The 2020 might be the year of change in Poland. Not only priests are being molested now (a local priest from Warsaw demands that his neighbours change their WiFi network name from Lucifer to something acceptable for a Christian neighbourhood – apparently he never heard about Saint Lucifer of Cagliari), but, to a surprise of everyone just before Christmas a Curia in Świdnica reported to the authorities that they are investigating a case of a paedophile priest. In the country, where everyone is used to the Church sweeping such cases under the carpet, this made a big news. Some jesters say, that this is because he dared to molest one of the bishop’s kids, but I hope this is a sign of change.
Alas, the priests are not the only ones who can harm little children. After PiS took over the education, the school can also live a psychical scars to the new generation. And I am not even takin about this new trend with scaring children with staged terrorist attacks (we wrote about it already in this series). It’s the whole idea of “new patriotic education”. In the local school in Łabunie, near Lublin, after a local politician made a speech about how “leftist want to create a new, godless society”, the pupils’s school theatre presented a drama in which those older ones, dressed as Gestapo gassed younger ones, dressed as concentration camps victims. Apparently, unlike analysing Harry Potter books in class, such activities in school are not considered harmful to the young psyche.
Those who believed, that the puppet Constitutional Tribunal cannot get any worse are also up for a surprise. Newly nominated judges, Krystyna Pawłowicz and Stanisław Piotrowicz already got in trouble: she has broken an ethical code of the judge by attacking an opposition politician in social media and he just lost a case in court and now has to apologize for calling the judges “common thieves” (although he tries to appeal, arguing, that he only meant certain judges, and therefore judges who sued him have no right to feel offended). Meanwhile the judges don’t give up: the judge from Olsztyn, who won his appeal against being suspended by the minister Ziobro for observing the ruling of the European tribunal and demanding that the government will provide certain documents needed to establish legality of certain aspects of the “judiciary reforms”, came back to work and instantly summoned one of the ministry employees to come and explain why she refused to provide those documents despite the ruling of the highest administrative court ordering her to do so. But while he won a battle, he is still far from winning the war – the new reforms are so messed up that it is now uncertain even if he is allowed to be a judge or not…
And no wonder, as the new law is really badly written. The method of parliamentary work introduced by PiS in the parliament make it nearly impossible to provide decent legislation . The proposals of the new bill skip the phase of the public consultation and are placed in front of parliamentary commissions, which are now simply a façade. As long, as PiS have majority, they can push everything through, and even if not, they simply order repeated vote until the bill passes. There is no time for the lawmakers to look into the proposed legislation, as the pace is so swift, that nobody has time to read the documents, not to mention to analyse them. And sometimes even being given a copy is a luxury – recently one of the opposition MP’s managed to record a conversation in which the PiS politicians demand some copies of the documents but ask for them to be not “given to those other people, other MP’s”:
“Nie dawaj tamtym posłom” – czyli kolejna odsłona demokracji a la PiS.
Oraz: ustawa sądowa to taki “projekt poselski”, że do zgłaszanych doń poprawek posłowie PiS potrzebują zgody ministra Kalety…
Oraz: PiS ma ewidentnie problem z wyłączaniem mikrofonów pic.twitter.com/xp9o94Luot
— A. Dziemianowicz-Bąk (@AgaBak) December 19, 2019
The corrections are often voted in bundles – there is one vote for all corrections proposed by PiS, and one vote for all corrections proposed by the opposition – and as you probably gussed, the first bloc usually gets through, and the second is lost. And all this happens at night. PiS loves to work late, thus making it even more impossible for the opposition MP’s to work effectively – as who has energy to look through yet another document at 4am in the morning? This is not a problem for the PiS MP’s, they don’t care, they just come to the room when the vote is about to start and vote in line with the party directives.
The opposition MP’s have no such luxury – no matter if it’s in the commission, or during the plenary session, they always have to be ready for an unexpected vote. PiS uses it as a tactics – their speakers unexpectedly announce votes for changing the order of the proceedings to ensure that the rate of MP’s present is in favour of PiS. Sometimes they even run vote so quickly, that opposition MP’s, who are queuing for their speeches have no time to reach their seat and log in into the vote casting device.
