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Posts Tagged ‘Sierakowski’

Europe’s Last Dictator Makes His Last Stand

Posted by hkarner - 21. August 2020

Sławomir Sierakowski, founder of the Krytyka Polityczna movement, is Director of the Institute for Advanced Study in Warsaw and Senior Fellow at the German Council on Foreign Relations.

Although it was always predictable, Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko’s threat to unleash a violent crackdown on the country’s expanding protest movement represents an ominous harbinger of what may await the country. But Lukashenko may lose his bet on the loyalty of the security forces.

MINSK – Has this week of massive, mostly peaceful protests against Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko been merely the calm before the storm? Following the fraudulent presidential election on August 9, Lukashenko’s latest statements about the expanding protest movement sound ominous: “There must be no more unrest in Minsk. The people are tired. They want peace and quiet. … The majority is used to living in a quiet country. We have to return this calm country to them.” The fear now is that these unfounded claims will be used to justify martial law.

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Europe Bails Out Its Populists

Posted by hkarner - 30. Juli 2020

Date: 30‑07‑2020

Source: Project Syndicate by Slawomir Sierakowski

Slawomir Sierakowski, founder of the Krytyka Polityczna movement, is Director of the Institute for Advanced Study in Warsaw and Senior Fellow at the German Council on Foreign Relations. 

Following grueling negotiations over the European Union’s budget and pandemic response, it is not surprising that much of the attention has focused on an historic agreement that will establish a proto‑fiscal policy. Less surprising still is that the rule of law has once again received short shrift.

WARSAW – As expected, the European Parliament has torn into the European Council’s recently agreed budget and pandemic‑response package. The €1.8 trillion ($2.1 trillion) price tag and proposed cuts to development funding, including science and research, have predictably met with resistance. But the biggest stumbling block was always going to be the proposal to make EU funding conditional on respect for the rule of law.

Arguing in support of such conditionality, Dacian Ciolos, the leader of the centrist Renew Europe group, claims that, “This is not aimed against Hungary nor against Poland or any other member state.” Rather, the point is to “ensure that European money no longer finances governments which continuously turn their backs on our fundamental values on a daily basis.”

But it is no secret that in both Hungary and Poland, EU funds are systematically used to finance political or private corruption and fund handouts to political cronies. The most recent example is the takeover of Hungary’s last independent news website, read by millions of Hungarians. Moreover, the governments led by Fidesz in Hungary and Law and Justice (PiS) in Poland are among the least inclined to show solidarity when it comes to accepting refugees or supporting the European Green Deal. Poland, for example, is the only EU member state that has refused to adopt a “net‑zero carbon” target for 2050. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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The Twilight of EU Foreign Policy

Posted by hkarner - 30. Januar 2020

Sławomir Sierakowski, founder of the Krytyka Polityczna movement, is Director of the Institute for Advanced Study in Warsaw and Senior Fellow at the German Council on Foreign Relations.

Following decisions by both Russia and Turkey to involve themselves in Libya’s civil war, Germany and France have responded with their own diplomatic initiatives, and the European Union has been left playing a bit part. But by violating the spirit, if not the letter, of the Treaty of Lisbon, EU member states merely weaken themselves.

BERLIN – Reporting on a recent conference in Berlin to discuss the conflict in Libya, one of Germany’s largest newspapers, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, notes that, “the days when America dominated the Middle East are over.” For more than a decade, the United States has been pulling back, forcing Europe to unfurl its own protective umbrella, either through the European Union or through the foreign policies of individual member states. It is now clear that the second option is winning out. Recent developments in Iran and Libya show that the EU has ceased to be a relevant force in international affairs.

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The Survival of Democracy in Central and Eastern Europe

Posted by hkarner - 21. Oktober 2019

Sławomir Sierakowski, founder of the Krytyka Polityczna movement, is Director of the Institute for Advanced Study in Warsaw and Senior Fellow at the German Council on Foreign Relations.

Following parliamentary elections in Poland and local elections in Hungary, populist autocrats in both countries remain in power, where they will continue to undermine democratic institutions. Even so, relative victories for opposition forces in both countries show that the region’s „illiberal democrats“ are not unbeatable.

WARSAW – Is populism in Central and Eastern Europe finally losing its momentum? In Poland, opposition parties won the Senate, and the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party’s share of the vote slipped to 43.7%, from 45.5% in European Parliament elections this past May. And in Hungary’s local elections, the opposition retook power in Budapest and won mayoral races in ten other cities.

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The Mainstreaming of Corruption

Posted by hkarner - 29. September 2019

Sławomir Sierakowski, founder of the Krytyka Polityczna movement, is Director of the Institute for Advanced Study in Warsaw and Senior Fellow at the German Council on Foreign Relations.

