The polish head of government beata szydło of pis. Image: p. Tracz/common
Foreign countries, including many poles, are unconcerned; only gradually is polish civil society awakening from its state of shock
It is worrying news coming out of poland since the last parliamentary election in october 2015. Politicians and journalists of european media are dismayed. Poland is making the headlines again and well-known journalists and commentators are trying to be experts on poland. The basic tenor is that of complete entrapment. How could it happen? Was everything achieved so far in poland blob only a facade, which now begins to crack?
In a commentary in the austrian standard, wolfgang muller-funk wanted to show the poles and other "eastern europeans" gar "our values" and identified a "neo-authoritarian, post-communist biedermeier" in eastern europe. But isn’t it time to get to the bottom of the causes of this development?? What actually happened there and why? So far these questions have hardly been answered, i would like to try in the following.
Who are the pis voters?
First of all, it must be noted that not the poland’s now absolute ruling party "law and justice" (pis) voted, but only a relatively small part of the polish electorate. With a turnout of 50%, 37.6% of the votes went to pis. This means that just 19% or. 5.7 million out of 30 million eligible poles voted for pis "law and justice" had voted. However, due to electoral arithmetic, pis now has an absolute majority in the sejm, the polish parliament.
Who are these voters?? First of all, there is the core electorate of pis, the conservative catholic, mostly elderly people, in poland also called mohair muffs (from the typical woolen muffs worn by church-going women). These minimum pensioners are considered to be turnaround losers, they like to gather around father rydzyk’s conspiratorial and arch-conservative radio maryja and its offshoots in many parishes (radio maryja’s family). They are well organized through church circles and can be easily mobilized before elections, as was the case now.
They are the real "pis army". The number of the horer and horerinnen is estimated at ca. 1 million. These people have often been unable to cope with the liberalization and modernization of everyday life in poland, are afraid of the new and seek refuge in the old and familiar. These sectarians see in jaroslaw kaczynski a redeemer of everything that seems threatening to them: the liberal eu, a supposed jewish conspiracy, the attacks against the catholic church, globalization.
This time, however, new electoral strata, including many young people, also joined in. Pis election strategists gave the party a new, more liberal face in the last campaign, elegantly sidestepping the blood-and-soil propaganda and conspiracy theories surrounding the crash of the presidential plane over smolensk that were part of pis’s basic repertoire. The party presented itself as social and, with the duo duda-szydlo, almost youthful-moderate. Die wahlkampagne war modern, mit us-amerikanischen anleihen.
Jaroslaw kaczynski and some radical faces like antoni macierewicz were cleverly hidden in the election campaign so as not to scare off younger people. These voters certainly did not vote for a restructuring of the state, the disempowerment of the constitutional court, or a culture war; rather, they were won over by social promises, such as a 500 zloty child allowance, lowering of the retirement age, the conversion of the franc loans that hundreds of thousands of young families took out almost ten years ago in order to buy a house, or the abolition of the so-called "social insurance". Mull contracts, under which millions of young people work underpaid and often without pension insurance, bought by the letter.
However, the new pis voters have also voted for a change in policy. After eight years of liberal governments under the burger platform (po), they were tired of the arrogance of power. Many of these voters feel betrayed now that pis has revealed its true face.
Turnaround in the economic miracle country
Poland was seen in the eu as a model school for economic liberalism. Now many people in brussels are wondering how such a drastic shift in power could suddenly occur in this economic miracle country. Poland has had uninterrupted positive growth rates since 1992; even during the crisis, it never lost its growth path.
Even before joining the eu, the country resembled a huge construction site; as of 2004, additional billions of euros are being invested in the infrastructure. Thousands of kilometers of new highways and expressways have been built, modern high-speed trains connect major cities, and passengers pour out of newly renovated train stations into newly paved shopping areas lined with international department stores.
Most poles have happily accepted this new way of life, spending sundays with their families in shopping malls instead of in church, having lunch in kfc or pizza hut, standing in kilometer-long traffic jams in the direction of the baltic sea in summer and in front of the tatra resorts in winter. The liberal press, as well as public television, have elevated economic liberalism to their credo, have often faded out social problems and poverty, and have suppressed any systemic debates.
Every alternative thinker is often referred to as a "komuch" (such as "communist pig"), every questioning of the current system as "lewactwto", a pejorative term dismissed by leftist thought. The critical polish social journalism, which gained world fame through ryszard kapuscinski, for example, was replaced by gossip and stardom, by reports on political intrigues and poorly researched sensational stories. The main news on polish television has degenerated into pure infotainment along u.S. Lines, and the formerly critical newspapers, such as adam michnik’s once left-liberal gazeta wyborcza, have become propaganda tools of the vorganger government.
The arrogance of the powerful culminated in the so-called abhoraffare in 2014 and 2015, just a few months before the presidential elections. In a posh warsaw restaurant frequented by the political class, waiters, allegedly of their own volition, have been serving approx. 900 hours of conversations between the country’s leading politicians were recorded and leaked to a magazine. In the most vulgar gutter jargon, government politicians mocked their electorate, made dirty deals and agreements over calamari and expensive wine, and some openly admitted the failure of the state. Prime minister donald tusk, who was not involved in any of these affairs and who enjoyed a great deal of trust until the very end, left poland for brussels at the worst possible moment. His successor, the upright, if hapless ewa kopacz, then became the caretaker of the damage from the abhoraffare, and the liberal ruling party po was finished.