Polonia

Last weekend, Poland’s voters went to the polls — and delivered a divided Parliament. The controversial Law and Justice (PiS) party maintained its majority in the lower house of Parliament, the Sejm, winning the same number of seats — 235 of 460 — as in the 2015 election. However, the Senate, which had been controlled by PiS, was narrowly won by the opposition with 51 of 100 seats. That threatens PiS’s dominance, which critics believe has undermined the country’s democratic institutions.

How did the opposition manage to win control of the Senate?

Here’s how: The three main opposition parties joined in an informal alliance, specifically to oppose PiS.…  Seguir leyendo »

Quizás la razón primordial detrás del triunfo de Ley y Justicia (PiS, en siglas polacas) en las elecciones del domingo sea que durante su mandato llevó a cabo un programa de políticas sociales de redistribución de riqueza muy generosas. Empezando por el programa de “500+” de ayudas directas a familias con más de un hijo. No sirvió para elevar la tasa de natalidad, pero sí supuso una ayuda para las familias con dificultades y —en palabras del partido gobernante— “una redistribución del prestigio”.

Los críticos acusan al Gobierno de compra de votos con dinero público. Vistas las promesas de campaña (segunda paga extra para jubilados sin mirar al presupuesto) es razonable verlo así.…  Seguir leyendo »

The button of a PiS supporter on election day. Photo: Getty Images.

The Polish election on 13 October resulted, as expected, in a victory for of the ruling Law and Justice party (PiS).

But despite again securing a slim majority in parliament, it has not been wholly a triumph for PiS. And though there continue to be concerns about the party’s authoritarian tendencies, the election has illuminated some important nuances to its support and appeal, which hold lessons for politics across Europe.

Even though some opinion polls had suggested PiS were close to winning a supermajority in parliament that would have allowed it to pursue constitutional changes, the party fell short of that target, while it lost its majority in the Senate.…  Seguir leyendo »

Poland goes to the polls this Sunday

On Sunday, Poland will elect a new Parliament. Over the past four years, the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party has made international headlines for policies that undermine democracy. Despite this, the party is on track to remain the strongest faction in the lower house of Parliament, the Sejm. However, it’s not clear that the party will win the majority of seats.

In the 2015 election, PiS won 235 of 460 Sejm seats with only 37.58 percent of the vote. That’s because more than 16 percent of votes were cast for parties that failed to clear the minimum national electoral threshold to be seated in Parliament.…  Seguir leyendo »

‘Despite polling that suggests Law and Justice will secure the best results of any single party in the post-1989 period, there is much to suggest the country is increasingly divided.’ Photograph: Wojtek Radwański/AFP via Getty

In the decades since the end of Communism, Poland has rarely been a country of mass demonstrations. It has never had its equivalent of Ukraine’s Euromaidan, for instance. But the four years since the Law and Justice party (PiS) came to power have been marked by public demonstrations – from nationalist commemorations of independence day and Catholic-run “marches for life and family” to LGBT rights parades, pro-choice protests and the Campaign to Defend Democracy’s [KOD] fight against the government’s perceived weakening of the constitution.

Sunday’s parliamentary election can be viewed as a test of the relative success of these different campaigns.…  Seguir leyendo »

Museum of the Second World War, Gdańsk: ‘The museum’s special focus was to be on the global context of the war and the fate of civilians in the bloody conflict.’ Photograph: Czarek Sokołowski/AP

Populists treat the past like fast food: they go straight for what’s tasty and comforting for them, leaving aside the bits that might be healthier and more nutritious for all. But the honest study of history is not about making you feel good. Take the case of the second world war and how, 80 years after the invasion of Poland, a dispute in Gdańsk over a museum about the war is playing out.

The populists in Poland’s ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party have meddled so much in redrafting the narrative conveyed both by the museum and its main exhibition that four Polish historians involved with the institution’s creation and launch have been left with little choice but to go to court.…  Seguir leyendo »

Here in Poland, the ruling Law and Justice party has repeatedly demonstrated an extraordinary capacity for ruthless cynicism. Yet even seasoned political observers have reacted with astonishment to its latest maneuver: Party functionaries have just decided to suspend parliament. They plan to resume it on — Oct. 15, two days after the upcoming parliamentary election.

It was merely the latest move by the government aimed at undermining democratic norms.

Will voters condone it? We’re about to see. Next month’s elections will essentially be a plebiscite on the rule of Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the strong and unchallenged leader of the ruling party. Supported by his parliamentary majority and a subservient president, Kaczynski has so far governed according to the classic authoritarian script.…  Seguir leyendo »

This week, next to the name of our newspaper, we have put the sentence: “There is no freedom without solidarity.” We used it for the first time when we were reclaiming freedom back in 1989. It expressed our joint efforts to build a new state based on principles of democracy, solidarity and community.

