Meanwhile in Cuckooland 50

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Apparently “Atlas of Cats” (see here) was not enough to cover the fact, that PiS is on the last stretch in their race to finally take over Polish courts. They feel a bit relaxed and no longer hide their true intentions. Krystyna Pawłowicz openly admits that the new law is against the constitution, Stanisław Piotrowicz, a communist prosecutor who was put in charge of that process and chairs the parliamentary commission on the subject, don’t even try to pretend that this is a democratic procedure any more. He mutes the microphone whenever the opposition MP’s want to say anything, as for him anything that is not in line with official narration of PiS is “irrelevant”. The amendments are dropped on the table and MP’s are expected to immediately vote for them, not even PiS MP have time to read what they vote for. Apparently the public needs some distraction, and so we have a new prime minister.

The reconstruction of the government was in fact promised for some time now: whenever PiS wanted to give something to chew to the media, they were leaking some new speculations on the subject. No wonder, that the opposition got fed up with that, and called the vote of no confidence. Beata Szydło defended her position fiercely, accusing the previous governments of irregularities and crime even more than usual. For me it still was not enough, as after two years of her government accusations I would like to see some matters bring to court. Unless of course, those accusations are utter bullshit, which is more likely.

Beata Szydło’s speech was welcomed by her party with demonstration of joy and support. After they heard her, they felt there is no need for any discussion, so they did not bothered to listen what opposition had to say and left the building. Right wing media were bleating: “Beata Szydło good, other prime minister BAAAHD”. Everyone in the PiS circles was climbing over other’s head to prove to their leaders, that they are those who believe the most, that Beata Szydło is the best prime minister ever. After opposition finished, PiS MP’s went back to the session chamber and, as everyone expected, the no confidence vote had lost. As it was all just a silly game. It’s not the opposition, that is to sack prime minister Szydło, only Jarosław Kaczyński can do it.

And he did, just a couple of hours later. So on that day she got from him a nice bunch of flowers and a boot in her backside. She was replaced by her deputy. Right wing media were already taught their new tune, so they did not wasted their time and instantly started to bleat “Beata Szydło good, Mateusz Morawiecki BAAAHTER”. They started to pull out the articles they had prepared for that occasion. We have learned the moving story about how he used to give a motivational speech when he was a manager of the big bank, and when asked what is his main motivation, he answered “the fate of Poland”. We learned about the dilemma he had when a hostess offered him dumplings with meat on Friday. He was very hungry and did not wanted to offend her, but as a Catholic he was supposed to observe the fast, so he just bite off the beats around the stuffing, leaving the meat on his plate. It is obvious, that someone who wrote those was a huge fan of Mikhail Zoschenko’s “Stories about Lenin”.

The other media, though, were pointing out to some other “Stories about Morawiecki” which were enough to shatter any hopes for change (not that too many people had any). In a recent interview with father Rydzyk’s TV Trwam he said: “We want to change Europe. I would like to re-Christianize it again, as in many places nobody signs Christmas carols any more, churches are empty, it’s very sad”.
(Note to myself: to find, where are those places in Europe where nobody sings Christmas Carols, I would honestly do all my December shopping, or even move there for the winter, as with the current trends in Europe, I am fed up with omnipresent Christmas carols by late November…)
And then we have to remember about that infamous interview for Deutsche Welle, where Morawiecki said that the law is not the most important thing (we wrote about that before). And if anyone still had some hopes for the change, then let’s look at the Morawiecki’s cabinet: every single minister had kept his job, even the most compromised ones like Szyszko or Waszczykowski. The only change is him becoming prime minister, and Beata Szydło becoming deputy prime minister, with no associated ministry. And, last but not least, 40 000 zł of leaving bonus for every single of them, as now they are members of the new cabinet, so they are no longer in their previous jobs. Some say, that it is physically impossible for Morawiecki to continue to head the biggest superministry designed for him, and on the top of that fulfil prime ministerial duties, but we all know, that the person who really rules the country is Jarosław Kaczyński, so it does not matter who is his current favourite puppet.

So what was the point of that change? Was it really just an attempt to divert public attention from what is really important? Or perhaps there was something else to it? For example, it could be a slap in the wrist for president Duda. His conflict with minister of defence Antoni Macierewicz was more and more apparent – Macierewicz seems to completely ignore the fact that under Polish constitution, the president is the highest chief of armed forces.He was told that president will refuse to swear him for minister of defence again, yet it seems that he swallowed it without complaining. According to Roman Giertych, a decade ago a coalition partner of Jarosław Kaczyński and today an active commenter of the political scene, it was just Kaczyński’s way to show Duda, that despite his attempts to gain some independence, he is still a nobody.

