I was surprised to hear about Jarosław Kaczyński’s departure from the government. You could say this is a shame for someone, who writes about Polish politics. I will have to disagree with you here. See, this was something completely irrelevant. I was surprised to see him gone because I was under impression that he left a long time ago. It is not like he was doing any actual work there – actual ministerial work, that is, as we have to remember with Kaczyński in or out, this is still Jarosław Kaczyński’s government and he still pulls all the strings, no matter who his actual puppet playing prime minister is. From that point of view the question, of whether Kaczyński is officially a member of the government or not, is completely irrelevant. The only thing that changes is that he will now cease to receive a ministerial salary and will have to switch back to riding a car provided by his own party.
So what actually relevant took place in Polish politics? Basically, the election campaign has started. It did not start well for PiS, as the deputy education minister commented on the low salaries of the teachers saying that “they should see what they were getting into” (he since issued a standard non-apology saying that he’s sorry if someone felt offended). Kaczyński decided he needs to get on with it himself, but it only made things worse. Even though he is only meeting his own fans (other people are not allowed even close – more on that later), it is becoming clear to everyone that he is just a demented old guy completely disconnected from reality. During his recent meetings with party members, he mocked trans people, offended Germans by saying they continue the “democratic traditions of Adolf Hitler”, mixed cities of Włocławek and Inowrocław and his own minister with amayor of one of those towns. He was also bragging about his government building a bridge over Wisła river in Kruszwica (which is located 50 km from the banks of Wisła, so it has to be reeeeeaaaaaalllllyyyyy looooooong bridge). He also denied claims that the exchange rate of 4.7 zł to 1 euro is high, saying that in Germany one can buy Euro for 3 zł only.
Kaczyński’s rallies are well-orchestrated events. The internet had fun at the leaked recording showing how the public is encouraged to practice spontaneous chanting:
Nie wierzę, że to mój KRAJ… żenada, żenada pic.twitter.com/zpLcJKx4Dm
— P🅾lish🇵🇱🇺🇦S🅾łtys 🇺🇦🇪🇺⚡️ (@PolishSoltys30) June 8, 2022
The whole area of the city is cordoned by the police, that prevents counterprotesters to come anywhere close. One of the masked police officers (or a person dressed as one, as he failed to display his name tag as well) attacked a couple counter-protesters with pepper gas. The very same masked policeman refused to react when some other citizens reported a van parked across several parking spaces for disabled. Why? Because it was Kaczyński’s team van of course. When the van driver was approached, he first claimed his van has broken down (what a strange place to brake down, at the corner of the car park across the bays!) and then threatened to call the police when a man tried to film his number plate.
Meanwhile the city major, aforementioned Ryszard Brejza, issued a statement in which he described the whole situation in the following words:
“A group of people, some of them masked, with the signs “police” on their clothes, hijacked a car park and part of public road in Inowrocław. This place was surrounded and isolated, so the members of publics were prevented from either using the car park or even walking across there. At least one of persons was attacked with pepper gas, (…) which, provided that the masked attacker was indeed a police officer, could be considering ouverstepping his prerogatives.
I want to inform that nobody asked me, as a person in charge of this area, for permission to use this public space. Nor the owner, nor the manager of that space, weren’t informed about such plans. Inowrocław was in the past visited by presidents, prime ministers and ministers, but we never saw it before that an ordinary MP surrounded by many people, including police officers, was taking over part of the city preventing residents from accessing a public space”.
But you would not see any of that in public media. The public media that interrupted their normal program so for 70 minutes they could broadcast live a speech of just an ordinary back-bencher MP, certain Jarosław Kaczyński during his visit to Inowrocław.
Maybe this is just a dull propaganda, but the spread is wide and other media are prevented from counteracting on this. For exaple during the recent technical changes related to digitalization of the TV signal all commercial stations were forced to abandon their analogue broadcast, but TVP channels remain accessible for the people with old TV sets. The number of such viewers is still estimated at about 1.3 millions, so the commercial TV stations consider it unfair competition. Those sill using older TV sets are probably those on lower incomes, but Kaczyński says that after another two terms with PiS in power there will be no more poor people in Poland. He didn’t clarified if they will just emigrate for better life or just simply die of hunger, but the latter seems to be more and more likely. The inflation is spinning out of control and recently exceeded 15%. And forecast are not optimistic.
The public becomes concerned with the growing prices, but PiS would not be PiS if they did not tried to turn it into the win. The state controlled oil giant Orlen – that reports record profits recently – has a virtual monopoly on wholesale fuel sales in Poland, so it could easily lower prices. Instead they came up with the promotion: people have to register in a special app and then can get buy 150 litres of fuel at discounted prices at Orlen gas stations. This is obviously an attempt to bring back all those people who boycott Orlen garages because of political reasons…
If only the promised millions of electric cars were on the way to the market, but, of course, they aren’t. After the Izera – the new electric car from Poland – had been presented to the media couple of years ago,it quickly became clear that it is actually just a mock-up of the car body, and nothing is known so far about the platform those cars are supposed to be build on, as those most important bits won’t be designed or even built in Poland but will be sourced from third party.
