Polonia

People walk their dogs as they pass campaign posters for Andrzej Duda, right, Poland’s incumbent president and leader of the Law and Justice party; and opposition candidate Rafal Trzaskowski in a suburb of Warsaw on June 25. (Wojtek Radwanski/AFP/Getty Images)

Poland’s most unusual presidential campaign is finally nearing its end. The election, originally scheduled for May 10, was postponed at the last minute because of the pandemic. The first round will now take place on Sunday.

The election takes place after five years of democratic backsliding under President Andrzej Duda and his nationalistic Law and Justice (PiS) party. Among a range of illiberal policies, the party has restricted judicial independence and exerted control over public media.

But the biggest surprise in this election year was the late entry of opposition candidate Rafal Trzaskowski into the race, which has brought LGBT rights to the fore in this predominantly Catholic country.…  Seguir leyendo »

Andrzej Duda during a debate on Polish state television, TVP, 17 June 2020: ‘Polish state television makes Fox News look like the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.’ Photograph: Paweł Supernak/EPA

As Poland approaches the climax of a presidential election campaign on which the future of its democracy depends, and Donald Trump gives his fellow populist Andrzej Duda electoral help by receiving him in the White House, come with me on a tour through the magical world of the evening News programme on Polish state television (TVP).

We start on Sunday 14 June. The first item marks the 80th anniversary of the first deportation of Poles to Auschwitz in 1940. This is indeed a moment worthy of the most solemn remembrance. Too many people around the world forget that innocent and sometimes heroic Poles were the first prisoners in Auschwitz.…  Seguir leyendo »

Si en los últimos años la polarización política ya había tensado las costuras de un buen número de democracias en todo el mundo, la pandemia, con su exigencia de una respuesta solidaria y cohesionada, ha añadido una prueba más de resistencia a los maltrechos trajes de algunos Gobiernos. Esto se hace especialmente evidente en el país donde me encuentro, Polonia, inmersa en la campaña electoral para las presidenciales del 28 de junio. Debido a las presiones, el partido gobernante se vio forzado a retrasar los comicios previstos para mayo, pero este aplazamiento fue acogido por la oposición confinada como una medida más bien favorable al Gobierno, con libertad de movimiento y una amplia cobertura mediática.…  Seguir leyendo »

Ahora mismo, en Polonia no solo hay que proteger a los ancianos de la infección por coronavirus; también hay que defender la democracia. Quizás esta no sobreviva a la epidemia.

Por fortuna, los médicos polacos aún no han tenido que tomar decisiones tan dramáticas como sus colegas del sur de Europa: a qué paciente infectado por la covid-19 conectar a un respirador y a quién dejar morir. El virus está causando estragos en nuestro país; en muchas ciudades polacas han saltado las alarmas porque los médicos y las enfermeras trabajan hasta la extenuación, faltan equipos de protección y los que repartió el Gobierno no siempre tienen los certificados necesarios.…  Seguir leyendo »

Demonstrators protest Poland's upcoming presidential election in Wroclaw on Thursday. (Bartek Sadowski/Bloomberg News)

Polish voters were supposed to choose their country’s president on Sunday. But now that won’t happen.

Late on Thursday, the National Electoral Commission announced that in view of the government’s decision to strip it of the legal authority to print ballot papers, polling places will remain shut. A postal vote also won’t take place because the government’s decision to print mail-in ballots without legislative authorization led one of the small parties in the ruling coalition to balk.

How did Polish voters feel about voting in the run-up to last week’s chaotic events? The findings from our weekly surveys since early April suggest Polish voters overwhelmingly rejected the idea of an election held under pandemic conditions, under the rules proposed by the government.…  Seguir leyendo »

Protesters are watched by police in Wroclaw, Poland, on Thursday during a march against the upcoming presidential election. (Bartek Sadowski/Bloomberg News)

A political crisis is rocking Poland over the presidential elections scheduled for Sunday. Poland is under lockdown to limit infection during the coronavirus pandemic. In-person balloting would violate distancing orders. Opposition candidates for the presidency have been unable to campaign, even as incumbent President Andrzej Duda dominates media coverage. Opinion polls suggested that fewer than one-third of voters planned to vote under these conditions.

Not surprisingly, the opposition called for the elections to be delayed. The government refused.

