Polish Toledo

This blog is associated with www.polishtoledo.com

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Pole-arization


Political strife and social polarization is running rampant here, there and everywhere.

As political discourse in America becomes intolerable,  so is the situation in Poland especially following PiS (Law & Justice Party) candidates winning the first clear majority (meaning they have enough seats in parliament - not needing to form a coalition) in the Sejm since the fall of communism along with winning the presidential office.

Most citizens in the north and west of Poland are liberal progressives who are organizing large protest demonstrations against a duly elected government installed under constitutional law.  Most of the citizens in the east and south favor a more traditional conservatism.


Progressive indoctrinated pseudo intellectual protestors
(Government controlled media is not "Free Media") 
The Media Problem

In Poland there still is state run media with a significant reach unlike PBS in America that garners only a small fraction of audience. Both TVP in Poland and PBS in America over time have developed biases toward the left side of the social-political spectrum. In the political scheme of things it is customary for the ruling Party to make adjustments in the management of state owned media by installing new managers aligned in political philosophy. That is probably the strongest argument against any involvement or ownership by government in any media.

Now, that PiS has replaced the heads of state operated media with like-minded individuals as is customary after winning elections, millions of Poles across the country have their panties in a bunch. If the media were strictly in the hands of private owners as it should be in a free, open, capitalistic, free-market society there would be no coercion from elected officials to set an agenda in the editorial content provided by such outlets because they would not exist, thus be under control by politicos.

I'm not saying state ownership of several very powerful media outlets is as damaging to Poland and its citizens as Librium-veto turned out to be in the late 18th century causing the 123 years of partitions. But, I am saying it is pretty damn stupid. You can't be for democracy if you don't fully embrace the free marketplace of ideas, and that means a free marketplace without having a ruling political either left, center or right Party injecting their partisan message into the stream of news, information and editorial thought.

The sign held by the lady above actually should read "Private Ownership of Media = Free People". If these protestors really believed in democracy - the first thing they would do is insure that government had no involvement in the distribution of news, information or propaganda like the communists did for more than 4 decades. 

While they cry democracy is being stamped out - The laws Poland has structured and accepted in forming their Republic have not been violated by PiS at least in the control of state run media.  No law was broken by changing top management at state run media. If the opposite was the case, I'd suggest they get off the streets and into the courtroom to sue for justice.





The Constitutional Court Problem

Now, this problem is truly a sticky wicket.

Today's Polish Constitution (Not the celebrated 3 Maja)


The constitutional crisis was triggered after PiS annulled five appointments to the country’s powerful constitutional tribunal of 15 judges made by parliament led by the previous government controlled by the Civic Platform (PO) Party and coalition partners. While I agree that something is rotten in Denmark regarding the situation, little is heard about the fact that two of the appointments were probably illegal.


The five new judges were barred from taking their posts because President Andrzej Duda also PiS did not accept their oaths of office. Widespread criticism was quick to come from the opposition and legal establishment, who accused the PiS lead government of violating judicial independence.

The constitutional court's critics, however, see the panel as a highly politicized body that struck down  previous Law and Justice-led government’s legislative program when they last held power 8 years ago. They placed the blame for the crisis squarely on the outgoing government, led by PO which, they argued, tried to appoint five judges illegally just before the October parliamentary election to pack the tribunal with opponents of Law and Justice.

Then the tribunal itself ruled the appointment of the two judges replacing those whose terms of office expired in December was unconstitutional, but the other three were appointed legally.

Andrzej Rzepliński
PiS took the position that the tribunal did not have the right to make judgments about the constitutionality of parliamentary appointments and President Duda swore in five judges nominated by the new parliament instead. Tribunal president Andrzej Rzepliński responded by declaring that the five would not participate in its work, although he subsequently allowed two of them to assume their duties.

PiS tried to break this impasse in December.  Parliament amended the constitutional tribunal law to increase the number of judges required to make rulings in the most important cases from nine to thirteen; thereby hoping to oblige Chief Justice Rzepliński to accept the five judges appointed by the new Sejm.

The so-called "repair law" increased the threshold for tribunal rulings to a two-thirds majority, making the votes of these new appointees more significant, and stipulated that cases would be considered in the order they were received rather than at the tribunal’s discretion. The new law would take effect immediately which, the government hoped, would prevent the tribunal from declaring it unconstitutional.

Opponents of PiS strongly voiced these changes would paralyze the constitutional court  making it close to impossible to challenge the PiS initiated legislation. Besides the court crisis  over the tribunal’s membership and competencies, opponents piled on with additional complaints – notably new laws which they claim politicize the civil service and public broadcasting, the expansion of state surveillance, and bringing the public prosecutor’s office back under the control of the justice ministry. The broad base of accusations amounts to an indictment stating PiS is undermining the fundamentals of Polish democracy and the rule of law. As a consequence, thousands of Poles participated in demonstrations organized by the Committee for the Defense of Democracy (KOD), a new anti-government civic movement.
 
KOD demonstrators








Poland has come under strong international criticism over changes to the Constitutional Tribunal and management changes at public broadcasting networks. Critics say both moves undermine the tenets of Western democracy.

If Poland fails to reverse these changes Brussels could move towards the maximum sanction of stripping Warsaw of its voting rights in the European Council, but this is seen as unlikely.

Some EU countries, already annoyed with Poland over its refusal to show greater solidarity in tackling Europe's migration crisis, have threatened to use a looming review of the EU's joint budget to siphon some funds away from Poland.

Others, however, say Brussels should avoid a spat with Poland at a time when the migration crisis is testing EU unity and fueling Euro-skepticism across the continent.

The Euro-skeptic government in Warsaw has so far offered few concessions to Brussels, saying it has a strong electoral mandate to carry out changes it deems necessary. It also says the top court had been too closely influenced by the former centrist, pro-EU government.



The Abortion Problem

When Civic Platform coalition was in power then PM Donald Tusk said, "doctors’ opposition to abortion does not give them the right to refuse to kill a child in the womb, even under Poland's strictest in the EU abortion rules.   ...regardless of what his conscience is telling him, [a doctor] must carry out the law".

While many Poles today are crying that PiS is infringing on democracy and citizens' rights, nobody is mentioning that the former abortion policy violated freedom of religion and conscience of doctors apposed to abortion - forcing them to be murderers.

See previous post on the subject [Click Here]







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