From Poland With Love – October 

Topic of the month

Election Results

Everything is clear now. After a long campaign we know the final results of the elections, we know the composition of the new parliament, names of the newly elected members and who will lead the government for the next four year. But is it really all so clear and obvious? Less so than four years ago…

Law and Justice (PiS) will form a new old government — it won 43,6% of the votes, giving it 235 seats, a majority of five in the 460 seat Sejm. Jarosław Kaczyński said that support from voters was a clear message for the party to continue pushing for its policies, such as a judicial overhaul that the EU condemned as a threat to the rule of law. But Jarosław Kaczyński was not really happy delivering his “victory speech” on the election night. We could even say that he was disappointed, angry and grumpy. And there is at least three reasons for that, namely, the composition of the PiS Group in the parliament, the Confederation and the Senate.

But let start with the basics… In 2015 PiS got 37% of the vote and it gave the party exactly the same number of seats in the Sejm, 235. So after four years in power, four years of huge social transfers from the state budget to the PiS electorate, connected with a permanent campaign done for the party by all the ministries, state agencies and TVP, PiS got a very impressive result if it comes to a number of votes, but its victory was smaller than expected (in the EP elections PiS got 45,3% and now hoped for 50%) and did not improve the party’s situation in the Sejm.

What is more PiS Group in the parliament will be less “PiS-ish” than before. How come? In reality PiS is a coalition of three parties, officially called the United Right. PiS of course plays the hegemonic role, but leaders of two satellite parties, the Solidarity Poland and the Alliance, had visible representation in the previous government. Leader of the first one Zbigniew Ziobro was a powerful justice minister and leader of the latter one Jarosław Gowin was even a deputy PM and minister of culture. Now these two parties will have 19 MPs each. This is a strong card to play in the internal negotiations with PiS. Without MPs of either of them PiS would not have the majority. Both leaders were trying to use their post-election momentum and negotiate more for their loyalists. Jarosław Gowin said that his party would not support the new tax for entrepreneurs that is supposed to save the 2020 budget and required a more prestigious ministry for his colleague Jadwiga Emilewicz, current minister of entrepreneurship. Zbigniew Ziobro, on the other hand, who is in a personal conflict with PM Mateusz Morawiecki, called for an open discussion about a different prime minister candidate (suggesting Jarosław Kaczyński) and asking for deputy PM position for himself. It seems like PiS has managed to de-escalate all these internal conflicts so far and the negotiations moves on a lower level, the one secretary of states and jobs in SOCs. But the future developments within the right wing coalition may be very interesting and more dynamic than earlier.

The other thing that worries Jarosław Kaczyński is the Confederation. The newly created alliance of nationalists, ultra-conservative libertarians, and other small extremist groups, passed the threshold, got almost 7% of the vote and will be represented in the Sejm. It means that PiS will have a competitor on the right and this is something that PiS as a political project cannot accept. PiS was created as a party that caters all voters on the right. New extremely conservative MPs could become a big problem for Jarosław Kaczyński and his team. Luckily for PiS, the Confederation will have only 11 seats and their MPs have already announced they would not create one group, but two: nationalistic and one connected with extravagant former MEP Janusz Korwin-Mikke.

But PiS has also a problem with PSL. PSL in coalition with Kukiz’15 was polling at 5% but got 8,6% and will have 30 MPs. After terrible 2015 result PSL will have again a visible representation without a risk of losing the group in the Sejm (in the previous term the group was saved by some MPs expelled from PO). Party leader Władysław Kosiniak-Kamysz created a coherent story about himself as a reasonable and moderate conservative leader who is looking for dialogue and is able to build compromises. He may offer an attractive alternative for less radical PiS supporters and get a significant share of Andrzej Duda’s votes in the upcoming presidential elections.

To complete the picture also the results of the Left and the Civic Coalition should be commented. After four years, the Left is coming back to the Sejm. Three left wing parties, namely SLD, Wiosna (Spring) and Razem (Together) run a campaign with a slogan “three generations of the Polish left” and got satisfactory result of 12,6%. It was less than many commentators hoped for but enough to win 49 seats. Razem, the most radical of the three, will have 6 MPs who still have not decided if they will form a common group with the other two parties or will remain separately building their own brand recognition. Debuting Wiosna won 19 seats but it will probably be fastest party to end its life in Polish modern history. Wiosna, according to the coalition agreement with SLD, will not get any state subsidies and will soon merge with the Social Democrats. The party created only a few months ago by Robert Bieroń was practically abandoned by its leader who won a seat in the European Parliament and broke a promise to lead its team in the general elections. The situation in Wiosna can be symbolized by the fact that one of its three MEPs has recently left it in protests against the leadership. It seems like the election result was a big personal success of Włodzimierz Czarzasty of SLD who finally won a mandate and big state subsidies for next four years.