The solution? The governing Law and Justice party (Prawo i Sprawiedliwosc, or PiS) proposed switching to mail-in postal voting. The party introduced a bill in Parliament on April 6, about a month before the election.…  Seguir leyendo »

L’Europe, berceau des droits de l’homme, de la liberté et de la démocratie, a de tout temps promu ses valeurs bien au-delà de ses frontières. Parlement européen, Conseil de l’Europe, Etats, tous défendent ces principes universels et appellent les pays du monde à les respecter. Mais aujourd’hui, notre continent inquiète.

Des leaders politiques profitent aujourd’hui d’une situation sanitaire inédite pour s’arroger des pouvoirs disproportionnés et illimités dans le temps. En Pologne, le chef de la majorité de droite ultraconservatrice PiS a réalisé un coup de force au Parlement pour maintenir l’élection présidentielle en mai, en généralisant le vote par correspondance. C’est aux services nationaux de la Poste qu’il revient d’assurer le rôle de la commission électorale.…  Seguir leyendo »

‘In Hungary Viktor Orbán has been allowed to rule by decree during this state of emergency without any clear time limit.’ Orbán addresses parliament about the coronavirus outbreak on 23 March. Photograph: Tamás Kovács/EPA

To say that Europe is united by its divisions is an exaggeration – but only a small one. Closing national borders during the pandemic may have been a rational health response, but the longer term political consequences become more troubling when we look at the order in which European governments began to reimpose frontiers.

Italy made the decision on 10 March, when the number of confirmed cases had already exceeded 10,000. Over the next five days, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Poland, and Hungary closed their borders one after the other, even though by that time in any of them the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases had not reach a hundred.…  Seguir leyendo »

Polonia está en guerra, no solo con el coronavirus. Es una guerra civil que discurre en paralelo desde hace años. Se trata de una Cold Warentre el Gobierno antidemocrático y euroescéptico del partido Ley y Justicia (PiS), y la sociedad civil, que exige el cumplimiento de la Constitución, la independencia del Poder Judicial, la libertad de prensa y el respeto para todas las minorías.

Por desgracia, la pandemia de la Covid-19 —si bien afecta a todos independientemente de su ideología— no ha sido motivo suficiente para deponer las armas. Y ello a pesar de los infaustos pronósticos de los microbiólogos.…  Seguir leyendo »

International leaders have already started marking the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp. Soviet troops captured the camp and freed its prisoners on Jan. 27, 1945. The Nazis had founded Auschwitz on the soil of occupied Poland in May 1940, not long after invading the country. It’s estimated that around 1 million Jews (many of them Polish citizens) were murdered there. Soviet prisoners of war as well as Polish priests and intellectuals died in the camp, too.

You would think that remembering the horrors of the Holocaust would offer an opportunity to bring the world together in a sense of shared mourning and hope.…  Seguir leyendo »

Puedo llegar a entender a quienes afirman que en los últimos cuatro años ya se ha escrito todo sobre la destrucción del Estado de derecho y el desmantelamiento de la democracia en Polonia. Pero es que el Gobierno populista de Ley y Justicia (PiS, en sus siglas polacas) quiere tomar el control de los tribunales para que los funcionarios del partido, como en la época del comunismo, puedan influir en las sentencias y utilizarlas para fortalecer su poder.

Gracias a los tribunales serviles es posible amordazar a los medios de comunicación insumisos, llevar a la quiebra a los empresarios que no quieren compartir sus ingresos con el partido y encerrar a los oponentes políticos en la cárcel como si fueran delincuentes comunes.…  Seguir leyendo »

«El peligro viene de Occidente», afirmó recientemente el arzobispo de Cracovia Marek Jędraszewski, un jerarca ultraconservador que apoya abiertamente a Ley y Justicia (PiS en sus siglas polacas), el partido nacional-conservador que gobierna Polonia desde otoño de 2015. Por su parte, el Occidente contra el que alertaba era la Unión Europea, la cual sufre el cáncer de la corrupción moral según el clero polaco. A raíz de las marchas del orgullo LGBT que recorren Berlín o Londres, la legalización del matrimonio homosexual más la libertad para adoptar niños, la inclusión de los estudios de género en las universidades, la fecundación in vitro… buena parte de la alta jerarquía de la Iglesia polaca considera que Occidente le ha dado la espalda a Dios y se encamina hacia su destrucción.…  Seguir leyendo »

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 »