From Poland With Love – August

Topic of the Month

Stop the Nonsense

Małgorzata Szutowicz, best known as Margot, who is a non-binary anarchist activist and one of the founders of the Stop Bzdurom (Stop the Nonsense) collective, was put in pre-trial detention for two months for acts of civil disobedience, including using a knife to cut the tires of a van that drives around broadcasting anti-LGBT messages, including a claim that “homosexuals are preparing society to accept pedophilia.” Such a detention is normally used in cases of serious crimes and dangerous criminals.

Currently Szutowicz is facing one more charge, of hanging a rainbow flag on a Jesus monument belonging to a church downtown Warsaw. Szutowicz’s lawyer said she could face up to two years in prison for offending people’s religious feelings “by outraging in public an object of religious worship”, as well as a fine or community service for the second crime of profaning a monument.

According to witnesses, the activist was forced to endure “transphobic comments and jokes” during her arrest. She was also set to be detained in a male facility and denied access to a lawyer. She has been publicly misgendered by the police and PiS politicians.

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From Poland With Love – July

Topic of the Month

5 More Years with Duda

Andrzej Duda has won the Polish presidential election by a wafer-thin margin. He narrowly beat Warsaw mayor Rafal Trzaskowski with 51,2% of the vote. Both candidates collected over 10 million of the votes, something that had been done only by Lech Wałęsa before. Turnout in the second round of the election was reportedly 68,2%, the highest of any presidential poll since the start of free elections in post-communist Poland.

Duda’s slim victory was very disappointing for the governing Law and Justice (PiS) party. Bearing in mind all the support the incumbent president got from the government, state television station TVP, state agencies and state owned companies, Jarosław Kaczyński expected a clearer victory and a green light for a series of new radical reforms. However, he received a clear signal that the support for his ideas is narrower that the power he actually has in Poland.

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Mr. Ziobro and “Gender Gibberish”

Guest contribution by Milosz Hodún

Justice minister Zbigniew Ziobro has vowed to submit a motion aimed at withdrawing Poland from the Istanbul Convention, the Council of Europe´s Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence. He said the Convention contains harmful, ideological elements. He also stressed that Poland is doing just fine with protection of women rights and prevention of domestic violence without the Convention. Ziobro’s deputy Marcin Romanowski added that Poland should drop out of the Istanbul Convention as soon as possible, calling the treaty “gender gibberish.”

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Run-Off Vote: State Restructuring in Poland Continues

Re-election of national conservative President Andrzej Duda reveals the weakness of the opposition

Strong President in Poland

The Polish President is not only a ceremonial representative of the country. He is commander-in-chief of the armed forces and can veto legislative decisions without providing reasons. In order to pass laws against his veto , a 3/5 majority in parliament (Sejm) is required – and such a majority does not currently exist in Poland. To make matters more complicated for the PiS, in 2019 it lost the majority in the Senate, which can refer back and thus delay resolutions of the Sejm. Thus, in order to implement its national conservative course, the PiS needed its own man in the presidential palace.

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From Poland With Love – June

Topic of the Month

Runoff!

The incumbent Andrzej Duda won the first round of the presidential election but must still go into a runoff vote. On July 12th, he will face Rafał Trzaskowski, mayor of Warsaw. The election was the first presidential vote to be held in the European Union since the pandemic hit.

It was the longest and the most peculiar campaign in Polish short democratic history, after 1990. Not only the elections were postponed from May 10th to June 28th due to the pandemic, but also new candidates appeared. The most important of the newcomers was of course Rafał Trzaskowski who replaced Małgorzata Kidawa-Błońska as the Civic Coalition candidate after her unsuccessful campaign marked with appeals for boycott of the elections (read more in the previous issue).

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Presidential Election in Poland: Trzaskowski – Liberal Alternative to Duda

The first round of the presidential elections in Poland on Sunday confirmed what the opinion polls in recent weeks had predicted: firstly, although the incumbent President Andrzej Duda, candidate of the ruling national conservative party “Law and Justice” (PiS), received the largest share of the votes cast (43.7 %), it was clearly not enough for re-election in the first round. Second, his challenger for the run-off vote will be the liberal Warsaw Mayor Rafał Trzaskowski, candidate of the largest opposition alliance “Civic Coalition” (KO). According to current polls, the second round will be extremely close.

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