Finally, the Civic Coalition. The centrist alliance of PO, Nowoczesna, the Greens and local politicians, got 27,4% of the vote and will have 134 seats (some 30 less than PO and Nowoczesna in 2015). Nowoczesna won 8 mandates. The Greens for the first time ever will be represented in the Sejm with 3 MPs. There will be also a visible representation of independent candidates in the Coalition club in which there will be only around 100 PO MPs. The result was below expectations and immediately after the elections a group of young MPs called for changes in the leadership of the party. Grzegorz Schetyna is being attacked from different sides, even more so because in his home constituency in Wrocław he got over 27 thousands votes less than the PiS lead candidate did. Popular former justice minister Borys Budka announced that he may run for PO chairperson in January elections but firstly he is proposing him as a candidate for group leader. Grzegorz Schetyna will not give up easily and PO is awaiting turbulent times.

But there is also the Senate. A forgotten chamber, whose actions are unknown to majority of Poles, is now in the spotlight. The opposition took control over the upper chamber and has 51 seats compared to 49 for PiS. To be precise: PO has 41 seats, SLD- 5, PSL- 2 and there’s 3 independents connected to the opposition (including Wadim Tyszkiewicz, one of the founders of Nowoczesna); on the other side there’s 48 PiS senators and one PiS-leaning independent senator. The senate is less powerful than the Sejm. It can delay and amend legislation, but the Sejm can override such moves with an absolute majority. However, the Senate also has a say in nominating many key officials, which will undermine PiS’s attempts to put all government institutions under its control. The latter situation includes the Ombudsman who will be elected next year. The Senate can become a powerful tool in hands of the opposition that will serve as a brake for the government that is not respecting democratic standards and procedures. Now the opposition block must agree on a common candidate for the Speaker (Marshall) of the chamber. Grzegorz Schetyna promotes the former Speaker and dissident Borusewicz, Schetyna enemies would rather see in the position Bogdan Zdrojewski, former mayor of Wrocław and MEP, known as the biggest critic of the current party leader, a group of young politicians is lobbying for Krzysztof Brejza, one of the most active MPs in the previous parliament. They must find a solution by mid November, when the first session is planned for.

The victory in the Senate gave a bit of optimism and energy to the opposition. It is very important before the presidential elections in May 2020. Today president Andrzej Duda is going confidentially for re-election. But if the opposition unites around one candidate Duda’s success can be questioned. Today the opposition has no common candidate. The left announced that it would run their own candidate. It was said in the campaign that it will be Robert Biedroń, but younger activists are favoring Adrian Zandberg of Razem (with a strong mandate from Warsaw) or a women. PSL’s popular Władysław Kosiniak-Kamysz according to the polls would have the biggest chances to defeat Duda in the second round, but the problem is that in the first round his support will be too low to go further. The most probable Civic Coalition candidate is now Małgorzata Kidawa-Błońska, former Speaker of the Sejm and the centrist block PM candidate in the recent elections. Kidawa-Błońska got impressive 400 thousands votes (vis a vis 244 thousands of Kaczyński) and is still seen as a trustworthy politician that can unite people. Tomasz Siemoniak, the deputy leader of Civic Platform, called her “the natural presidential candidate”. Donald Tusk can be an alternative candidate but still has not announced if he’s interested.

 

OSCE Report

According to a report from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), a democracy monitor in which 57 countries participate, coverage by state media favored the PiS in the campaign elections. Jan Petersen, the head of the election observation mission, said observers had noted a high level of polarization in the public and private media.

Petersen added that voters’ ability to “make an informed choice was undermined by a lack of impartiality in the media, especially the public broadcaster.” The OSCE reports that the PiS also used state media as a mouthpiece to praise its own candidates and cast opponents in a negative light.

