A former Foreign Minister has accused Poland’s ruling party chairman of turning the country into a Catholic dictatorship.
– “Wants to create a Catholic state of the Polish nation”
Law and Justice (PiS) party chairman Jarosław Kaczyński “wants to create a Catholic state of the Polish nation. His vision is that of Salazar, or rather Franco, but adding strong support from the US”, Radek Sikorski, Minister of Foreign Affairs between 2007 and 2014, told EUObserver in an interview published May 8.
António Salazar and Francisco Franco were far-right authoritarian leaders who ruled Portugal and Spain respectively from the 1930s to the 1970s.
“He [Kaczyński] thinks he’s creating Bavaria [a distinctly Catholic region in Germany] – strong traditions and a modern economy, but, actually, what might come out of this is Franco’s Spain”, denounced Sikorski.
The now-Member of the European Parliament with the Polish opposition party Civic Platform laid the blame for enabling Kaczyński’s authoritanism squarely at the feet of the country’s “traditionalist and provincial” Catholic Church.
– Botched presidential postal vote “never had a chance to be democratic”
After months of tension in the country and with the EU due to the PiS party’s hardline stances on judicial reform, migration, climate and xenophobia and homophobia, the latest controversy to hit Poland has been the botched presidential elections due to take place this weekend but hampered by the coronavirus pandemic.
The PiS had announced plans for an all-postal vote Sunday May 10 to avoid the risk of contagion, but immediately faced sharp criticism for allegedly riding roughshod with that proposal over constitutional and democratic guarantees.
Despite warnings from the Polish Electoral Commission and postal service that the ballot can’t go ahead on such short notice, Sunday’s vote has not yet been officially and completely cancelled.
Instead, thanks to the pressure of PiS junior coalition partner the Agreement (Porozumienie) party, the phantom election is expected to be voided by the Polish Supreme Court and new elections called “as soon as possible”, according to a statement from PiS and Porozumienie.
Former Foreign Minister Sikorski referred to the mess of the presidential vote and accused PiS chairman Kaczyński of wanting to “ram through the election” to ensure a victory for PiS-loyalist and incumbent Andrzej Duda.
“This election never had a chance to be democratic”, Sikorski denounced, adding that the way the postponement of the vote itself had been handled showed the lack of democracy in Kaczyński’s “Catholic state of the Polish nation”.
“Under the law, we’re still holding an election on Sunday and tomorrow will be the start of the pre-election ‘quiet period’, when people like me can’t speak to press. Afterwards, the Supreme Court is meant to invalidate the election, because it didn’t happen… it’s a complete shambles”, Sikorski decried.
– Poland no longer a “consolidated democracy”: US NGO
How far Poland has slipped in its politics under PiS dominance was revealed May 6 in a new installment of the US NGO Freedom House’s annual Nations in Transit report, which tracks the progress of democracy in 29 former communist states.
According to Freedom House, Poland is no longer ranked in the highest category of “consolidated democracy”, but has instead slipped to the status of a “semi-consolidated democracy”.
Poland thereby joins Hungary as only the second EU country among the nations surveyed by Freedom House to lose the status of full democracy.
Thanks to the ultraconservative and ultranationalist drift of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, Hungary fell from the top democracy rating five years ago, and has now fallen so far from international standards that Freedom House no longer classifies it as a democracy at all.