I wonder where Poland, the fifth largest country of the European Union, would have been today had it not been for these lousy eight years

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I have recently read numerous opinions that democracy in Poland is in a good condition after PiS lost its power in the elections. What terrible nonsense. 



I’m sorry to spoil the mood after the fantastic election victory of the Polish democrats last week. Emotions have died down, but the bitterness remains. We lost eight years because of PiS. Nobody will give that time back to us.

 

We stood bravely on the barricades. We defended the rule of law and the independent courts against PiS. We demonstrated in defence of women’s rights and minority rights. We stood firmly behind the free media and protested loudly when PiS was preparing to take Poland out of the European Union. However, PiS was like a steamroller that was accelerating all the time. And we were constantly retreating from position to position. PiS attacked us, dehumanized us and denied us the right to be Poles. It wasn’t concerned about the victims – the murdered mayor of Gdańsk, Paweł Adamowicz, the hounded Mikołaj Filiks, pregnant women who died because abortion was completely delegalized in Poland by the barbaric verdict of the PiS judges. I wondered with horror when the last boundary line separating Poland from transformation into a dictatorship would be crossed.

 

During that time, the Western world was handling major challenges, such as the climate disaster and its global consequences. New technologies and new industries were being developed, and the sights were set a long way – albeit with concern – into the future. There, journalists were travelling around the world, gaining and sharing knowledge, writing wonderful books and reports. Meanwhile, a Skansen was being built in our country under the slogan ‘getting up off your knees’. The state became the ruling party’s property, while the employees of the institutions became its servants and the police and army became its bodyguards. Journalists in our country had to defend the independence of their editorial offices, which the authorities delighted in oppressing. Increasingly fewer of them were being left.

 

I wonder where Poland, the fifth largest country of the European Union, would have been today had it not been for these lousy eight years…

 

I have recently read numerous opinions that democracy in Poland is in a good condition, after PiS lost its power in the elections. What terrible nonsense. Elections have to be fair in a functioning democracy. Poland’s last elections were not fair. There was no state institution that PiS didn’t use for campaigning, there was no programme in the state media that didn’t praise the government and threaten the viewers with Donald Tusk. Let’s add to this a rash referendum, manipulation of inflation and fuel prices, as well as changes in the electoral law. And millions, if not billions of zlotys spent officially and not on the campaign. It was such a close that today, instead of a wake, the government media would have been celebrating a historic victory, while plans to finish off what was left of Polish democracy would have been getting the final tweaks in the PiS offices at ul. Nowogrodzka.

 

We were saved by the huge public mobilization, the scale of which surprised the public opinion pollsters. Eight years of PiS rule, a period of authoritarian triumph, were also a time when Polish civil society strengthened. It was like coal which, when subjected to high pressure and a high temperature, turns into a diamond. It started a great charge and saved our country at the last moment. A strong, conscious and hardened civil society is the only good thing that will remain in Poland after the PiS rule. Let’s not waste that.

 

The article was published in Polish in Gazeta Wyborcza.



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October 24, 2023

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