The Berlin Wall — both a powerful symbol and a physical barrier that divided the communist East and the democratic West after 1961 — came down 30 years ago this week. Footage of young Germans hammering away at the hated wall dividing communist and Western Europe, then dancing triumphantly at the Brandenburg Gate, were just some of the stirring images of that seemingly miraculous year.
Communism collapsed first in Eastern Europe in 1989-1990 and then in the Soviet Union in 1991.
In short order, the Soviet Union dissolved, as did Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia. Germany reunified. Governments throughout the region held free elections.… Seguir leyendo »
The Polish Law and Justice Party (PiS) government has a new prime minister: Mateusz Morawiecki. In a particularly Polish political twist, the government of Beata Szydło survived a vote of no confidence on the morning of Dec. 7 — only to have Szydło summarily resign later that day.
So what happened, and what does it mean?
Here are five things you need to know.
1. The change in prime minister is mainly symbolic
Mateusz Morawiecki, the new prime minister, is considered the younger, sophisticated and worldly face of the PiS government. Morawiecki was chosen because he appears more credible to the international financial and political community. … Seguir leyendo »
Poland is gripped by its most severe constitutional crisis since the Communist regime declared martial law in 1981, with protesters — both inside parliament and outside in the freezing streets — accusing the ruling party of threatening democracy.
Law and Justice (PiS), the party in power, has roots in the dissident trade union Solidarity, which helped bring down the Communist regime. But it has this in common with the authoritarian Communist PZPR, which ruled Poland between 1948 and 1989: It occupies an absolute majority of seats in the Sejm, the lower house of the Polish Parliament. Unlike the PZPR, it was elected in free and fair elections.… Seguir leyendo »