 

Protests

After PiS lost the majority in the Senate, it protested against the results in six constituencies where their candidates were defeated. PiS deputy spokesperson told reporters the party had spotted “anomalies”, namely “much higher numbers of invalid votes” in some districts that outweighed the differences in vote totals for the respective candidates. Therefore, they asked the Supreme Court for recounts. So far, the National Election Committee gave negative recommendation for such recounts. The Court has now 90 days to decide. The decision will be taken by a newly created chamber in the Supreme Court whose judges were nominated by unconstitutionally created by PiS National Committee of the Judiciary.

PiS is also looking to get the majority in another way, trying to buy senators. One opposition senator, Tomasz Grodzki, said he had been approached by PiS and asked if he would like to become minister of health. He refused and went public about this proposal.

 

Politics

VAT Scams in Finance Ministry. The Banaś Scandal Continues

The scandal connected to Marian Banaś is developing. In September, TVN24 reported that Banaś let a house he owns in Krakow to a shady business, namely the rooms were rent by the hour. It was run by a local escort agency known for its brutality. Hidden camera footage showed a reporter making payment to use a room for one hour, but not being given a receipt — in violation of fiscal law. New chief of the Supreme Audit Office (NIK) denied any connection, claiming that he is burdened by “insulations” rather than “charges”, labeling the report as “a great manipulation and provocation against me and the government.”

Marian Banaś was expected to leave the office after the October elections and be replaced by somebody else appointed by PiS. But since PiS lost the majority in the Senate and the upper chamber’s approval is required for appointment of the NIK chief, it was expected that the changes would be done by the old Sejm and Senate during an extraordinary sitting. But for such move Banaś would have to resign. But he didn’t. And he is not going to. The Polish Constitution does not envisage the recall of heads of NIK once they have been elected. They serve a term of six years in office. PiS would have to use extraordinary measures and maybe even ask the opposition for help. But so far nothing has happened. It is said that Banaś, a former finance minister, knows too much about PiS’s businesses and connections to be removed. So PiS has a big problem. In addition, Polish state has a big problem now since one of the key institutions of the republic are in hands of a mafia-connected person.

What is more, according to “Rzeczpospolita”, former finance ministry officials have been arrested and accused of being involved in VAT fraud. The charges relate to the period of time in which the two officials (Arkadiusz B. and Krzysztof B., who cannot be named, as they are both to be tried) served in the finance ministry, even though they left it in 2018. Later it was reported that one of the arrested officials was Banaś’s right hand in the ministry.

Both the officials concerned actually worked in a department responsible for VAT issues. It looks to be a case of gamekeepers turned poachers. The estimated size of the amount defrauded from the budget is ca. EUR 1,2 mln.

“Rzeczpospolita” revealed that not only has the regional prosecutor’s office been investigating the issue for the past two years, but also Arkadiusz B.’s co-workers sent an anonymous letter, alerting the ministry about his possible abuse of power. It took a year and a half for the letter to reach the ministry’s internal inspection division, and even though it stated that part of these accusations might have been true, Arkadiusz B. was allowed to continue working for the ministry.

This raises even more questions about what the secret services knew. Not only they didn’t monitor Banaś and his links to mafia properly before he was appointed the NIK chief, but also they didn’t know about VAT scams inside the ministry. Or maybe they knew all that and did not do anything about it…

 

Prison for Sex Educators

Polish MPs have voted in favor of a bill to criminalize “the promotion of underage sexual activity,” in a move called by some commentators as an attempt to secure conservative votes and to provoke liberal activists to take some radical steps that will help the government to polarize the society again. Teachers who flout the ban could face up to five years in prison. Polish schools do not offer formal sex education, instead teaching students how to “prepare for family life.” PiS have condemned previous attempts to broaden sex education in Poland, claiming such efforts would “sexualize” children.

The new bill got support from the Catholic Church. Bishop Ignacy Dec has said: “it is worrying that some local authorities are introducing to pre-schools and schools sexualisation programmes recommended by the World Health Organization, which just harm children and youths.”

According to the opposition, the new bill — known as the “Stop Pedophilia” law — was created only to punish sex educators. The legislation would “criminalize the promotion of underage sexual activity” and would see anti-abortion and anti-contraception ideology taught in Polish schools. Anna Blus, a researcher with Amnesty International, described the legislation as “outrageous” and “extremely vague and broad.”

As hundreds of protesters gathered outside the parliament and in cities across Poland, PiS MPs voted for the bill to go to a parliamentary commission for further work. Protesters were holding banners such as “Education protects against violence” and “Banning sex education is rape.”

