Apparently, the election campaign in Poland is at full spin already. The opposition march in Warsaw on 4th of September turned out well. The number of participants had been estimated as high as half a million (a friend of mine passed at the end of the march, several kilometers from the finishing line, and while the politicians were already making speeches to the crowds over there, in the back people were still getting ready to start marching). So it turned to be an enormous success (unless you believe government media, then it was a complete flop, but I don’t know how they would not have if instead of this biggest protest since 1989 they had chosen to transmit a “Parade of the Village Houseviwes Clubs” instead).
PiS of course makes their own rallies. In Bogatynia the rally in defense of the coal mine in Turów that is to be closed on a decision of the international tribunal after that dispute with the Czech Republic was an enormous success according to government media, but was just a bunch of pensioners coached there in a couple of buses according to impartial observers. Every single meeting with Donald Tusk, who, after his success in Warsaw tours Poland to meet voters in smaller towns and cities seems to have bigger attendance. However, what is worrisome is that all of those meetings draw mostly older generations.
What is even more worrisome is that there is no problem with youth attendance at the series of meetings “Piwo z Mentzenem” where Sławomir Mentzen, a leader of the far-right populist movement Konfederacja, gathers crowds of, mostly late teenage and early 20’s men, to promote his political slogans and beer from his own brewery at the same time. This successor of infamous Janusz Korwin-Mikke pretends to be a “specialist in the economy” and desperately tries to swipe under the carpet his earlier views, like when he claims that his 5 bullet points (“we don’t want Jews, homosexuals, abortion, taxes, and European Union”) which he promoted just a few years ago were just a joke that is being taken out of context by stupid people who didn’t understand it. As for me, what I can’t understand is how Mentzen imagines turning Poland into a country where nobody pays any taxes, and yet everyone lives in comfort and owns a house, two cars, and a BBQ.
The left is a bit late to the game, but they also have announced they will tour Poland with their Holiday tour during which they will promote their vision of a welfare state. The remaining parties – the peasant party PSL teamed up with Szymon Hołownia movement and the few MPs still remaining at the side of the completely disgraced Paweł Kukiz, who went to politics with the promises of “anti-systemic revolution” and is famous for his words “if I turn into a politician, spit in my face and call me a bitch” had completely lost himself and after losing almost every single of his MP to other parties started to brown-nose Kaczyński, for which his foundation received 4 000 000 zł grant, so pretty much everyone in Poland now hopes to meet him in person so they can spit in his face as requested.
But of course that would suggest that the campaign is going on like in a civilized country, and it’s Poland we are talking about. So now let’s get to some Absurdistan-style meat.
For example in the build-up to the march Tomasz Lis, formerly chief of Newsweek and prominent journalist and today more like a disgraced die-hard fanboy of Platforma Obywatelska, who still enjoys a huge following on social media, tweeted “Znajdzie się komora dla Dudy I Kaczora” – “There will be the chamber for Duda and Kaczyński”. Of course, he meant a prison cell, but this word can also be used in the context of a gas chamber, and PiS decided to go with that. They created an outrageous clip basically telling you if you are going to march with Tusk on 4th June, you are a murderous Nazi. Being PiS, they of course stole someone’s footage and music to create this clip:
Dowód na to, że PiS wziął sobie bez pytania ujęcia do klipu: pic.twitter.com/8bLxiC9I9p
— Tygodnik NIE (@TygodnikNIE) May 31, 2023
That hugely backfired on them as this sparked outrage not only from the Auschwitz muzeum but also from President Andrzej Duda himself. So as usual where they have no argument, they reverted to scaremongering about the refugees. As the European Union against start talks about relocating refugees across the member states, they wanted to make it a pinnacle of their campaign, but this turned out to be a blank cartridge, as the EU made it clear that as Poland took well over a million of refugees from Ukraine, it will be exempt from any relocation program. Regardless, they keep going on about it, some even went as far as to point out the recent riots and France and say that those are the very people the EU tries to forcibly relocate to Poland, and the right-wing Konfederacja also goes about this topic.
Donald Tusk decided to play that game as well and recorded a clip in which he (rightly) points out, that it’s actually PiS that brings record numbers of migrants from Muslim countries to Poland (as Poland is desperate for workers) without having any integration policy in place. But the way he did is is disgraceful, as he begins by mentioning riots in France as well and then smoothly moves to scaremongers about people from Islamic countries. While this might be an attempt to show PIS hypocrisy to people considering voting for this party, it will surely not make him any new fans on the more left-wing voting base.
So when it comes to the elections, we already have scaremongering about refugees, then there will be LGBT people and “gender ideology” and then we’ll get back to abortion, I guess.
Meanwhile, what’s important, it had emerged that a piece of crucial safety information from Nitro-Chem the biggest manufacturer of TNT in NATO had been probably leaked. A spying software had been found in the crucial computers in the company. In a very detailed reportage journalist of the internet portal Orlen describe the political background to it as well. It turns out that, as PiS does, a friend of one of the ministers with no relevant experience (he run a company trading in exotic fish before) had been placed as a company chairman back in 2017. It took years to get rid of them and the new manager discovered the security breach… and then lost his job. Yet another argument for those, who believe PiS is ridden with Russian agents?
