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After the Polish elections: “The PiS dam is cracking and leaking.” Back

After the Polish elections: “The PiS dam is cracking and leaking.”

7 Dec 2023

What has changed in Poland after the elections on October 15, 2023, in which the democratic opposition defeated the populist-nationalist Law and Justice party (PiS)?

text: Bartosz T. Wieliński

From a technical point of view, nothing has changed. The country continues to be ruled by PiS, as if nothing had happened. Even though the party has no chance of creating a government coalition, President Andrzej Duda, known for his humble attitude towards PiS, which earned him the position of head of state, entrusted the mission of forming a government not to the leader of the opposition, Donald Tusk, but to the current Prime Minister of the PiS government, Mateusz Morawiecki. According to the Polish constitution, Morawiecki had two weeks to build a coalition in parliament. A week has already passed, there is no coalition, and Morawiecki’s government is a farce. But despite this, ministers hand out millions of zlotys in the form of subsidies and prizes.

Not much has changed in terms of propaganda either. In December 2015, within a few days, PiS subordinated Polish television and public radio to its government. Within a few weeks, after a staff purge that affected several hundred journalists, the media were turned into propaganda stations that closely resembled stations from Hungary, Russia and Turkey. For several hours a day, seven days a week, the PiS-subordinated media praised the government (as the best in Polish history) and slandered all its opponents: As traitors, dissenters, agents of Germany and Russia… Media officials have blood on their hands. In 2019, a man poisoned by this propaganda killed the mayor of Gdańsk, Paweł Adamowicz. This did not make any impression on PiS politicians. After the elections, propaganda continues to play the same melody. But surprisingly, one of the main presenters decided to leave her job. It will go off the air next week. Right after Morawiecki’s government ceases to exist.

Not much has changed in the judiciary or prosecutor’s office. PiS people continue to devastate the rule of law. Under their rule, Poland is waging a cold war with the European Union and is rooting for Donald Trump to become US president next year.

Szymon Hołownia. Photo PAP, Piotr Nowak

But it is already clear that the dam that has been built over the years is cracking and leaking. Just visit the Polish parliament. The Sejm has a new marshal (this is how we call the chairman in Poland) and completely different customs prevail there. During the PiS government, the parliament was a voting machine. During those times, laws were written in a hurry, without any care about the way in which the law was created. The debate on them was shortened to a minimum in order to pass and implement them as quickly as possible. The new Marshal of the Sejm, Szymon Hołownia, has put an end to these customs. The Sejm became a place for discussion again. Moreover, as a former television journalist, he conducts the proceedings with eloquence and humor (in this he resembles the famous Speaker of the House of Lords John Bercow). PiS politicians, including the party leader Jarosław Kaczyński, cannot cope with this situation. They constantly provoke the marshal, and he defuses their attacks with a smile, making them look like idiots.

That’s why broadcasts of the Sejm proceedings on social media have become an Internet hit, YouTube is to award the Sejm the famous silver button, because the Polish Parliament has almost 200,000 followers. Importantly, young people watch the broadcasts. And it then they say that Generation Z is bored with politics…

So the Democrats in Poland regained their parliament. In a week, when Morawiecki’s mission ends because the prime minister fails to win a vote of confidence, Donald Tusk will become prime minister. The government has already completed the program. The reconstruction of Polish democracy will start in earnest.

It will not be easy. PiS has placed its people in virtually every institution, from the Constitutional Tribunal to the supervision of banks and audit companies. They will throw obstacles at the Democrats’ feet, they will collect hooks and sabotage. The success of this government will depend on how quickly it takes control of the situation, puts things in order, and returns Poland to a pro-European course. This is important not only for us, but also for Europe. In a situation where populists are winning elections in subsequent countries, Poland has set an example that things can be different. Now Tusk can prove that after defeating the populists, he can govern effectively.

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