This is the first in a series of articles I call, “Know Your Dictator”.
Jaroslaw Kaczynski (PiS – Law and Justice Party is the man making the moves in Poland.
A commenter on quora.com – Piotr Szafranski – calls him a “dictator-in-waiting”.
“Much of the difference between authoritarian and liberal democratic in the political system is based on tradition and custom, not hard law,” says Piotr.
He tells us that the PiS has been throwing out tradition and common decency whenever possible.
- They abolished the law prohibiting party membership of career civil servants and fired all the current ones (are loyalty tests next?)
- Thousands out of jobs
- Jobs will be arbitrarily (without exams) given to PiS’s own party members by way of another new law.
Michal who lives in Poland tells us, “On December 14 the chancellery of the Sejm presented a proposal to change the organization of the media in the Parliament (e.g. creating a modern Media Center, a TV studio in the Sejm (the lower house of the Polish Parliament…”
Michal supports these changes, others see it as an attempt by government to control the message in the media.
After Trump’s visit in July, 2017 authoritarian moves seem to have accelerated says Oskar Gorzynski in the Daily Beast.
The government decided the country’s supreme court is corrupt and needed to be purged completely.
(Funny how often this happens as countries’ leaders move towards dictatorship.)
“A bill is introduced that will force all the court’s judges to retire and be replaced – and it is pushed through with lightning speed and without regard for procedures.”
(Is Trump leading up to this?)
Back in Poland,
“the amendment, widely considered unconstitutional and yet to be signed by the president Andrzej Duda (PiS) would give the government virtually unrestrained control over the body – and therefore much of the judicial system.
On the same day “a bill was introduced that amounts to a total purge of all 83 judges in the country’s supreme court, giving Minister of Justice, Zbigniew Ziobro, a virtually free rein in appointing their successors.”
[Kaczynski] had a meltdown and accused the parliament of killing his brother. Talking to the other party, the PO party, Zaczynski revealed that all those reforms are not really about reforming society or the state,” says a political scientist to the Daily Beast, “every one of PO’s (liberal Modern party) MP’s will end up in jail.” (Lock her up. – different circumstances, same refrain)
PiS MP Krystyna Pawlowicz says she dreams of re-instituting the old pre-war prison for political prisoners called Bereza Kartuska.
She also says that when they finish with the courts they will go after the journalists.
(It often sounds as if wanna-be dictators have a play book.)
Eliminate Constitutional Safeguards and the System of Checks and Balances
This has already been done in Poland, the Daily Beast tells us, when the PiS Party paralyzed the Constitutional Tribunal and then took it over.
“Two words describe what is happening in Poland right now: It’s a “hybrid dictatorship,” says Migalski to the Daily Beast, “We no longer deal with a liberal democracy, but it is not yet a full-fledged dictatorship like that of Putin’s Russia or Erdogan’s Turkey.”
Plans to Make Next Election Impossible to Lose
“Democracy differs from authoritarianism in that the rules of elections are certain, while the outcome is uncertain. In a dictatorship it is the other way around,” says a former PiS politician.
The thorn in Zaczynski’s side may end up being his colleague, President Andrzej Duda.
(Who is the thorn in Trump’s side?)
Citizen protests have been larger than expected.
Karolina Wigura, writing in The Guardian in May, 2018 tells us that, “Despite fears over Law and Justice, Poland is not sliding into dictatorship.”
“Poland is not stuck in its current predicament, it is an evolving scene. It’s obvious that Law and Justice has trampled on the constitution, assaulted the independence of the judiciary, and put pressure on women in ways no other government has dared since 1989. But to draw the conclusion that Poland is inexorably sliding into a new brand of authoritarianism is wrong. It misses the nuances and the behind-the-scenes efforts to seek solutions.”
Even as I write this the activities in Poland concerning their possible decisions to leave the EU (or get kicked out) are sending stocks tumbling.
Delving into another country’s politics without historical context has its limitations. However, relying on the analysis of citizens and writers offers good insight.