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.
Eastern European populism differs from that in the West in important ways, owing to the region’s weak liberal tradition, which translates into ineffective checks and balances on government and shallow support for institutions such as freedom of expression and independent courts. Sławomir Sierakowski, the founder of the Krytyka Polityczna movement, explains.
Only in Europe’s post-communist east do populists routinely beat traditional parties in elections. Of 15 Eastern European countries, populist parties currently hold power in seven, belong to the ruling coalition in two more, and are the main opposition force in three.
A new Polish law criminalizes blaming Poles for any wrongdoing against other nations.
The choice of Mateusz Morawiecki to lead Poland’s Law and Justice (PiS) government is widely believed to reflect the PiS’s desire to endear itself to investors and the European Union. In fact, Morawiecki, like his predecessor, was chosen for a very different reason: to facilitate PiS leader Jarosław Kaczyński’s consolidation of power.
The European Union has been shaken by Brexit, Donald Trump’s election in the United States, and now political uncertainty in Germany. But the future of the EU is also being written in Poland, Hungary, Ukraine, and Russia, with profound implications for democratic institutions and regional security.
I believe the Polish people should heed the message that Piotr conveyed in his letter.