And so in today’s Sejm, most of the things are running lazily and slowly, but those that PiS considers crucial are pushed by brute force with disregard to the rights of the opposition MP (and the Sejm employees, as those are also forced to work late at night, which raises concern about if their worker’s right are properly observed). Like the new law on judges, which was proceeded in record pace with virtually no discussion allowed (the commission chairman – of course from PiS – decided, that every party will have to designate one MP to speak for them, and they will only be allowed to speak for 60 seconds each). Finally after lot of argument at about 3.30 the chairman announced 45 minutes break, after which the 105 proposed corrections were put under vote – in the record pace of nearly two votes per minutes. As usual all corrections from PiS were approved, and every single one that came from the opposition was revoked.
The bill will now be proceeded during plenary session. Just as the new hunting law was just pushed trough. After keeping it low profile during election campaign, PiS went to please hunters even more, practically taking them from any form of control (under new law, only the state institutions will be able to monitor the hunters, but only if the hunters themselves ask for it). The law is clearly aimed at anti-hunting activists, who do a great job documenting all irregularities (they also proved, that despite government’s propaganda, the African Swine Fever virus is spread mostly by hunters themselves, as they rarely observe a contamination regime when dealing with the animals they shot – see more here), but it can also harm ordinary citizens who just go walking or mushroom picking in the forest and can, unbeknownst to them, find themselves “obstructing the hunt” which can be punishable even by prison. In other words, the public forests in Poland are to become a private playpark for the members of the hunting lobby.
The biggest problem with the PiS rule is that things that until recently were unacceptable, now seems to become “normal”. Which is easy to do, but it will be much harder to improve standards again. After all, many Poles oppose changes to things they consider “normal”, and those can even be MP’s. Recently a right wing MPs protested against government’s new plans to tackle road deaths by improving pedestrian’s safety and reducing speed limits arguing that “they don’t understand why people need to drive 50km/h in build-up areas, if everyone drives 70 today, and one should not be punished for doing something, that is completely normal”.
Nobody also seems to be surprised, when the government refuses to observe court verdicts that came out not as they wish: people, who won their appeals from the unfair reduction of their pensions (PiS introduced it in 2016 in order to punish “former functionaries of the communist regime”, but swept everyone with the same brush and many innocent people were caught) are still waiting for their payments to come: the government claims, that this needs to be revisited by the Constitutional Tribunal, who deliberately delays the proceedings.
There was hope in the newly elected Senate, in which the opposition has slight majority, but the PiS has already unleashed their propaganda machine to attack the newly elected speaker, accusing him of corruption when he was a doctor. It seems that the opposition in Senate is also going to be pretty busy fighting PiS dirty moves.
The “new normal” spreads also in culture. In the drive to rescue dramatically falling numbers of viewers, government controlled TVP decided to please the lower tastes. Their promotion of the music genre called “Disco Polo” – a retarded derivative of the Italo Disco from 70’s and 80’s – reaches the highest levels of absurdity. Zenek Martyniuk, favourite Disco Polo singer of Jacek Kurski, the head of TVP, recently celebrated his 30 years of artistic work with a benefis in Białystok’s Opera House. The “gala” was sponsored by TVP and local government and was transmitted live on national TV, and in the first rows a range of local PiS VIP’s could be observed (Jacek Kurski even helped with vocals). The government TV treated it as if it was an event by several magnitudes more important that Nobel prize for Olga Tokarczuk (not to mention the 65th anniversary of the Białystok Opera itself, that was celebrated with a concert of Stanisław Moniuszko’s music, but it never got anny attention of the public media).
So if you want to see this greatest artist of our times, his gala can be found here (part 1, part 2). If you still don’t have enough, Zenek Martyniuk was also one of the stars of the TVP new year’s concert in Zakopane (here). And if that’s not enough yet, wait until the Valentine’s Day, where a biographic movie about Martyniuk produced by TVP is to be released to the cinemas. Judging from the poster, it is to be an epic story equal only to Bohemian Rhapsody.
This newly promoted cult of Martyniuk is criticized even by some PiS politicians, but somehow nobody talks about the elephant in the room: Zenek Martyniuk is hardly a songwriter. At best he can be called “a king of covers”, as over the years many people pointed out striking similarities between his greatest hits and earlier songs by the obscure (at least in Poland) artists from other Eastern European countries… I failed to establish if he pays them royalties, or if he simply plagiarized their work.
So: is that the art worthy of promotion as a part of a mission of the public TV in Poland? Or it’s just the part of the bigger picture, that under the rule of PiS everything in Poland is to become a phony version of what it used to be before?
This piece was written for Britské Listy
Collage created with Public Domain pictures