What’s next for Poland?

A short interview with Dariusz Kalan, Analyst of International Affairs, Freelance Journalist.

1. EU pressure, people demonstrating. It is not unexpected, but it seems PiS does not care much. Would you say there is anything PiS is concerned about or Jaroslaw Kaczyński  simply feels he can do anything and will move with its agenda even further? And if yes, what even further could mean?

Everyone thinks the next step would be media, but a surprising rebellion of President Andrzej Duda made it bit complicated as initial plan was to pass judiciary bills by holidays. Now, it will go on and on, and taking into account possible further erosion of the relations between JK and Duda PiS may be more focused on its internal problems rather than continue with changes in the second half of the year. Till now, JK made step back only once, when mass protests reacted to his project of abortion ban. It’s important to remember than PiS builds its message on having full support from the nation, or sovereign, as they call it, so any sort of demonstrations are very inconvenient to them, even if public media do everything they can to put them off.

2. Why PiS felt something must be done about  the Supreme Court? PiS would be able to run the country even without it, wouldn’t it? 

Mutual distrust has marked relations between the judiciary and PiS since the party was established in 2001. The name chosen reflects a desire to take the initiative in the space. JK and his trusted, justice minister Zbigniew Ziobro – both lawyers by education – have been long demanding, for instance, removal of judges who worked for the communist regime and improvement in the functioning of courts. This is part of their identity, but it’s also true that PiS know they can count on a trump card – Poles’ traditionally low confidence in public institutions, including courts. According to a study conducted in 2016, 60 percent of interviewees agreed that courts care mainly about their own interests, and 57 percent thought judges are corrupt. So, they basically use public distrust to make their power even broader, especially those of Ziobro, who would benefit most. He is known as “the sheriff” among his supporters and would get powers that no minister has enjoyed since 1989.

3. Orban is saying Poland has his support on the EU level. How strong is this “bond”? Is it something like “illiberal axis” or you see some clear differences in HU and PL positions and approaches?

Orban is pragmatic and thinks about himself. It’s very convenient to him that European Commission deals with Poland, as he’s no longer a troublemaker. I don’t think Kaczyński trusts him as he did, due to Orban’s “non-loyalty” on Tusk, but sad true is that Warsaw has no many friends left. Judiciary laws sparked some controversies in Slovakia and the Czech Republic (among judges), and, of course, the US, which was particularly shocking as it happened only few weeks after very successful visit of President Trump.

 

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