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“In Poland And Elsewhere, The Elites Against the People”

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By Olivier Bault.

It was the fourth debate of the European Parliament on Wednesday on the situation of democracy and the rule of law in Poland, but this time in front of a largely empty assembly without the vote of resolution. One must believe that the subject is weary, and to summarize the absurdity of these debates concerning one of the countries of the EU where democracy is doing well, especially in terms of the plurality of media and freedom of expression. Let us simply quote the words of a Polish MP in this debate: “I look around and see people murdered in the street, I see terrorists shooting at passers-by, I see them raping women, and I see them running into the crowd with a truck. Is it Poland? No, it’s France, Sweden, Germany, … “

It is a failure, therefore, for this Polish opposition which, having lost the power in October 2015 following free elections, appeals to its EU friends of the left and of the false right in order to attack the conservative government of its country. This time it is a bill on demonstrations that provided the justification for the few liberal and far left deputies not yet tired of the topic to worry about Polish democracy. The incriminated bill aims to prohibit the organization of a demonstration and its counter-demonstration at the same time and in the same place. What could be more normal in a democracy than to give everyone the opportunity to express themselves peacefully and safely in the street?

But the Polish opposition, more precisely, the one that lost the power last autumn, goes further. In early December, the “Defense Committee for Democracy” (KOD) with several signatories of the two Liberal parties which are the most outrageous in their opposition to the PiS, called to civic disobedience. The appeal has even be disavowed by the post-communist left. But this liberal right which, as the PiS, claims to be the heir of the Solidarity trade union, is now marching in the streets to defend the pensions of the former members of the political police of the communist regime, as the PiS wants to reduce their very advantageous pensions compared to the pensions of those who were in the opposition in the 1980s and lost years of contributions because they were in prison or were denied the right to work. Repairing this profound injustice was one of the promises of the PiS. It should also be pointed out to the foreign readers that Lech Walesa, who is now known for sure that he had a past of informer at the service of the Communists, is thoroughly supporting this “total” opposition to this government, despite the free elections that led it to power.

“Total opposition” is the qualifier which this part of the Polish opposition gives itself, and which closely resembles the total opposition against Viktor Orbán in Hungary, which also regularly invokes the intervention of Brussels, and also nowadays to the Democratic opposition in the USA which itself finds it very difficult to accept the result of the last elections. Wherever the liberal-left elites lose power, they are challenging democracy on the pretext of defending it against the “populists.”

Published originally in Présent.
Translated from French by the Visegrád Post.