 

Society

Trapped Tigers

Ten tigers were travelling from Rome to a circus in Dagestan, Russia. In Poland they were prevented from entering Belarus as they lacked veterinary documents. Neither the driver of the truck nor the animals had the correct permits to enter Belarus.

The animals were stranded at the border for a few days, with facilities for unloading the animals who are said to be exhausted. Experts from the Poznań zoo arrived to examine the animals. “Our employees arrived at the scene to discover a real nightmare. The tigers have excrement stuck to their fur and are tired and hungry. Our veterinarian says their condition is appalling,” reported the zoo’s management. One of the tigers died. “The animals are locked up, unfed with nothing to drink, it is a huge tragedy,” the zoo added on Facebook.

The animals were transported to Poznań. The zoo plans to quarantine the animals and hopes to send a few of them to Spain once they recover, with assistance from the Dutch Animal Advocates organization.

The district prosecution in Lublin informed the organizer of the transport, Russian Federation citizen Rinat V., has been detained on charges of cruelty to animals.

 

European Affairs

Commissioner Wojciechowski

After a long battle Janusz Wojciechowski was approved by the European Parliament’s Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development (AGRI) as the new EU agriculture commissioner.

In his first hearing on October 1st, Wojciechowski spent most of the time on the ropes, taking successive blows from relentless MEPs who went ballistic as he used “I’m open to discussions” mantra in reply to every technical question, EURACTIV.com reported. Following the evaluation of his performance, political groups’ coordinators in the committee sent Wojciechowski a further seven questions in writing. Following the assessment of his written replies, they asked the Parliament’s Conference of Presidents (EP President and leaders of political groups in the House) for permission to resume Wojciechowski’s hearing. The request was greenlighted.

In the second hearing Wojeciowski was more specific. “Last time, I received a very clear signal from you: you don’t want a commissioner only open to dialogue but you expect concrete actions,” the candidate said. He tried to give more details on EU programs already in place. “I will support organic farming that might contribute to the protection of the natural environment and I will present an action plan to develop organic farming,” he announced. “We have to produce healthy food, but it’s not the quantity of food that matters, even if it is important for food security. Maintaining [high standards of] food quality is my main task,” he continued. He also added that he would support reducing unnecessary bureaucracy in farming, so that farmers could focus on land and livestock, rather than filling out forms.

Speaking of forestry preservation, he said the EU must employ measures under the Common Agricultural Policy to protect forests, which was controversial having in mind that his mother party is know in Europe for chopping down trees in the primeval Białowieża forest.

Also, in the second hearing Wojciechowski switched from English into Polish, which- according to Brussels commentators- has positively influenced his answers.

Although group coordinators in AGRI unanimously rewarded Wojciechowski’s second attempt to win their confidence, their counterparts in the Environment Committee (ENVI) voted down the Pole, according to EURACTIV.com. However, AGRI was the leading committee for Wojciechowski’s approval.

Janusz Wojciechowski was a long-standing MEP representing PSL (2004–2006), the Polish People’s Party “Piast” (2006–2010) and, lately, PiS (since 2010). In 2016, he left the parliament to become a member of the Court of Auditors. EU ministers approved Wojciechowski as a member of the European Court of Auditors even though the European Parliament rejected Wojciechowski as a candidate for the post (the European Parliament’s opinion was not binding on EU ministers). Some MEP doubted Wojciechowski, a PiS member, could be an independent auditor.

 

PiS MEPs on Death Punishment for LGBT People

The European Parliament adopted three resolutions taking stock of the human rights situation in Uganda. In an environment which is already highly discriminatory for LGBTI people, MEPs express their deep concern at the possible resurgence of the anti-homosexuality law in the Ugandan political debate, which would, if introduced, include the death penalty for “aggravated acts of homosexuality”. The EP regrets emphatically the use of the death penalty under any circumstances and reminds the Ugandan government of its obligations under international law and the Cotonou Agreement, which calls for universal human rights to be respected. MEPs also call on the EU delegation in the country to continue to monitor the situation for LGBTI people closely and to actively support civil society organizations and human rights defenders on the ground. The resolution was adopted by 521 votes in favor, 4 against and 110 abstentions.

