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Posts Tagged ‘Sierakowski’

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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Germany’s Populist Temptation

Posted by hkarner - 20. April 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 months of difficult coalition talks, German Chancellor Angela Merkel finally managed to establish a new government in early March, only to find that she has a spoiler in her own camp. To shore up his right flank, Christian Social Union leader Horst Seehofer has launched a cold war against Merkel and the German establishment.

BERLIN – Because populism is not an ideology in itself, it can easily appeal to mainstream political parties seeking to shore up flagging electoral support. There are always politicians willing to mimic populist slogans and methods to win over voters, even if doing so divides their own party. This has been proven by Republicans in the United States, Conservatives and Labourites in the United Kingdom, and Les Républicains under the new leadership of Laurent Wauquiez in France.

But the most ominous manifestation of this tendency can be found in Germany’s Christian Democratic Union/Christian Social Union. The CDU/CSU’s weak showing in last year’s parliamentary election, combined with the unprecedented gains by the populist Alternative für Deutschland (AfD), has created new schisms within the party grouping. 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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