But of course, it’s not that PiS is not interested in bringing the guilty parties to justice. Several academics from Jagiellonian University, one of the leading Polish academic centres, have been sued by the Ministry of Justice for their paper in which they strongly criticize one of the PiS’ reforms of the law, pointing to numerous errors and loopholes, one of which could lead to immunity for the corrupt managers of state owners companies. The Minister of Justice calls them liars and sues them for slander. It’s worth mentioning that, as some regular readers might remember, he tried to do it once about 4 years ago, but backed down after being ridiculed for even coming up with such ideas. Apparently, we are past that point now.
Poland is very good at tracking corruption and illegal activities of the members of local governments, but only as long as it happens outside Polish borders. Starosta Tomas Prouza placed a barrier at the border crossing with Poland between Okrzeszyn and Petrikovice and started to issue keys to it and passes to Polish drivers who used that road as a shortcut on their way to work in the Czech Republic. After the price had risen tenfold, one of those drivers intervened in the Polish embassy in the Czech Republic and it had emerged that the starosta had no right to allow traffic through this road and he just did it as a side hustle – all the money collected from the drivers were going to his own pocket. The Czech authorities are now investigating the matter.
Meanwhile, back in Poland, there was also an interesting court case, in which Bartosz Kramek and Lyudmila Kozlovka, a couple behind Open Dialogue Foundation harassed regularly by PiS for their anti-government stance (see the previous chapter of the series) won a landmark case for slander against TVP – a public broadcaster turned PiS propaganda TV. TVP is forced to publish apologies at an unprecedented scale and pay them over a quarter of a million złoty. The court had to describe in large detail how the apologies are to be published exactly, as TVP is known for trying to circumvent the court ruling: for example, when they were ordered to publish apologies as the first item on the main “news” program that starts at 19:30, they started it earlier so the viewers who tune in at 19:30 exactly missed it, and when they were ordered to publish the correction on the top of their website, they did it, but also added a line in the code that made the browsers automatically scrolling down, so the information was hidden above the top of the screen…
In another important case, the court decided that the proceedings against Maciej Wąsik and Mariusz Kamiński, men who were sentenced to jail time by the court of first instance for overstepping their prerogatives during the previous government of PiS and then illegally pardoned by president Duda so they can continue to supervise Polish secret services have to continue: the court agreed with a prevailing legal opinion that president can only pardon people who were sentenced by the final verdict, and they were pardoned before the whole justice process was completed.
And now: sports. If we believe PiS, every one of you was glued to your TV screen, observing the sporting struggles of Europe’s leading athletes during the recent European Olympics. You haven’t? Have you never even heard about such an event? I don’t blame you.
This event happened only for the third time – previously it took place in Belarus and Azerbaijan. PiS took the organization of it’s third edition as there were no takers, but it has hardly been a success. I personally saw only three news items related to it:
– that element of the roof from a hastily constructed stadium fell onto the viewer’s seats, but nobody was harmed, as, since nobody cared about this sporting event, the stands were virtually empty.
Still, PiS pronounced the Olympics to be an enormous success and already talk about organizing the real Olympic games in Poland.
And how is regular life going on in Poland? Nothing new here. We even had yet another accident involving the prime minister’s motorcade, in which four people were injured, including a mother and a child from a private vehicle and two cops who crashed into it. Because, you know, driving on one side of the road only is for peasants, Morawiecki needs a motorcade of a dozen cars spread across both lanes and hard shoulders. An opposition female MP tweeted footage of one of those columns and was quickly accused of spreading the fake news, as this particular footage is from two years ago, but this is not really relevant, as there are countless dashcam videos online showing that this is a typical mode of travel for PiS.
‼️Tak się wozi Premier Morawiecki. Gdy wychodzi na jaw, że doszło później do wypadku, policja wydaje oświadczenie, że winny jest kierowca prywatnego auta, wiozący dwójkę dzieci. Sami oceńcie czy mielibyście szansę z kolumną pisowskiego premiera. pic.twitter.com/NeqU3ysLrh
— Agnieszka Pomaska (@pomaska) June 25, 2023
Morawiecki was very concerned and visited the injured in the hospital. Injured policemen, that is. I guess he was too afraid of what he could hear if he visited the other victims of the accident.
But while government vehicles might keep crashing all the time, at least they won’t be paying for speeding tickets. The minister of infrastructure, responsible – amongst others – for speed cameras, bought himself a speed camera warning device. How do we know that? He claimed it on his expenses. But at least we can be happy that the police are effective because they partner up with the manufacturer of this device in their promotional campaigns. Good to see that the minister – who is also a chairman of the National Road Safety Council – has safety on his mind. Safety of his wallet, that is.