MEPs from PiS abstained in vote causing criticism in Poland. Politicians of the Left stressed even that PiS  is in favor of the capital punishment for LGBT people in Uganda. Because of its anti-LGBT obsession in Poland PiS MEPs were not able to take clear stand on the horrifying Ugandan law and forcefully criticize plans of killing sexual minorities.

“Our faction coordinators decided that the text of the resolution does not suit us,” said PiS MEP Zdzisław Krasnodębski in an interview with a private broadcaster RMF FM. “In a separate vote, we strongly supported the part of the resolution that condemned the death penalty for LGBT people,” said Krasnodębski adding that “we are against the death penalty for LGBT people, against the death penalty in general. Me personally, I am against the death penalty. But we have rejected the resolution as a whole.”

 

EC vs. Poland in ECJ

The European Commission filed an official case at the European Court of Justice against Polish government over new measures they have introduced for disciplining judges, which the EU says violates the principle of judicial independence. The Commission said in a statement that it was acting “on the grounds that the new disciplinary regime undermines the judicial independence of Polish judges and does not ensure the necessary guarantees to protect judges from political control.”

Poland has consistently argued that the EU has no jurisdiction to police member states over how they set up their court systems and has signaled it is ready to go to battle against the bloc.

 

Innovation and New Tech

Windfarms in the Baltic Sea

Poland is set to become one of the biggest centers in Europe for offshore wind, according to speakers at the Maritime Economy Forum Gdynia who predict the sector will generate an estimated 77.000 jobs and EUR 14,1 billion for the economy by 2030.

Poland’s biggest energy company PGE presented forecasts showing Poland’s Baltic Sea has the capacity to generate nine to 12GW of energy, ranking it second only to the North Sea, which has capacity for 13GW. To date, 13 windfarm projects are under consideration in there that could generate 25% of Poland’s energy by offshore wind by 2040. The plan currently being debated is for 4,6GW to be installed by 2030, scaling up to six GW by 2035 and 10GW by 2040.

PGE Baltica announced the company is looking to build three windfarms with an option to develop more of the 13 concession sites together with other energy companies. They will generate 2.5GW of power combined, is due to start in 2022 and be installed by 2035. The proposed windfarms are situated 20 kilometers from the Polish coastline and are expected to create maintenance work for 18 years with the first electricity coming online in 2025-2026.

“The Baltic windfarm project provides massive opportunities for the Polish maritime engineering sector, the ports industry and the sector globally,” mayor or Gdynia Wojcieh Szczurek said. “It is fantastic to see our maritime industry join forces with the energy sector to put the infrastructure in place to build these huge windfarms. And we want to ensure work can start as soon as possible. Poland’s current energy demand is 41GW and growing. But with the coal power stations coming to the end of their life we know by 2035 it will be necessary to close down 20GW of aging coal power stations in Poland.  As a result, there is a massive responsibility to make the Baltic windfarm happen.”

Two weeks after the Forum, the ministry of investment and development signed a letter of intent for a renewable energy deal with General Electric. According to U.S. Ambassador to Poland, Georgette Mosbacher, plans for an offshore wind farm in the Baltic Sea will increase Poland’s energy security.

The Maritime Economy Forum Gdynia gathered on October 11, for the nineteenth time already, Polish maritime industry specialists who in cooperation with invited experts summarized the most important current issues of the world and Polish maritime economy and outlined possible directions for development.

 

CD Project to Watch

Bloomberg has just listed Polish CD Project on its list of 50 Companies to Watch. CD Project is Poland’s largest video game maker, could beat analysts’ 2020 sales forecasts with the April release of its much-anticipated role-playing game, Cyberpunk 2077. The game could sell 20 million units in the launch year, according to Bloomberg.

The list is made by Bloomberg analyst who observe 2.000 companies and identified those that are poised to release products or services with blockbuster potential in the year ahead, as well those that face unusual challenges. The analysts considered revenue growth, margins, market share, debt, and other factors such as economic conditions, and came up with this list of 50 worth watching.

 

Economy

Narrow Gender Gap

According to the European Commission, women in the EU still earn on average 16% less than men. “Compared to last year, when women earned 16,2% less, the situation improved only slightly,” the EC stated.