Now it returns to our front page because the times in which we live yet again require this same noble message and commitment.

We are asking for your solidarity with all those who, for the past four years, have been subjected to different forms of exclusion by the current Polish authorities.…  Seguir leyendo »

Indudablemente, es muy fácil señalar con el dedo al culpable. Es el Gobierno del partido Ley y Justicia (PiS en sus siglas polacas), que acudió a la cumbre de Bruselas con un solo nombre en su agenda: el de Frans Timmermans. Sin embargo, el primer ministro Mateusz Morawiecki no quería que fuese elegido, sino más bien vetarlo como candidato para el puesto de presidente de la nueva Comisión Europea. Timmermans, primer vicepresidente de la Comisión saliente, supervisó en Polonia los procedimientos disciplinarios por infringir el Estado de derecho. Hablamos —sin exageración alguna— del político occidental más odiado por la derecha polaca.…  Seguir leyendo »

La policía llamó a la puerta de su casa a las 6:10 de la mañana. Tras el registro, trasladó a Elzbieta Podlesna a la comisaría. La psicóloga y activista fue puesta a disposición judicial acusada de ofensa de sentimientos religiosos al profanar el icono de la Virgen Negra de Czestochowa. El ministro del Interior agradeció en Twitter a la policía por la detención de la sospechosa y añadió: “ningún cuento de libertad ni toleranciale da derecho a nadie a faltar el respeto a los sentimientos de los creyentes”.

¿En qué ha consistido el supuesto hecho delictivo de Podlesna? Había pegado carteles con la imagen de la Virgen con un arco iris en su aureola en los alrededores de una iglesia.…  Seguir leyendo »

Criticar a las instituciones de la Unión Europea y exigir que se reformen es un pasatiempo popular. Pero, como dejó en claro el frente unificado que mostró la UE durante las interminables negociaciones sobre Brexit, las instituciones europeas son notablemente efectivas en cuanto a gestionar la diversidad política. Por más perverso que a algunos parezca, los Estado nación pueden aprender de Europa como abordar sus propias falencias democráticas.

Tales deficiencias son especialmente evidentes en Polonia, donde un sistema político altamente centralizado crea una dinámica perniciosa en la que el ganador se lleva todo. Debido a que el partido en el poder se apoya en una mayoría pasajera, tiene un fuerte incentivo para cimentar sus logros legislativos a través de una extralimitación constitucional.…  Seguir leyendo »

Protesters hold umbrellas while lying on the ground next to a barrier guarded by police men during a demonstration in front of the Sejm building in Warsaw, Poland, on July 20, 2017. (Bartlomiej Zborowski/EPA)

In late February, the mayor of Warsaw issued a declaration combating discrimination against LGBT people by providing better sex education in schools and creating a city shelter for LGBT individuals kicked out by their families.

This brought a furious backlash from Poland’s governing populist Law and Justice party and other social conservatives ranging from soccer fans to Church representatives. For now, the backlash has taken the form of toxic public rhetoric, notably by politicians mobilizing for upcoming elections. But in a country where a mayor known for supporting gay rights and other liberal causes was recently stabbed at a televised charity event, such rhetoric can be explosive.…  Seguir leyendo »

«Creo que Polonia será un espacio libre de LGTB”, declaró una importante diputada del partido en el Gobierno, Ley y Justicia (PiS), recapitulando la consigna principal del bloque gobernante ante las próximas elecciones europeas. En el sexto país más grande de la Unión Europea, la orientación sexual dominaba la política.

Y bajo ningún concepto se trata de tolerar o incluir, sino de la estigmatización de la diferencia, algo que para los habitantes de Europa Occidental seguro que es difícil de entender. Ley y Justicia, contando con que conseguirán revertir la tendencia desfavorable en los sondeos, ha iniciado una persecución sin precedentes a las personas con otra orientación sexual, asustando a los polacos con el pernicioso impacto de la “propaganda LGTB” en los jóvenes: “Quitad las manos de nuestros niños”, tronaba el líder del partido Jaroslaw Kaczynski.…  Seguir leyendo »

Poles protest in Warsaw in 2017 against Jaroslaw Kaczynski’s anti-EU stance. Photograph: Alik Kęplicz/AP

French president Emmanuel Macron’s recent call to reform the European Union is a sign of hope for the entire continent. Even if we have our differences, we are in agreement when it comes to the fundamental questions. Macron is right about what Europe must do to continue flourishing. We must revitalise the EU by making it more democratic, cohesive, and just. And we must strengthen Europe against enemies that want to weaken it – namely, internal populist forces and the foreign powers that support them.