Unethical behavior by populist parties across the West has forced traditional parties to abandon their own moral standards. And the evidence suggests that if mainstream politicians want to try to beat populists at their own corrupt game, their supporters will reward them for it.

WARSAW – As we have seen in recent years, domination by a populist party can lead to the deep polarization of an electorate. But it also erodes the ethical fabric of political life. Unable to defeat populists through the usual methods, traditional parties have begun to emulate their opponents, leaving voters with no alternative but to embrace cynicism.

In many countries, even supporters of anti-populist parties have begun consciously accepting pathological behavior, rule-breaking, and even illegal acts on the part of their chosen political representatives. Following Gresham’s Law, which holds that bad money drives out the good, opposition forces increasingly feel compelled to scheme and cheat in order to win. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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The Age of Cynical Voters

Posted by hkarner - 19. Juli 2019

Sławomir Sierakowski, founder of the Krytyka Polityczna movement, is Director of the Institute for Advanced Study in Warsaw and Senior Fellow at the German Council on Foreign Relations.

Voters who support populist parties and leaders are making political choices that they know to be risky because they feel as though they have nothing to lose. As behavioral economists would predict, people become less risk-averse when the perceived choice is between “bad” and “worse.”

WARSAW – We all know that politicians are cunning and cynical, but could the same now be said for the electorate?

Many of those who voted for US President Donald Trump did so knowing that he is a habitual liar with suspicious ties to Russia, just as the rank and file of the Conservatives in the United Kingdom know that Boris Johnson has and cheated his way to the top. In Poland, it is no secret that the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party is packing governing institutions with its lackeys, misusing public media, rewarding cronies, and undermining the independence of the courts. Nonetheless, PiS trounced Poland’s opposition parties in the European Parliament election in May.The fact that Poles, Britons, and Americans have all ushered in morally bankrupt governments is symptomatic of what German philosopher Peter Sloterdijk described in the early 1980s as “cynical reason.” Sloterdijk argued that, in the absence of widely shared narratives of progress, the Western elites had absorbed the lessons of the Enlightenment, but applied them in the service of narrow self-interest rather than the common good.  Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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How to Beat a Populist

Posted by hkarner - 3. April 2019

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.

The progressive reformer Zuzana Čaputová’s victory in Slovakia’s presidential election suggests that populists‘ biggest strength is a weak opposition. If her winning formula is adopted elsewhere, populist forces‘ recent gains in Western democracies could be reversed.

WARSAW – There have never been more populist governments in place than today. Until now, populists have not been voted out of power in any Western country. Even though the president of Slovakia has only symbolic power, anti-corruption campaigner Zuzana Čaputová’s landslide victory over a populist candidate this weekend could signal a change in populists’ ability to make the political weather in Europe. At the same time, the apparent victory of TV comedian and political novice Volodymyr Zelensky in the first round of Ukraine’s presidential election suggests that the populist wave may not have crested yet.

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Germany Is Still Playing Defense

Posted by hkarner - 14. Dezember 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.

The Christian Democratic Union’s selection of Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer as its next leader means that Chancellor Angela Merkel is still very much in charge of Germany. That means three more years of cautious restraint in the face of challenges that demand bold action.

BERLIN – An old joke among non-Americans is that they, too, deserve a vote in US presidential elections, given how central that office is to their lives. When Germany’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) met this month to select a new leader, Europeans probably felt the same way.

Not only is the CDU Germany’s largest party; it is also the largest in the European Union. At its recent congress in Hamburg, the word “Europe” was uttered constantly, with most speakers declaring a sense of responsibility for what happens across the EU.

The election of Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer to succeed German Chancellor Angela Merkel as party leader reflects this sentiment, as it amounts to a bid for continuity. As a Merkel loyalist, Kramp-Karrenbauer is not likely to push the chancellor out before her term ends in 2021. 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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Merkel’s House Divided

Posted by hkarner - 27. Juni 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 years of blocking eurozone reforms at every turn, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has suddenly come out in favor of a common budget. But the reason is not that she has seen the economic light; it is that she needs help facing down a domestic political rebellion that could very well topple her government.

BERLIN – Divisions within Germany’s ruling coalition over refugees have started to jeopardize Chancellor Angela Merkel’s control of the government. To put down a rebellion launched by her own interior minister, Horst Seehofer of the Bavaria-based Christian Social Union (CSU), Merkel now must secure agreements with other European Union member states to bring order to Europe’s asylum system. And that, in turn, requires German concessions on eurozone reforms.

Germany has always been the foremost beneficiary of the EU’s incoherent economic status quo. In the absence of a joint fiscal policy, the common currency shared by Europe’s poorer south and its more productive north has the effect of artificially boosting German exports. It is little wonder, then, that Merkel-led governments have consistently opposed eurozone reforms, including those proposed by French President Emmanuel Macron last year. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »

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