PC Press Digest

Weekly Press Digest – November 27

Political Critique's weekly selection from the Eastern European press.

Michal Chmela’s selection

Last week, an unimportant but rather interesting debate took place in the country’s second largest city, Brno: two local parties, amateurish but elected Live Brno and openly fascist Proper People were supposed to have a public talk about social policy, the results being rather hilarious when PP’s leader showed up but stood down on account of “not being an expert on the issue” and his replacement expert confidently claiming that there is no such thing as issues with homelessness while being timidly supported from the back rows by bald, muscular meatheads occasionally shouting incomprehensible encouragements. The news is not that fascists are stupid, which entered the public knowledge roughly in the thirties, but rather that the low-income people pushed to the edge of the society – typically the fascists’ electorate – are more than willing blame those who are even worse off for their issues as opposed to supporting social policies that would help them all. C’est la society.

Speaking of fascists, a rather disgusting yearly event has reoccurred again when the Czech audience elected a Neo-Nazi band again. Basically everything I pointed out in last year’s response to this event still applies, although it appears that this year, everyone involved was a bit more prepared: the Nazi nitwits refused to show up, claiming they did not want to turn it into a political occasion (obvious excuse but good enough), the organizers realized that the band’s social network recruitment drive is essentially cheating (good enough if obvious) and decided to award them the same amount of votes they got last year (what) instead of just disqualifying them; and the actor who handed out the award came to the ceremony dressed and in-character as the Dalai Lama. Upon discovering the meathead minstrels did not deem it wise to receive the award in person, he offered to deliver it to a concert of theirs. In costume. He has not been heard from since.

And it really would not be a week without our beloved President, may he get eaten by a hungry bear, destroying a sizeable part of what little remains of our country’s credibility abroad. His order-taking trip to Russia was a huge success, managing to effectively dismantle months and years of diplomatic work by reassuring a certain bald dictator that yeah, we are totally pals, sanctions will not hold and here are some contracts. In return, he got to star in an extremely silly PR stunt where a Russian state news portal just happened to publish an article about how the occupation of Czechoslovakia in 1968 was in fact liberation and Zeman got to take credit for them withdrawing it with a lot of pomp and replacing it with a piece that, of all things, celebrates Zeman. Turns out Russia realizes the Presidential elections are upon us in two months and the current idiot on the throne is a very useful idiot indeed.

Michal Chmela is a translator and journalist.


Anna Azarova’s selection

So, the “Soros Plan” surveys had started to be sent back – according to the government, more than 1,7 million of them. Co-chair of the green LMP party Ákos Hadházy wanted to see if that’s true, and after a month of trying, he and LMP’s PM candidate Bernadett Szél were finally allowed to visit the offices where the responses are counted and registered on Thursday (only the official government photographer was allowed to accompany them). Hadházy claims that he’s 99% sure that the government is lying. One employee working at these offices first claimed that they’re not allowed to show him the registers, then they got angry and claimed the registers don’t exist. At another office, the department head admitted that only 400K letters had been sent back by mid-November. Instead of arguing with him, the government simply threatened Hadházy with a lawsuit on Saturday: apparently, by revealing that people aren’t sending back the so-called national consultations, LMP is “denying” Hungarians their right to express their opinion on the “resettlement plan.”

In the Fidesz-led city if Debrecen, charity organisations were so far exempted from paying taxes on use of public spaces – no more of that, according to a new proposal. Roughly 10 cents per square meter per day, and announce it 30 days in advance if you want to organise a soup kitchen. In the city of Szeged, the local LGBT organisation was kicked out from a community center they had been using, because, apparently, they are being “political,” which is forbidden for human rights advocacy groups.

Good news at the end: the decent but conservative news site MNO ran an article with “gender” in the title – in a good way! Apropos of the international day, the head of Hungary’s main organisation against gendered violence broke it down for the conservative readers – what domestic violence is, who this “gender” even is, and why “it” does not want to destroy families. If even the conservatives are realising this now, what am I supposed to do with my Gender Studies degree?

Anna Azarova is a graduate student in Budapest and a freelance translator.


Roman Broszkowski’s selection

Surprise! PiS kept us on our toes only to fall right on our faces. Instead of a week of governmental turmoil, the last fourteen days have passed by pretty calmly. The proposed reshuffle has been postponed until December 11th which could mean quite a few different things. Let’s theorize!

The party is deeply divided and drastic change is needed immediately. What initially started as simply shoring up electorability before local elections has turned into a crucial surgery of the Law and Justice Party. Instead of the removal of only the least popular officials, picture a purge of the insufficiently loyal and effective. Kaczynski is increasingly distressed by the growing fractures in his camp and has decided to wrench the wheel from his deputy, Beata Szydło. This is not ideal as he must first overcome a terrible public perception. So he launches a media campaign, slowly building his praises until it becomes inevitable that he should be Poland’s Prime Minister. The die has been cast, Szydło knows her time is up and has begun a (digital) “Thank You” tour. Further down the food chain, Lech’s loyalists sharpen their knives. Defense Minister Antoni Marcierewicz is going to be vindicated and now openly helped in his fight against President Duda’s moderation. This is the only way for Law and Justice to move forward: with Kaczynski at the helm, aggressively suppressing internal dissent.

The polls keep rising and why tinker with what’s working? Perhaps drastic change might rock the boat too much. The stage has been set and the proper people threatened so the party should just ease into the future! Kaczynski is comfortable with his current role as the unelected center of government and after some unpopular rogues are purged, those that are left will fall into line. Now is the time to remove those who are a little too unhinged and reward new initiates. Bring some fresh blood into the pool. Witold Waszczykowski is on his way out and so to will the unnecessary divisions he has caused. The reshuffle just took longer to figure out than expected and will just be a way to consolidate power.

Just by the number of links, you can probably tell which theory is more realistic. However this slow coup is full of twists and turns! Stay tuned to see what happens next week when Vladimir Putin enters the Polish presidential race!

Roman Broszkowski is an undergraduate International Politics student from New Jersey. His area of study is Eastern Europe and the Middle East.



Featured photo by Lovro Rumiha via Flickr.