Article 7 Invoked Against Poland

Frans Timmermans

Frans Timmermans

The Deputy Head of the EU Commission Frans Timmermans claims that some progress has been achieved in the dispute between the EU Commission and the Polish government, but there are still issues to be resolved. They are related to problems with the independence of courts and a clear separation of powers. Law and Justice (PiS) wanted to paralyze the Polish Constitutional Court by making it dependent on PiS politicians and then pretending to withdraw from these proposals for two years. Such a scenario is not acceptable for Brussels. The Commission does not accept the illegal dismissal of Małgorzata Gersdorf, President of the Polish Supreme Court. At the moment, PiS is seeking only to find a compromise with Brussels. However, the invocation of Article 7 has taken PiS politicians by surprise as they expected a more moderate approach. The EU Commission has drawn conclusions from previous experiences with Hungary, and it is now acting more firmly. PiS finds itself in a difficult situation. Despite a cabinet re-shuffle, and a new prime minister, PiS has come under fire about the way it has handled the ongoing protest of disabled people in parliament; changes in the law on the Institute of National Remembrance; and high bonuses granted to members of its government.
Gazeta Wyborcza

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PiS Falls in Polls

Dictator?

Polish Dictator?

The leader of Law and Justice (PiS) Jarosław Kaczyński has built his strength with effectiveness and authoritarianism, according to his opponents. However, a unified Civic Platform (PO) and Modern (N) opposition is leading PiS 32% to 29% in a recent poll, for the the first time since 2015. For many voters, strength is sexy in politics, but Kaczyński seduced voters with ‘fake force’. The image of Kaczyński as a demigod who could introduce a bloody dictatorship in a free country in the middle of a democratic Europe was a kind of blind seduction. In an atmosphere of terror, driven by a growing right-wing, PiS flourished, as it was seen as a party so strong that it could do anything. Many citizens want such parties, not only in Poland but throughout Europe. In a world of inequality, unstable employment and uncertainty, the weakening middle class simply wants someone strong, who will restore its sense of control. Liberal politicians do not have it, so voters opt for populism. PiS weakening in the polls has been stripped of its effectiveness, and Kaczyński’s opponents may start to see him more realistically: as a not so strong politician. People will demand accountability for his actions. “Let’s not say that we are in danger of dictatorship, but only shit and chaos,” according to former Kaczyński crony Ludwik Dorn.
gazeta.pl

Corrupt MPs?

Civic Platform (PO) has prepared a draft act which provides that the future heads of political offices at the Ministry of National Defence, the Ministry of the Interior and Administration, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will have to meet specific criteria. These would include having a higher education, at least seven years’ work experience, including two years in a managerial position, and security clearance. The proposal was inspired by the current head of the political office and spokesman of the Ministry of National Defence, Bartłomiej Misiewicz. According to MP Cezary Tomczyk from PO: “In the case of Mr Misiewicz, all boundaries of good taste and decency have been crossed.” Tomczyk hopes that the act will preclude “people like Misiewicz” from taking up important ministerial positions. Marcin Kierwiński, head of the political office of the former PM Ewa Kopacz, also takes a negative view of Misiewicz, calling the spokesman a “symbol of the personnel policy of Minister Macierewicz.” Kierwiński notes that experienced and competent people are leaving the Ministry and are being replaced by the passive and mediocre, yet faithful, functionaries of the current governing party. However, the draft act was criticised by Ryszard Petru from Modern (Nowoczesna), who points out that PO had its chance to pass such legislation when it was in power. He contends that no regulations can change the fact that “a bad government will always find a place for bad, unqualified people.” Last week, Fakt reported that Misiewicz had been seen in a club in Białystok, buying drinks for everyone, hitting on female students and offering them jobs at the Ministry. According to the daily, Misiewicz had been accompanied by a security detail, having had arrived in a ministry-owned car. The spokesman, who denies everything, is currently on leave.
Newsweek