Two years on and the project is still in shambles. The factory, that was supposed to be built by now, has not even secured a piece of land where it will be constructed. We still don’t know about the technicalities of the car. And the whole project is less likely to make any sense. As usual with PiS, the idea wasn’t that bad on its own. It was a smart move to try to break back into the automotive world taking advantage of that shift in technology, but for that to work, Izera would have to be one of the first on the market. But by now if Izera will ever become a real car, will have to compete on the already populated market with not only well established players, but also newcommers – like Polaris – or chinese manufacturers.
The most recent PiS success story, a construction of the controversial anti-regugee wall on the Belarus border also seems to not be as great success as expected. The migrants are crossing over the wall using ladders or even makeshift siege towers provided by Belarussian authorities and there are also reports showing that the wall design is flawed and it’s actually not preventing anyone from just tunnelling under it. The local activists still provide help to refugees in defiance of the government and according to them their numbers are growing again. Meanwhile some of the activists detained by the army for helping refugees are suing the government for illegal actions.
The education reforms also turned to be a disaster. This years Matura exams result came and they are not good. Funnily enough in some Catholic school not even a single student passed. The Lower Silesian district had especially poor result with 25% rate of fails, which was blamed by local education ombudsman on the fact, that this area was German before the war. This is even stupidest excuse that the Izera manufacturers claiming that they could not source platform for their new car for 6 years because of COVID.
Meanwhile the minister of education is too busy with introducing new handbook for the new class “contemporary history” which has been destroyed by experts, pointing out that it is just a heap of right wing propaganda and a tool of indoctrination. The education minister and his friends – like Kraków education ombudsman Barbara Nowak – on the other hand are outraged on something else: one of the schools introduced non-gender branded toilet that is open to everyone, which is obviously a blatant attempt to promote gender ideology and homo-propaganda. You would not believe how persistent those LGBT people are. Janusz Kowalski, a right-wing MP, pointed out that leftists ideology forces its way to schools, so kids are given crayons in all the colours of the rainbow!
…no, seriously, he really said it:
Strangely enough there was no such outrage after it has emerged that yet another orphanage run by nuns have been abusing their residents. Kids were allegedly tied to beds or placed in cages. Even despite the fact that this organization was known for abusing kids for decades – about a decade ago a popular singer Kora of the band Maanam went public about the horrors she suffered as a kid during her time in the orphanage there – but no action was taken, as by this time her accusations lapsed.
So where are those defenders of the children? Well, Barbara Nowak denies the accusations saying that “it’s well too easy nowadays to accuse”. Also Tadeusz Rydzyk came to defence of the nuns, calling the whole situation “slandering their good name” and “smearing the church”.
But the church seems to be doing alright regardless. Because if there is one thing Poland can claim to be world-leading in, it’s the discipline of sweeping paedophilia scandals under the carpet. According to independent researchers, currently the Vatican is conducting 28 investiagions against bishops covering up paedophile priests. Of those 28 cases, 16 involves hierarchs from Poland.
Somehow though this did not outraged any priests, unlike the woman, who threw eggs at the church: she had been found guilty of offending religious feeling of four of them. But a drag queen who went of stage with a sex doll that had a face of one of the archbishop Jędrzaszewski known for his aggressive anti-LGBT language, was acquited from the same charge, as well as from the charge of inciting violence. The LGBT had another victory in the courtroom recently as well, when the government propaganda station TVP had been found guilty of slander for the “documentary” called “Invasion” they broadcasted just before last parliamentary elections, in which they tried to portray LGBT activist as members of foreign sponsored conspiracy trying to undermine Polish values and legalize paedophilia.
But at least an opposition MP has been caught by the police when cycling under influence, so TVP can be busy with that. They even obtained an operational recordings from the police – illegally of course. I have to say the impact might be less effective than they hoped, as the vision of a politician, who instead of blasting through the city in police escort in a luxury limo, goes for few beers and then takes cycle home, like many ordinary people, can also induce some positive reactions from the people, as seeing politicians travelling like normal citizens is not something Poles see too often.
But what Poles see often is movies about pope John Paul II. So since this piece is already too long, I will leave you dear readers and go to watch a documentary that is being recently broadcasted over and over by several Polish channels for some reason: “John Paul II’s Moscow”. Let me bring you a synospis of the movie:
“The pope wanted to go to Russia many times, but for many reasons it never happened (…) regardless of that we can find many traces of presence and heritage of the John Paul II there”. Allegedly, the movie speaks to many experts on the topic of the Polish pope never being in Moscow.
Dear documentalists, if you will ever shoot another documentary about places the pope never been too, please consider interviewing me as an expert. I haven’t been to tens of thousands of places that the Pope also never went to, I can talk for hours! 😉
Picture of Kaczyński: Piotr Drabik, Creative Commons.
This piece was written for Britské Listy