Election Campaign in Poland: Tailwind for Tusk

Polen is in a good economic position compared to other EU countries. It is all the more significant that the opposition around its de facto main candidate, Donald Tusk, has now been able to impressively show its strength. People who arrived in Warsaw on Sunday organized the largest demonstration against the national conservative PiS party, which has been in power since 2015. Also marching was Nobel Peace Prize winner Lech Walesa.

The union leader of the 1980s and Poland’s first post-reunification president now reflects on successes and failures. On June 4, 1989, when Poland became the first Eastern Bloc country to fight for semi-free elections (albeit with one-off seats reserved for old bloc parties), he denounced it bitterly. The interim solution was a “caricature of democracy”. “If we made some kind of revolution…. .”, he added. However, what was ultimately needed was a “lazy compromise” reached at the round table. Such a radical approach, as later in Romania, could fail. Soviet troops were still in the country; in the GDR, Erich Honecker saber-rattled in side of Poland.

There was always a lot of blood

“Some kind of revolution” would be quite consistent with the political culture of the country. “Poland is a revolutionary nation,” wrote Warsaw political scientist Piotr Buras shortly after joining the EU in 2004. The fight against the division of the country in the 18th century, the uprisings against the occupiers, then the Warsaw Uprising in the 20th century and after 1945 the partisan struggle against the Soviet and Polish-Communist troops: there was something revolutionary in all this, and there was always a lot of blood.

On the other hand, Walesa’s Solidarity movement, founded in 1980, has broken with this tradition, even if today’s Walesa struggles with his then role. At that time, after millions of Polish deaths in the World War and the Holocaust, and in view of the tight grip of well-armed neighbors in the Eastern Bloc, no further bloodshed was wanted. For this reason, and also for ethical reasons, the motto of the civil rights activists was: “Do not set fire to the party headquarters, but adjust them yourself.”

However, the fact that the turn of 1989 made many people losers, especially in the short term, rekindled revolutionary aspirations. Shouldn’t the henchmen of the dictatorship be court-martialed, expropriated or banned from their (successor) parties? Couldn’t this cut the old cloth, prevent the enrichment of the old networks, and fundamentally end the interdependence with the old-new governments in Russia, the former colonial power? This was demanded by parties that defined themselves as centre-right. Yaroslav Kachinsky ended up in this camp early.

Brand or disable altogether

In late May, the Biblically named Law and Justice (PiS) party he leads enacted a requirement to retrospectively examine ties to Moscow since 2007 in law. The new commission is due to begin work with revolutionary speed in a few weeks, primarily to test political opponents for “Russian influence.” The first results are planned to be presented in September.

It can then – like today’s legal situation – block people from holding important positions. In this way, as on several occasions since 2015, PiS has demonstrated its contempt for the constitution, democratic rules and institutions. Four months before the fall parliamentary elections, many critics agree: this is Lex Tusk, designed to stigmatize or eliminate leading opposition politicians, including former Prime Minister Tusk.

President Andrzej Duda, who has a doctorate in law and could have vetoed it, agreed with him and signed the potentially repressive law last week. However, a few days later, Duda pushed through an amendment to pull the sharpest teeth out of the law. He made another announcement on Tuesday evening.

Why first hyu and then hot? For the first step, Newsweek Polska provides an explanation that seems plausible: the adviser pushed Duda into it because otherwise the entire right-wing Twitter community in Poland would have jumped on him. In the second phase, many observers suspect that massive criticism, especially from Washington, prompted Duda to make a half turn. Of course, the amendment still has to pass through Parliament. One thing is certain: the PiS camp made a fool of itself, mobilized the opposition, and provided a strong tailwind to Donald Tusk, whose successful return many did not want to believe.

Source: Frantfurter Allgemeine

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