Thursday, April 14, 2016

Quo Vadis, Poland?

Source: Wikipedia
The Polish Parliament
Poland, the biggest EU state in Central and Eastern Europe, is going through a strong nationalist revival in the last two years, rising many questions and worries about the future of the country within the Union. Poland is the second, after Hungary, to join the new wave of nation-centered politics from the former communist block, but by far the most important from the point of view of the decision making processes within the Union. 
The dramatic changes took place after May 2015 presidential elections, when  Lech Kaczynski won the elections and the Party for Right and Justice (PiS) gained control over the both chambers of the Parliament. Lech's twin brother, Jaroslaw, former prime minister, died in a controversial airplane accident in 2010, together with more than half of the Polish politicaleadership at the time. 
PiS is the first party to govern the country alone since the end of communism, a situation which gives considerable leverage in the internadecision making process. This rule of the unique party comes after the disappointment brought by many of the post-communist coalitions. 

Policy of thought

With 4 out of 10 people living in the countryside and over 90% of the population of Catholic faith, Polish politicians started an aggressive campaign, both on the home and foreign front aimed to reinstate a different leadership. Many observers assume that such a return to identity politics is the consequence of a total and non-critical adhesion to the Western values after the fall of communism.
Kaczynski - and not only - are often building their discourses by blaming the German influence into their media and politics. Cultural happenings that do not comply with the overall directions confirmed through the religious channels are welcomed with protests and threats of outlaw. The public TV and broadcast were purged by bringing people close to the establishment. The Polish leaders categorically refused to accept any refugees. This February, Patrik Jaki, deputy minister for Justice proposed baning the sentence 'Polish death camps' under the threat of a 3-year sentence. And the examples can continue...

Where to?

Poland joined the EU in 2004, and since then the country's economic situation improved permanently. The unemployment was reduced, the highway network extended from 76.5 to 3000 km. The current government made more economic promises too, one of them being to increase the child subsidy to around 129$, an encouragement for extended families too. From the same family register, the authorities seek to completely outlaw abortions and birth control, a decision that rose protests in the country.
The Venice Commission, a legal body in charge with overviewing the constitutional changes within the EU, warned the country that many of the previsioned constitutional changes are contrary to human rights.
As the EU's sixth largest country, Poland is important from a strategical point of view too, for its border with Russia and for its voted and influence on the climate change policy of the Union, as the biggest coal producer in the EU.  
This July, NATO is supposed to have its regular summit in Poland and the current situation worries both sides of the Atlantic.
Within the EU, Poland can be subject to the rule of law mechanism adopted in 2014, leading to the suspension of the voting rights, following successive breaches of the EU Treaty. Kaczynski is trying to play hard the Hungarian card, whose far-right leader Orban he met recently. 
He wants to keep Poland in the EU, but without the euro, dreaming to be, maybe, the UK of the East. Meanwhile, it risks to be more isolated within the democratic partners. On the other side of the border, the man from Kremlin may be just a little bit happier.  

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