Duda Wave of Popularity

Duda in the House

Duda in the House

In the recent parliamentary elections, one surname was more popular with voters than any other. Candidates who share a surname with the President are particularly sought after. There are now three new MPs and one senator by the name of Duda. Interestingly enough, there was not a single MP called Duda in the previous parliament. Back then, the only Duda to be found in the parliament building was a Civic Platform (PO) senator, Jarosław. The new MPs, much like President Duda, came endorsed by Law and Justice (PiS) and include the uncle of the President. According to sociologist Jarosław Flis, this sudden popularity of candidates sharing the president’s surname calls into question reasons behind the candidates’ success. For instance, Elżbieta Duda managed to secure a seat with 6,555 votes despite being a relatively unknown local politician and standing for election from a low place on her party’s list. Another new MP, Jan Duda, active in Solidarity since the 1980s, garnered 9,100 votes. 8,085 voters chose the President’s uncle, Antoni, head of a local job centre. Interestingly, the previously mentioned PO senator and former deputy minister of labour Jarosław Duda was re-elected with 83,369 votes.
tvn24

Last Hope for Left Wing?

Robert Biedroń

Robert Biedroń

In light of growing support for conservative parties and the devastating defeat of candidates endorsed by the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) and Your Movement (TR) in the recent presidential elections, the mayor of Słupsk Robert Biedroń is seen by many as the last hope for Poland’s left wing. Biedroń, encouraged by his supporters to run for president in the 2020 elections, does not want to commit to anything just yet, explaining that his plans do not extend that far into the future. When it comes to the precarious situation of the left wing before the upcoming parliamentary elections, Biedroń says that leftists need to find a ‘messiah’ of their own if they want to stop the conservatives from winning. For many voters with liberal or leftist inclinations, the recent presidential elections amounted to choosing between the plague or cholera, due to the fact that both candidates who made it to the second round represented conservative circles. In an interview for Gazeta Wyborcza, Biedroń complimented the newly elected president on his conciliatory character, but was quick to add that the ideology that Duda subscribes to is at odds with his own character: “I know that he will impose a conservative, fundamentalist worldview on us. I’m worried about it because Andrzej Duda, much like Law and Justice (PiS), holds reactionary views, which increase divisions and are detrimental to seeing the state as a cohesive unit.”
natemat.pl

PiS MPs Suspended

Days are Numbered

Hofman – Days are Numbered

Last Friday, three Law and Justice (PiS) MPs were suspended as a direct consequence of their ‘official’ trip to Madrid. At the end of October, Adam Hofman, Mariusz A. Kamiński and Adam Rogacki left for Spain to attend a conference. Upon declaring that they were going to travel by car, Kamiński and Hofman received over PLN 10,000 in travel expenses. In reality, they opted to fly with a low-cost carrier instead. The trip attracted media attention when the parliamentarians, accompanied by their wives, caused an incident on board their return flight. As it has transpired, none of the MPs actually showed up at the conference, nor did they appear at any of the official meetings that preceded it. PiS head Jarosław Kaczyński condemned the actions of the parliamentarians and expressed hope that they will be permanently removed from the party before the upcoming elections. “Things like this happen. Our reaction was both firm and unequivocal. We do not tolerate such attitudes and such behaviour, which is what distinguishes us from the ruling party – Civic Platform (PO) members have been guilty of abusing power, but do not suffer any consequences,” added Kaczyński.
Gazeta Wyborcza

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Sikorski Afraid of Neighbours

Radosław Sikorski

Radosław Sikorski

Foreign Affairs Minister Radosław Sikorski has recently boasted about his firearm license being renewed. According to police statistics, he is one of only 21,000 Poles who can legally carry firearms for self-defence. Polish law in this regard is one of the most restrictive in Europe. Not only do applicants need to prove they are in “constant, real, and extraordinary danger” but they also need to undergo psychological evaluations every five years. Minister Sikorski, implicated in the wiretapping scandal earlier this year, has found the evaluation rather amusing as the doctor wanted to know if Sikorski felt that someone was listening in on his conversations. Despite the fact that up to 70% of all applications for firearm license are denied, Sikorski is one of many gun owners amongst Polish politicians. MP Arkadiusz Czartoryski (PiS) and MP Tomasz Kaczmarek (PiS) have suggested that politicians receive preferential treatment. “Nobody will risk saying ‘no’ to parliamentarians who want to carry firearms. However, in many instances, former law enforcement officers are denied the permit even though, I daresay, they are in much graver danger than ‘cheerful Radek’ [Radosław Sikorski],” said Kaczmarek, commenting on the information that Minister Sikorski applied for his license on the grounds that he resides 3 km from a prison.
tvn24.pl

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