds the regime like the totalitarian one. In my opinion, Lukashenko is a stronger and more autocratic leader than Duda, but the price of such power negatively affects the people and the political situation in the country. History knows some examples of strong leaders, but their nations suffered from such leaders. But the biographies of the politicians above show us that it does not matter what education do you have: agrarian, like Belarussian President, or in the field of law, like Polish President. In our days everyone can become a politician, but it is much harder to become a successful politician. The main secret of being a successful politician is to have a set of leadership characteristics. They can be positive or negative, but their development can help everyone to become a strong leader.