When populists achieve power, as the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party has in Poland, they dream of sowing division among democratic opposition parties.…  Seguir leyendo »

El reciente llamado del presidente francés Emmanuel Macron a reformar la Unión Europea es una señal de esperanza para todo el continente. Aun cuando tengamos diferencias, en las cuestiones esenciales estamos de acuerdo. Macron tiene básicamente razón respecto de lo que Europa debe hacer para seguir floreciendo. Debemos revitalizar la UE, haciéndola más democrática, cohesionada y justa. Y debemos fortalecer a Europa contra enemigos que quieren debilitarla: en concreto, fuerzas populistas internas y las potencias extranjeras que les dan apoyo.

Los populistas que obtienen el poder, como el gobernante partido Ley y Justicia (PiS) en Polonia, anhelan sembrar divisiones entre los partidos opositores democráticos.…  Seguir leyendo »

Les 21 et 22 février se tenait, à l’Ecole des hautes études en sciences sociales (EHESS, Paris), un colloque international consacré à la nouvelle école polonaise d’histoire de la Shoah, accompagné d’une conférence de l’historien américain d’origine polonaise Jan Gross au Collège de France. Quel ne fut pas l’étonnement de la très nombreuse assistance de voir une trentaine d’individus se réclamant de l’Eglise polonaise («Nous sommes catholiques ! Nous sommes polonais !») perturber le colloque en voulant imposer leur vision des relations judéo-polonaises pendant la Seconde Guerre mondiale. Ils n’ont eu de cesse – certains étaient venus exprès de Pologne – de crier et d’interrompre les participants par des quolibets et insultes, les traitant de menteurs, tapant des mains de façon intempestive, exigeant de filmer les débats, y réussissant partiellement : des extraits du colloque ont été immédiatement mis en ligne avec des commentaires haineux.…  Seguir leyendo »

Los periodistas de Gazeta Wyborcza hemos logrado registrar una fase interesante de una democracia enferma, mostrando lo que sucede cuando el poder se escapa del control democrático. A medida que desaparecen las fronteras entre los negocios y la política, el tumor de la oligarquía comienza a crecer en el corazón del Estado.

Conseguimos las grabaciones de unas negociaciones del pasado año en las que participó Jaroslaw Kaczynski, presidente de Ley y Justicia (PiS), el partido nacional-conservador que lleva tres años gobernando Polonia en solitario. En ellas, Kaczynski actúa no solo como político, sino también como empresario que decide sobre inversiones gigantescas.…  Seguir leyendo »

Bougies déposées à la mémoire du maire de Gdansk assassiné, Pawel Adamowicz. Cracovie, 19 janvier 2019.© REUTERS

A Gdansk, on a fait appel à des psychologues pour aider la population, profondément choquée par l’assassinat le 13 janvier du maire de la ville, Pawel Adamowicz – un meurtre retransmis en direct à la télévision, en prime time, devant des millions de téléspectateurs. L’homme de 27 ans accusé de ce crime était sorti de prison quelques mois plus tôt. Il avait préparé son attentat médiatique jusque dans le moindre détail: après avoir enfoncé un couteau dans le cœur du maire, il a crié dans un micro qu’il avait tué M. Adamowicz pour se venger de Plateforme civique, le parti centriste d’opposition qui l’avait, prétendait-il, injustement envoyé en prison.…  Seguir leyendo »

A memorial to Pawel Adamowicz, the mayor of Gdansk, Poland, who was stabbed to death at a charity event earlier this month.CreditCreditAgencja Gazeta/Reuters

In Gdansk, psychologists have been called in to help the public. Such is the great shock following the murder on Jan. 13 — on live prime-time television with millions watching — of the city’s mayor, Pawel Adamowicz.

The 27-year-old man accused of killing the mayor was released from prison a few months ago. He had planned every detail of the telegenic attack: After stabbing the mayor in the heart, he shouted into a microphone that he had killed Mr. Adamowicz to get revenge against Civic Platform, the centrist opposition political party that he alleged unjustly put him in jail.

On Sunday, tens of thousands of people took to the streets of Gdansk to say goodbye to their mayor; spontaneous gatherings took place in other Polish cities.…  Seguir leyendo »

Paweł Adamowicz. Photograph: Wojciech Strozyk/Reporter/Rex/Shutterstock

The death of Paweł Adamowicz, the popular liberal mayor of Gdańsk, has sent shockwaves across Poland and elsewhere in Europe.

Silent marches have been held in Warsaw, Gdańsk and other cities to pay tribute to him – and tens of thousands of Poles participated. Saturday, the day of his burial, will be a day of national mourning.

The alleged assailant, a 27-year-old man from Gdańsk, was released from prison last month, it emerged on Monday. After the stabbing, the assailant told the crowd he blamed Adamowicz’s former political party Civic Platform for his jailing in 2014 for a series of violent attacks.…  Seguir leyendo »