It is also possible that this change is just some internal game of power within PiS. Kaczyński is not getting any younger, and there are rumours about him having some health problems, so with the state being virtually taken over and secured, the inside circle can become their own politics without looking over the shoulder at the opposition that has been left outside. Especially that the local election are closing, and those are the traditional way to reward faithful supporters. And with the changes to the election system, people’s votes will matter less and less. They might for example get rid of the direct elections for presidents of towns and cities. The new laws will also make it much easier to rig the elections: under current law for example the only way to cast a valid voice is to place an “X” sign in one of the squares. If you made mistake, all you can do is to spoil your vote by, for example, placing “X” sign in more than one fields. Now, you will be allowed to deface one cross, and place “X” in different square, and your vote will be valid, with the voice cast to the person you’ve placed the “X” – the smear in other squares will be ignored. There is only one question: will it be possible to know, if someone did not changed your vote after you’ve put it into the ballot-box?

But perhaps there will be no need to rig the election. PiS still enjoys a significant support, and while replacing the “Polish Mother” figure with a “young bankster” might put some voters off, I am sure that PiS media will do everything they can to paint Morawiecki in the best light possible. As mentioned before, they have already started. As per other media, they are to be shown their place, and as Krystyna Pawłowicz promised, it has started. Biggest Polish news TV station TVN was just fined a hefty sum by the media ombudsman for “promoting unlawful activities and supporting actions that are a threat to national security”. That is, for reporting mass protest against PiS actions last December (I reported them for Britske Listy here). Incidentally, this fine of approx 1.5 million zł was based on the opinion written by the media expert from father Rydzyk’s university. TVN is of course going to appeal. First they will go to the regional court in Warsaw (under PiS control since September). Then they can appeal to the higher court in Warsaw (under PiS control since July) and by the time they will go through those stages, PiS will be in control of the higher court as well. Good luck, TVN.

And if one of the biggest Polish media houses, controlled by American company can do nothing about it, then what is the chance that a single citizen will be able to defend his or hers rights? For example after PiS introduced requirement to obtain doctor’s prescription for a “day after” contraception pill, and with more and more pharmacists invoking conscience clause, Polish women started to order those pills online from abroad. But apparently that rosary shield set up few weeks ago works, as while those parcels, when tracked by the third party shippers, are passed to Polish Mail, the Polish Mail never records receiving them. It seems that they are going lost into some kind of black hole. A legal association Ordo Iuris, known for it’s lobbying for tightening abortion laws claimed this as their success. Apparently thanks to their lobbying, PiS controlled special services used newly changed law, that allows them to invigilate citizens in order to “prevent crime” and this is how they find which parcels contain contraceptive pills.

As for the problem of foreigners in Poland, this can be sorted out by ordering the state to withdraw from action. According to the police, their tactics on the Independence Day was “to avoid any conflicts” – in other words, they were not allowed to intervene in order to do not annoy skinheads and fascist and they were doing everything to hide their presence. Strangely enough, their tactic is extremely different when it comes to opposition: in that case, the first stage is show of force, and then a brutal involvement. This has been summed by a picture from December’s Monthinversary of Smoleńsk crash, that circulates Polish social media with a sad commentary “Merry Christmas – Poland 2017”:

So basically the plan of action is clear: internal enemy is tackled by the police. Foreigners by nationalist youth: this week for example there was an attack on the hostel where foreign students live. Sometimes of course there is some collateral damage like in Giżycko, where an US Army Soldier was beaten so badly, that he had to be airlifted to a hospital in Germany in order to have his face reconstructed. But, as one of the leaders of Polish extreme right said, we are at war, and all wars have some casualties…

The ground is also being prepared for tackling those MEP’s who voted for the resolution criticizing rule of law in Poland (those, who’s effigy were hanged by nationalists recently). President Duda in his recent speech on the anniversary of the birth of Józef Piłsudski said that “the struggle for independence would not be needed at all if not for the disaster of partition of Poland. The direct cause of them was undignified appeals for arbitrage and intervention of foreign powers, we shall not do that mistake again”. This is in line with PiS narration referring to the opposition as Targowica – which in Polish is also a synonym for treason.

There is a sad irony in that. Because if we believe the members of Targowica themselves, they felt the need of desperate action in order to counteract a constitutional coup d’etat, an attempt to change the Polish polity by bending of existing law – that sounds like what PiS does, and if we believe prime minister Morawiecki, this could be one of those cases, when one should act for the good of his fatherland without looking at the boundaries of law. But the leading historical interpretation is that Targowica was aconspiracy of magnates, who felt left behind after Poland has designed first European constitution and was about to join the rank of most progressive countries in Europe. They considered it as a threat to Polish national and religious tradition, and therefore were supported by Catholic Church. They decided to team up with Russia, which led to Poland loosing it’s independence for 123 years. Sadly, this sounds like PiS even more…

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This is 50th chapter of this series. It is sad how from the bunch of silly articles aiming to ridicule some minor bloopers of the Polish politics it has gradually changed into a chronicle of falling democracy.

This piece was written for Britske Listy
Photo: Public Domain