Brexit and Trump Force Poles to Shelve Suspicions of Germany
The first thing Poland’s Law and Justice party did when it returned to power a year ago was pick a fight with Germany.
Jarosław Kaczyński’s national-conservative party, which controls both the presidency and parliament, has yet to forgive Germany for what it did to Poland seventy years ago.
When Martin Schulz, then president of the European Parliament, accused the Poles of hypocrisy for expecting European solidarity in the face of Russian threats but refusing to help the rest of Europe cope with a refugee crisis, Mariusz Błaszczak, the interior minister, felt it necessary to invoke World War II. He called Schulz’ comments “another example of German arrogance” and pointed out, “We are talking in Warsaw. Warsaw was destroyed by the Germans.”
Now the prospect of Schulz coming to power in Berlin has Błaszczak’s party scrambling to repair Polish relations with his rival, Angela Merkel. Read more
Poland’s Law and Justice Party Finally Went Too Far
Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party backed away from controversial press reforms on Tuesday after several nights of street demonstrations in the capital Warsaw.
The concession is a rare victory for the liberal-minded opposition, which has otherwise been unable to stop Law and Justice from reversing the last twenty years of Poland’s democratization and liberalization. Read more
Poland Could Become More Difficult for Rest of Europe
Poland’s conservative Law and Justice party is expected to return to power this weekend after eight years of liberal Civic Platform rule. The right’s populist economic policies and assertive foreign policy are almost certain to cause some alarm in Berlin and Brussels.
Law and Justice promises to raise public spending, protect pensions and introduce a new tax on banks. None of its signature economic policies would be particularly popular in the rest of the European Union where German-inspired fiscal consolidation and liberal economic reform are now the norm.
Strategically, too, a Law and Justice-led Poland would likely distance itself from its western neighbor.
Politico reports that the Civic Platform — which is most popular in the western areas of Poland that used to be German — has cultivated close relations with Western Europe. The conservatives, on the other hand, believe that if Poland can become the main player in Central and Eastern Europe, it will have a stronger hand in its dealings with the rest of the European Union.
The political news website cautions against reading too much into the differences between the two major parties:
Warsaw will still defend the use of coal, resist accepting migrants, be suspicious of Russia and the euro and keen to rely on NATO and the United States for its security.
But if the past is any indication, the tone of Polish government could become very different. Read more