According to the latest available EC data, the gender pay gap is the smallest in Romania (3,5%), Luxembourg and Italy (5,0% each), Belgium (6,0%) and Poland (7,2%). Poland is ahead of countries such as Slovenia (8,0%), Croatia (11,6%), Malta (12,2%), Greece (12,5%) and Sweden (12,6%). The UK with its 20,8% result ranks 25th in this ranking, followed by Germany (21,0%) and the Czech Republic (21,1%). Estonia (25,6%) ranks last in this regard.

 

People in Warsaw Rich as Average Europeans

Huge disparities persist between the wealth of Poles living in Warsaw and the wealth of Poles living in various other counties of Poland. The poorest people live in Szydłowiec – the purchasing power of the city’s average inhabitant is over three times smaller than the purchasing power of the average inhabitant of Warsaw (EUR 13.150). The average Pole can afford to spend EUR 7.589 annually; up from EUR 7.228 and EUR 6.710 in 2018 and 2017 respectively (the average European has EUR 14.739 at his disposal).

In total, Europeans can spend nearly EUR 10 trillion this year, about 3,5% more than last year. The richest (on average) people live in Liechtenstein, while the poorest people live in Moldova, Kosovo, and Ukraine.

 

Culture

5th Nobel!

For the first time in the Nobel Prize for Literature’s 118-year history, two authors were announced on Thursday, October 10, as recipients of the award for two different years: Austrian novelist and playwright Peter Handke and Polish author Olga Tokarczuk. Handke received the Prize for 2019. Tokarczuk received the Prize for 2018.

Tokarczuk received the 2018 Nobel Prize in Literature “for a narrative imagination that with encyclopedic passion represents the crossing of boundaries as a form of life,” the Nobel Academy said.

Olga Tokarczuk has been for many years a literature star in Poland but in recent years her international career sped up. In 2018 she made her international breakthrough by winning the Man Booker International prize. She won it with a novel, Flights, which was originally published in Polish in 2007. This year she was nominated for the Man Booker again, this for the eco-criminal story Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead published in Polish 10 years ago and filmed by Agnieszka Holland (under the title Spoor).

Her latest masterpiece, The Books of Jacob, tells the story of an 18th-century religious leader Jakub Frank, who led the forcible conversion of his Jewish followers to both Islam and Catholicism at various points. After the launch of novel, her publisher had to hire personal protection for her since she got threats from far right activists. She was denounced as a traitor for suggesting in an interview that Poland wasn’t just a brave survivor of centuries of oppression but had been a pretty appalling oppressor itself at times in its history. The 912-page-long book was sold in 170.000 copies and won Nike, Poland’s top literature award. English translation of The Book of Jacob should be ready in 2021. “It’s such a big book that I am not sure we will be able to bring it forward,” said her publisher.

Olga Tokarczuk has been always visible in the Polish public discussion. She was an open supporter of the Green party, a dreadlocked vegetarian feminist. She has been fighting against far right nationalism and discrimination and Polish government did not see her literature as worth being promoted. Oddly enough, two days before she won the award the minister of culture said in an interview that he had never finished any of her books. The Polish Institute that promotes Polish culture abroad has removed recently her name from the list of promoted authors.

Tokarczuk said in a phone interview with the Academy shortly after winning the prize that she was “surprised” and “cannot find the right words” to express how she feels. She added that she was happy to know that both awards went to authors from central Europe, noting the region’s challenges with democracy.

Olga Tokarczuk was born in 1962 in Sulechów. Her parents were teachers and her father was a school librarian. In the library, “she read pretty much everything she could get hold of,” the Academy says in a biography of the author. Now she lives with her translator partner and their dogs in a rural area of Lower Silesia that only became part of Poland after the Second World War.

Since the Nobel Prize in Literature was established in 1901, Poland has had five winners: Henryk Sienkiewicz (1905), Władysław Reymont (1924), Czesław Miłosz (1980), Wisława Szymborska (1996) and Olga Tokarczuk (2019). The list of Nobel prize winners who were born in Poland (or in the territory that was once Poland) is significantly longer and includes names like names like Shmuel Yosef Agnon (born in Buczacz, wrote in Hebrew), Isaac Bashevis Singer (born in Leoncin, wrote in Yiddish) or Günter Grass (born in Gdańsk, wrote in German).

 

Breakdancing Countertenor

Jakub Józef Orliński won the Gramophone Classical Music Award, which has been called an “Oscar of the world of music”. “This is one of the most important awards in the world” – emphasizes Zofia Zembrzuska from the Adam Mickiewicz Institute. The winners are chosen by journalists of “Gramophone” magazine and a wide range of representatives of the music industry – journalists, salespersons, concert hall directors and musicians.

