Nearly 500,000 protestors have gathered in Warsaw in opposition to a new law implemented by the ruling Law and Justice party (PiS).
Many media outlets have touted the protests as displays in support of change regarding myriad issues from inflation to trendy social political issues, but the real reason so many have taken to the streets across Poland is because of a new law that allows the Polish government to probe into the effects of Russian influence.
Investigations into Russian influence would focus on political deals, particularly around Russian gas, that purportedly made Poland overly reliant on Moscow. The investigations would cover a period from 2007 to 2022.
Normally, this would seem like a law and commission that would garner substantial support, but the ruling PiS party are suspected of planning to use the commission to discredit opposition and ultimately bar them from holding public office.
The law allegedly allows for the commission — which is expected to be made mostly of PiS members — to emplace 10-year bans on officials from managing public funds; an effect that would essentially bar them from holding office effectively.
The current Polish Prime Minister Morawiecki vocalized his support for the investigative commission. The opposition, led by former PM Tusk (who is expected to challenge Morawiecki in the next elections), thinks the commission is being used as a tool to target opposition and discredit them.
Opposition Poles have called it a “witch hunt” and the US Ambassador raised concerns that such a law would hinder the Polish people’s ability to have their voices represented come voting time. The Atlantic touted the commission as a type of Polish McCarthyism.
Since the protests, President Duda has proposed an amendment to the law that would remove the commissions ability to impose penalties on personnel and instead issue an assessment on whether or not that person is fit for public service. Additionally, Duda proposed that the personnel sitting on the commission be diversified as non-partisan political experts and not members of parliament.
Those proposals by President Duda need to be reviewed and adopted by the Polish parliament for them to go into effect.
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What do you think? Is Poland making an backward step towards autocracy? Are the outbursts and protests from the opposition hypocritical? Are the populist claims that the opposition should ‘have nothing to fear if they have nothing to hide’ warranted?
Let me know in the comments.