Saturday, November 28, 2015

Other Countries Aren't Waiting For Trumpf To Start A Fascist Resurgence-- Take Poland


Some people never learn-- not a Trumpf rally though

Before 1918 Poland hadn't existed as a country since a series of partitions from 1764-1795 left it divided up between the Russian Empire, the Prussian Empire and the Austro-Hungarian Empire. After World War I, which saw the dissolution of the 3 empires, Poland emerged as a weak, chaotic democracy that lasted until warlord Józef Piłsudski seized power in 1926. Democracy never really caught on and Poland, pretty much a basket case, and it was partitioned again in 1939 by Nazi German and Soviet Russia. The Soviets eventually defeated Germany and took over all of Poland in 1945, setting up a puppet government which lasted until 1990, when Lech Wałęsa was elected president. He was defeated for reelection in 1995 and the country's politics have been chaotic ever since, with a very right-wing Law and Justice Party (PiS) in and out of power in extremely low turn-out elections. The opposition parties are primarily right-wing parties as well, just not as right-wing.

Just over a week ago, PiS, further right and more authoritarian than ever, was voted back into power over a center-right party, winning an outright majority in the lower House of Parliament. These were the results:
Law and Justice (PiS)- 5,711,687 (37.58%) 235 seats (far right)
Civic Platform (PO)- 3,661,474 (24.09%) 138 seats (center-right)
Kukiz'15- 1,339,094 (8.81%)- 42 seats (right-wing)
.Modern (.N)- 1,155,370 (7.60%)- 28 seats (centrist)
United Left (ZL)- 1,147,102 (7.55)- 0 seats (center left)
Polish People's Party (PSL)- 779,875 (5.13%) 16 seats (center-right)
And PiS has wasted no time in a virtual coup d'état against the Polish constitution. Try to follow the names; there are some especially bad characters here:
Beata Szydlo, prime minister of Poland since November 16, set the precedent for defied expectations with her choice of cabinet members.

As defense minister she appointed Antoni Macierewicz, who shares his hardline stance towards Moscow with the chief of the ruling Party for Law and Justice (PiS) Jaroslaw Kaczynski. Macierewicz eagerly spreads conspiracy theories about the plane crash in the Russian city of Smolensk five years ago that killed former President (and Jaroslaw's twin) Lech Kaczynski as well as a number of other high-ranking dignitaries. Worried he would scare away moderate conservative voters, Syzdlo promised in her campaign that Macierewicz would not take part in her government. And now he is in office.

Then there is the new secret service coordinator, Mariusz Kaminski. Former head of Poland's Central Anti-Corruption Bureau, Kaminski was convicted for abuse of office in March with a three-year prison sentence - barring him as well from public office. Kaminski has since appealed the ruling. In any case, the new prime minister was not bothered and has brought him into the government too. Immediately thereafter the president issued him a pardon.

Critics fear that the head of state's unprecedented move will prompt other officials to support the party so they too may secure legal impunity.

The move itself was illegal, believes Piotr Kladoczny of the Helsinki Foundation of Human Rights in Warsaw. "The president can pardon a conviction, but not the defendant himself," Kladoczny said.

In the meantime, judges from the court of appeals in Warsaw have spoken up. A council released a statement decrying the use of the justice system as a political instrument. Recalling the constitution's division of powers, it wrote: "The judiciary and the executive should not compete with each other and the president cannot release the courts of their constitutional duties."

But the decision of what is just and what is unjust will rest in new hands.

Only a few days after the swearing-in of the new Sejm-- the lower house of the Polish parliament-- the ruling PiS party pushed through both houses of parliament an amendment that would vindicate the president's legal maneuvering. Representatives and senators of the PiS voted in an nighttime session to appoint replacements for five recently nominated constitutional judges. With the help of the Kukiz'15 faction they gathered the necessary two-thirds majority to get their way. There was no hearing for constitutional judges. Amendment proposals were rejected. The opposition spoke of a shameful coup against the constitutional court and walked out before the vote in protest.

"It is very unnerving how the new leaders are moving forward, Kladoczny said. "It now looks like they want subordinate the constitutional court. That would be lethal," as the highest court is "the last reserve of jurisdiction."

Now the PiS has set its eyes on the media.

Shortly before a Breslau theater was set to premier its staging of Austrian playwright Elfriede Jelinek's "Der Tod und Das Mädchen," newly installed Culture Minister Piotr Glinski urged the performance to be called off amid talk that pornographic scenes would occur on stage. "Government money for culture will not be spent on pornography," he said.

When a television moderator from the channel TVP asked about the legal basis of his threat, Glinski dodged the question before offering threatening TVP in turn: "This program is propaganda, just like the propaganda and manipulation that your channel has been pushing for years," he said. "That will end soon. Public television is not allowed to function like that."

The journalist was pulled as the program's moderator and the culture minister soon announced that reform for rules governing the media were already in their "final phase." It is so far known that state television and radio channels, as well as the Polish press agency PAP, will be cast as "national cultural institutions." Their current boards will be swiftly replaced with people who in turn could be dismissed at any time.
Szydlo immediately rejected EU quotas for Syrian refugees and almost Trumpf-style (though not as drastic and extreme) is refusing the allow them into Poland. Surprise? No, of course not.



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