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Posts Tagged ‘Poland’

Make no mistake: Poland and Hungary aren’t the only EU states abusing the law

Posted by hkarner - 23. Januar 2020

Date: 22‑01‑2020

Source: The Guardian by Agata Gostynska‑Jakubowska

Countries from Britain to Greece are guilty of democratic backsliding. And that threatens the integrity of the EU itself

‘It has been 10 months since the European People’s party said it would consider the fate of Hungary’s ruling party, Fidesz’, led by Viktor Orbán.

Mention concerns about the rule of law in certain EU countries, and people, even EU officials, automatically assume you are referring to Hungary and Poland. Without doubt, the state of democracy in both countries is worrying. Buoyed by strong electoral mandates, their populist governing parties are interfering with the independence of the judiciary and increasing state control of other institutions, including the media. But an equally worrying trend is less talked about. The decline in respect for the rule of law is happening elsewhere in the EU – indeed, it is an EU‑wide issue and it has the potential to undermine the functioning of the entire bloc.

The World Bank’s governance indicators show a deterioration in Bulgaria, France, Italy and Greece

Make no mistake, the European commission is justified in responding to developments in Warsaw and Budapest. Efforts there to undermine liberal democracy have been flagrant. The EU has responded by launching the so‑called article 7 procedure, sometimes referred to as the nuclear option, as it can ultimately lead to a country being stripped of its voting rights. It has also pursued legal cases against the two states at the European court of justice. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Democratic Lessons from the EU

Posted by hkarner - 15. Mai 2019

Maciej Kisilowski

Maciej Kisilowski is Associate Professor of Law and Public Management at Central European University

Wojciech Przybylski is the editor in chief of Visegrad Insight and chairman of the Res Publica Foundation in Warsaw.

Highly centralized political systems in Poland and other countries create a pernicious winner-take-all dynamic and polarize debate. The European Union’s governance system, by contrast, offers an appealing practical model for more decentralized democratic decision-making.

WARSAW – Criticizing European Union institutions, and demanding that they be reformed, is a popular pastime. But as the EU’s unified front in the never-ending Brexit negotiations has made clear, European institutions are remarkably effective in managing political diversity. Perverse as it may sound to some, nation-states can learn from Europe in addressing their own democratic deficits.

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Posted by hkarner - 31. März 2019

Date: 30-03-2019
Source: The Wall Street Journal By Yaroslav Trofimov
Subject: The Culture War Dividing Europe

Historically Catholic Poland and Ireland offer divergent visions of the continent’s future

When Pope John Paul II visited Ireland and his native Poland in 1979, these two redoubts of Catholic faith seemed to be on a similar path. Millions gathered to listen to the pontiff in Dublin and in Warsaw.

In Poland, the wave of religious fervor after the trip catalyzed resistance, spurring the Solidarity movement the following year and helping to precipitate the chain of events that led to Communism’s collapse. In Ireland, the Catholic Church’s power also appeared to grow in the aftermath of the papal visit, the first in the nation’s history. In a 1983 referendum, some two-thirds of Irish voters backed a constitutional amendment to prohibit abortion. In another referendum three years later, a similar majority followed the church’s guidance and voted against legalizing divorce.

Today, these two European Union member-states—where the Catholic Church once played a vital role in resisting foreign rule and fostering the very sense of national identity—seem to be following divergent trajectories. It is a symptom of a wider split that could threaten the entire European project. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Despite Wins, EU Frets Over Rule-of-Law Fight

Posted by hkarner - 21. Januar 2019

Date: 20-01-2019
Source: The Wall Street Journal

Brussels increasingly concede that only a change in attitudes in Europe’s east can prompt governments to shift course

Battle lines are shifting in Europe’s political fight between East and West.

Euroskeptic governments for several years have bloodied the European Union’s nose by flouting its authority. The EU has struggled to stop Hungary from closing institutions critical of the government, Poland from purging judges the ruling party disliked and Romania from proposing an amnesty for politicians convicted of corruption.

Brussels has recently scored some points, though for all the instruments Brussels wields officials increasingly concede that only a change in public attitudes in Europe’s east can really prompt governments to shift course. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Poland’s Dictatorship of Myth

Posted by hkarner - 14. August 2018

Sławomir Sierakowski, founder of the Krytyka Polityczna movement, is Director of the Institute for Advanced Study in Warsaw and a fellow at the Robert Bosch Academy in Berlin.

After passing a controversial law proscribing any mention of Polish complicity in crimes committed by the Nazis in World War II, Poland’s populist government is now backpedaling. But as a new amendment shows, history by legislation inevitably abuses the past.

WARSAW – There is no escaping history in Poland. At an abruptly convened session in late June, the Polish Sejm (the lower house of parliament) rushed through an amendment to the Act on the Institute of National Remembrance, reversing another amendment that had been adopted in January of this year. Effective immediately, attributing blame to Poland for World War II-era Nazi crimes would no longer be punishable by three years in prison.

The ruling Law and Justice Party’s (PiS) rapid defanging of its own “memory law” comes as no surprise. The original legislation invited international outrage, especially from Israel. Even US President Donald Trump – usually a close friend to Poland’s nationalists – indicated that he would not meet with Polish leaders until the crisis was resolved. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Rise of the Autocrats: Liberal Democracy Is Under Attack

Posted by hkarner - 15. Juni 2018

Date: 14-06-2018

Autocratic leaders and wannabes, from Putin to Trump, are making political inroads around the world. In recent years, Western liberal democracy has failed to live up to some of its core promises, helping to fuel the current wave of illiberalism.