Orliński is a 28 years old Polish countertenor. He is a graduate of the Fryderyk Chopin University of Music. He has performed in Carnegie Hall as well as Alice Tully Hall at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York and met with positive critical reviews from “The New York Times”.

In 2017 he was asked to perform a solo for a French radio programme. He chose “Vedrò con mio diletto,” an aria from Vivaldi’s 1724 opera “Il Giustino.” Orliński put on baggy shorts and beat-up sneakers, and rolled up the sleeves of a crumpled tattersall shirt. His pianist, Alphonse Cémin, was in shorts and flip-flops at the recording venue. They didn’t know it was also transmitted on Facebook Live. The video of that performance has since been viewed three and a half million times on YouTube, the clarity and sensuality of Orliński’s vocals only heightened by his grungy appearance.

He is not only an opera singer but also a champion break-dancer, and is a member of the breakdancing collective Skill Fantastikz Crew. “Breakdance allowed me to understand how my body works,” Orliński says in a video. “It taught me discipline and helped me to find the balance.”

Orliński has extended his appeal to younger audiences through social media: he is athletic and handsome with curly hair, fluent in English, and often posts daily on Instagram, where more than thirty-four thousand followers watch him narrate his travels.

Watch: https://www.classicfm.com/discover-music/watch-countertenor-jakub-jozef-orlinski-breakdance/

 

Acid Rain on the Long List

Media reported that a record 92 animated shorts have been submitted for the Best Animated Short Film category of the 2020 Academy Awards.

Polish animation is battling it out. The chances are good for “Acid Rain” by Tomasz Popakul, and “Portrait of Suzanne” by Izabela Plucińska. These films could gain nominations from the Academy. First-round voting by members of the Academy’s Short Films and Feature Animation Branch will take place in New York on October 26 and 27, and in Los Angeles on November 9 and 10. Online voting for the shortlist will take place between December 6-10. The 10-film shortlist is scheduled to be announced on December 16.

 

Germany and Poland

20th lAbirynT on the Border

On October, 20th edition of the New Art Festival lAbirynT was organized in Słubice and Frankfurt a/O on the Polish-German border. “If I were to define our Festival lAbiRynT, I’d be tempted to de-stereotype its perception by using words like: open, safe, inspiring, intriguing and positive. A warm welcome to all of you on a walk through the maze!,” Anna Panek-Kusz, one of the curators, wrote.

The New Art Festival lAbirynT is three days full of exhibitions (40 of them), performances (3), artistic movies and concerts, where new media, technology and experimental techniques play very special role to interact with the audience. This year not only artists from Poland and Germany were celebrated in Słubice and Frankfurt but also guests from the Czech Republic, Romania, USA or Japan.

Visit: http://www.labirynt.slubice.eu/

 

Polls & Trends

Elections Results

 

PiS                                       43,6%

Civic Coalition (KO)         27,4%

Left (SLD)                           12,6%

PSL-Polish Coalition        8,6%

Confederation                  6,8%

Independent Locals        0,8%

German Minority             0,17%

Liroy’s  Efficient               0,10%

Disappointed Pensioners             0,03%

Right                                                 0,01%

 

 

Poles and the Internet

GUS, October 2019

 

86% of Poles has access to the Internet

16% of Poles has no access to the Internet. They main reasons for that: no need.

 

Why Poles use the Internet?

 

Looking for goods and services                                               64%

Checking e-mails                                                                        61%

Using social media                                                                     50%

Searching information on health                                            48%

Using e-banking                                                                          44%

Uploading own content                                                            26%

Active contact with administration                                        24%

Searching for information posted by the administration   24%

Using travel sites                                                                        21%

E-gaming                                                                                      18%

Selling goods and services                                                       14%

Downloading programs (no games)                                      13%

 

About the author ____________________________________________

Miłosz Hodun

Expert at the Nowoczesna party. PhD, formerly a part-time teacher at Reykjavik University School of Law. His main areas of interest are comparative constitutional law and federalism. Board member of Projekt: Polska Association. Until September 2015, he worked as an expert within “Presidential Experts’ Programme” at the Chancellery of the President of the Republic of Poland. He is member of the Board of Directors of the European Liberal Forum.