Sunday 27 October 2002 saw the equivalent of mid-term elections in Poland. Locally, it was time to elect a new mayor. Unlike probably any other contest in the nation, there were only two candidates to mayor.
First was the incumbent, Mariusz Murzyniak. Some said he was the favorite because of his experience in the office. Yet he’s an “outsider,” hired by the previous mayor and the appointed mayor when the then-mayor was elected to the Sejm (Polish Congress) a few years ago.
His challenger was Bogdan Jazowski, a history teacher in the high school and director of the middle school. Some said he was the favorite because of his native status. Yet his lack of political experience have counted against him.
Most of the people I asked about it during the weeks running up to the election said there was no clear favorite. That night, after the election while the votes were being counted, a friend who’d been in the office where they were counting said it was too close to call.
The results the next day are somewhat staggering. “Too close to call” is a ridiculous understatement. Murzyniak, the incumbent, won by a single vote. One vote. It seems almost too bizarre to be true.
Recall the political wrangling after the 2000 election? Count, recount, re-recount. The difference there was a matter of several thousand votes. Here, one. One. And Jazowski’s reaction when he came into the teachers’ room that morning and was asked how things were? A shrug of the shoulders and one word: “przygrałem.” “I lost.”
If one who’d voted for Murzyniak had stayed home — perhaps an emergency of some sort, or sheer laziness — there would have been a tie. If two had stayed home…
Or perhaps there are two Jazowski supporters out there who didn’t go vote because they didn’t think their vote would make a difference…
One class that Monday were working on passive voice, so I introduced the lesson by talking about the election, then writing on the board, “It is said that the election was won by one vote.” Gotta see a teaching opportunity in everything . . .