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UK historian argues Poland's democracy is 'under threat'

PR dla Zagranicy
Nick Hodge 08.01.2016 12:52
Historian Timothy Garton Ash has argued in an opinion piece in UK daily The Guardian that Poland's recently elected Law and Justice party has put democracy in the country at risk.
The Sejm, the lower house of Polish parliament. Photo: Flickr.com/KPRMThe Sejm, the lower house of Polish parliament. Photo: Flickr.com/KPRM

The historian and journalist, who was one of the founders of Oxford University's Programme on Modern Poland, has stated that the voices of all allied democracies, in Europe and across the Atlantic, must be raised to express their concern about a turn with grave implications for the whole democratic west.”

Garton Ash described Law and Justice's actions since being elected on 25 October 2015 as “a political blitzkrieg”, arguing that “basic pillars of its still youthful liberal democracy, such as the constitutional court , public service broadcasters and a professional civil service, are suddenly under threat.”

He also claimed that President Andrzej Duda, formerly a member of Law and Justice, “is behaving like the glove puppet” of party leader Jarosław Kaczyński.

Poland's two largest opposition parties, the centrist Civic Platform and Nowoczesna, have backed a recent wave of public demonstrations against the socially conservative Law and Justice's reforms.

Not all opposition leaders are united in their criticism of Law and Justice. Leszek Miller, who served as prime minister from 2001-2004 during the rule of the Democratic Left Alliance, claimed on Tuesday that Western media outlets have displayed “hysteria” in their coverage of Polish issues since Law and Justice came to power.

Miller, a former member of Poland's pre-1989 communist party, likewise said that “the blame should be divided,” regarding Law and Justice's reform of the constitutional court, arguing that both Civic Platform and Law and Justice had broken the constitution in their rush to appoint new judges, the former prior to and the latter following the 25 October general election.

Meanwhile, the European Commission is set to hold a debate on the rule of law in Poland on 13 January, in reaction to Law and Justice's ongoing reforms of public media outlets. (nh)

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