The Era of the Autocrats

Russian President Vladimir Putin isn’t actually all that interested in football. He’s more of a martial arts guy, and he loves ice hockey. But when the World Cup football championship gets started on Thursday in Moscow, Putin will strive to be the perfect host. The tournament logo is a football with stars trailing behind it, evoking Sputnik, and a billion people will be tuning in as Putin presents Russia as a strong and modern country.

During the dress rehearsal, last summer’s Confed Cup, Putin held an opening address in which he spoke of „uncompromising, fair and honest play … until the very last moments of the match.“ Now, it’s time for the main event, the World Cup, giving Putin an opportunity to showcase his country to the world. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Hungary and Poland are challenging the EU’s commitment to liberal democracy

Posted by hkarner - 19. Mai 2018

Date: 17-05-2018
Source: The Economist
Subject: Viktor Orban’s visit to Warsaw showcased an illiberal alliance

A BIT of Polish doggerel from the 18th century, when Polish and Hungarian nobles fought together against the Russian empire, maintains that Poles and Hungarians are “brothers, both of the sword and of the [wine] glass”. The Hungarians have a similar rhyme. Lately this friendship has experienced a revival that goes beyond a common interest in fighting and drinking. The two countries’ ruling parties, Poland’s Law and Justice (PiS) and Hungary’s Fidesz, both disdain liberalism, disregard the independence of the judiciary and reject the European Union’s plans for resettling refugees from the Middle East. They also protect each other in Brussels, where their policies have drawn the ire of the European Commission.

On May 14th Viktor Orban, Hungary’s prime minister, visited Warsaw on his first foreign trip since winning re-election in April. It was a triumphal visit for Mr Orban, whom PiS has long admired. In 2011 Jaroslaw Kaczynski, PiS’s chairman and Poland’s de facto leader, said he was “convinced that the day will come when we will have Budapest in Warsaw”. Since coming to power in 2015, PiS has led Poland in the illiberal direction charted by Fidesz. It has packed the supreme court and turned the public media into a government propaganda channel, echoing earlier changes in Hungary. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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European Union Threatens Subsidy Cuts to Rein In Rebel Nations

Posted by hkarner - 7. Mai 2018

Date: 06-05-2018
Source: The Wall Street Journal

Hungary, Poland bristle at push by wealthier countries to demand good governance

Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s Hungarian government has clashed with Western Europe over its crackdown on independent media and civil-society organizations. Here a man holding a Hungarian flag attends an antigovernment protest in Budapest on April 21.

The European Union’s executive branch is raising the ante in its clash with Poland and Hungary over democratic values: Play ball or risk being cut out of EU funding.

A proposed sanctions mechanism would empower the European Commission, the EU executive, to  suspend funds when it finds that a country’s courts are no longer independent, when their rulings are ignored or when criminal investigations are hampered.

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Change of state

Posted by hkarner - 21. April 2018

Date: 19-04-2018
Source: The Economist

Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party is doing lasting damage
Once hollowed out, the rule of law is hard to restore

FOR a glimpse of Poland under the populist Law and Justice (PiS) party, tune in to the news on the state television channel, Telewizja Polska (TVP). The opening sequence, a computer-animated tour of Polish landmarks, homes in on the clock tower of Warsaw’s royal castle. The capital’s most recognisable building, the towering Soviet-era Palace of Culture and Science, is nowhere to be seen. Then the anchors appear, and proceed to praise PiS slavishly while branding its critics treacherous crypto-communists.

This combination of subtle and brazen nationalist revisionism captures the two-and-a-half years of PiS rule. The party has purged the public administration, made it illegal to accuse the “Polish nation” of complicity in the Holocaust, and peddled conspiracy theories about the aeroplane crash in 2010 which killed then-president Lech Kaczynski and 95 others outside Smolensk, in Russia. It has turned a blind eye to chauvinism among its supporters, while prosecuting peaceful counter-protesters at the monthly commemorations of the Smolensk disaster led by Lech’s twin brother, Jaroslaw (pictured), who is PiS’s chairman. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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Poland’s Child-Like State

Posted by hkarner - 22. März 2018

Sławomir Sierakowski, founder of the Krytyka Polityczna movement, is Director of the Institute for Advanced Study in Warsaw.

The Polish government’s wholesale refusal to admit any guilt or own up to mistakes speaks to a deep-seated immaturity. Recently, when the US secretary of state called President Andrzej Duda to oppose the government’s controversial historical memory law, Duda wouldn’t answer the phone, essentially sticking his fingers in his ears.

WARSAW – According to recent reports, the US Department of State warned Poland’s foreign ministry that it would suspend high-level meetings if the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party enacted a new law making it illegal to insinuate Polish culpability in crimes committed by the Nazis. The PiS government enacted the law anyway.

Shortly before signing the legislation, Polish President Andrzej Duda refused even to take a call from then-US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Seventy-two years after Winston Churchill declared that an “iron curtain” was descending across Eastern Europe, a new sort of border is being erected – a curtain of shame. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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