Political Reactions In Poland

By Naveed Qazi | Globe Upfront

Poland has been volatile because its citizens believe that their freedoms are at risk. 

In December 2016, thousands of Poles had marched the streets of Warsaw to register their protests against constitutional amendments. People have chanted slogans like “Free European Poland!” and “Poland is here!” Some had sealed their lips with tape, suggesting that freedom of speech was threatened. 

Supporters of Civic Platform Party (PO) and Committee for the Defense of Democracy, a social organisation, had called for a ‘Freedom March’ in which protestors carried Polish and EU flags, aiming to show the resentment that Poles in general have developed against the ruling Law and Justice Party (PiS) and their authoritarian leaders. They fear that the attitude of current government would oust them out of the European Union and NATO membership for their lack of respect for political rights and democracy.

The estimate of attendance had been about 90,000. Infact, in May 2016, the protests against the government had reached a figure of 2,40,000. A pro-Euro parade called ‘Schumann Parade’ also took place in Warsaw lately.

The major cause of unrest has been changes made to the Constitutional Tribunal, Poland’s highest court, where two-thirds majority out of 15 judges could make it difficult for laws to get invalidated.

However, the government officials have regarded these events as a propagandist evasion and insist that the rights of people are ought to be respected. On the contrary, the European Commission has announced an investigation on this enactment and has said that these changes threaten the rule of law.

The ruling government was also unhappy over European Commission’s decision of appointing former prime minister and Civic Platform leader Donald Tusk as its President because they believe members of political groups should not be made leaders of the European Commission. Therefore, the protests in Poland have resulted in international political implications.

PiS leader, Jaroslaw Kaczynski holds a considerable say in the party matters. He calls for European Commission powers to be reduced, including regulation of state aid of industry to national control. KaczyƄski also has had some success in reviving the Visegrad Four Group of central European countries (V4)— Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia as a vehicle to currently rebuff Belgium and Germany in some policy matters.

His main reason for opposing Donald Tusk’s reappointment in European Council as President is that they view him as a foreign pawn and the other reason being the mysterious plane crash tragedy in Western Russia that killed Polish President, Lech Kaczynski in 2010.

Jaroslaw has accused Russian President Vladimir Putin and Donald Tusk, serving prime ministerial office at that time, for the tragedy and not the bad flying conditions that resulted in crash. He still vows to bring justice for the mysterious death of his twin brother.

The ruling party, PiS, played the wild card of immigration influx during the campaigns and swept the election after a decade. Now as they rule, its leaders have come under fire for controlling state run enterprises and in curbing media freedoms of Polish TV by sacking the directors and installing government loyalists. Most of the programmes functioning now are government propaganda programmes that safeguard party interests.

These developments are indicating the political rhetoric on which the current government is functioning and defending its stances. Infact, the opposition party, PO Liberals, seem ahead in the opinion polls right now.

After the fall of Communism, Poland had been regarded as a vibrant Eastern European country. It’s history was filled with multiculturalism. But since the advent of organised Jewish holocaust by Nazis, in places like Auschwitz, Treblinka, Sobibor, Belzec and other places, monoculturalism or ethnic homogeneity is a belief shared by many far right Poles in the country today.

Many still share the historic cultural belief about Jewish immigrants being foreign or hostile. Even now, many far right wing Poles root for a united Christian democratic Poland and symbolise all types of immigrants with contempt. They believe immigrants try to impose foreign values and bring certain infectious diseases into the country.

In November last year, when PiS party won election, dozens of people had gathered near the city hall in Wroclaw, burning an effigy of a Hasidic Jew to protest against the adoption of refugees in Poland. They had also been of an opinion that Islamic refugees are not war refugees but rather economic refugees and terrorists. 

Hate crime is also on a rise in Poland where once its culture was regarded as its splendor. One can witness graffitis of blue swastika emblems glorifying Nazism on the streets of Poland.

In Gdansk, a Jewish cemetery was desecrated last year and its streets are filled with racist banners carried by the youth featuring Klu Klux Klan and Nazi General characters. These occurrences highly indicate the growing tension and lack of tolerance in the country. Poland still remains divided and it’s a cause of concern for the region.


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