Parliamentary elections in Poland are approaching, and Law and Justice (PiS), the ruling party is deploying all possible means to win for the third time – ironically with tactics that have nothing to do with law or justice.
Last time I voted, it was from abroad. And I had a funny feeling my vote wouldn’t matter. Not because as people say “I am one among millions of other voters,” but because I know what PiS is capable of. And this includes cheating on elections.
Marek Zagrobelny, a former PiS activist published a book revealing the utopia he once believed in. He admitted having participated along with other commission members, in the stuffing of empty ballots with falsified signatures as votes for the PiS party for over 12 years. “This was done discreetly,” he says.
But I believe this is only the tip of the iceberg. PiS is well known for controversies regarding media freedom, judicial independence and civil liberties – the perfect trifecta to exploit any democratic institution.
One should admit: PiS is far more organized than their opposition to the disadvantage of those who value European values, inclusiveness, and who are sick of being seen as the “bad guys” or “the non-complying rebels”. Organized to keep power and progressively demolish the country, my country.
I am sick of PiS’s lies, and fake promises. When I say that the ruling party does everything to win the upcoming election, I mean it. Just take a look at the nationalization of the biggest Polish broadcaster: TVP, which now functions as a tool to actively spread lies, and sway the audiences to align with carefully crafted propaganda. In Poland, opposition candidates do not participate in televised debates, as those are not impartial – and they would not be fairly represented by the broadcaster.
TVP views are one sided – and sometimes may come across as sarcastic with headlines such as “Poland’s success sparks jealousy in Europe” or “Poland as the land of freedom and tolerance”. Surely, there is so much to envy about Poland: be it our 18% inflation, racist and homophobic government, restricted reproductive rights, rampant corruption… Sounds lovely, doesn’t it?
But again, our nationalized television is here to assure you it is always someone else’s fault. It would be hilarious to count the number of times they accused Donald Tusk, current leader of Civic Platform, the largest opposition party and former president of European Council, of something. “It’s all Tusk’s fault!” is a sentence that went viral and became a meme, along with video edits of the number of times it was employed. As far as I am concerned, Donald Tusk has not been ruling the country for a long time now.
Without alternative views on politics – run by a corrupt media machine embellishing politicians who finance it – PiS’s quasi-full control on media is a dark spot for our democracy. And the upcoming election will definitely suffer its consequences.
PiS is also known for implementing controversial laws and breaching the Constitution as it pleases, just to pursue power.
For these elections, I will actually have to strategically choose where I would like to vote from. Why is that? Because my government illegally made amendments to the Electoral Code that were successfully adopted by Sejm – the lower house of parliament.
These include the increased concentration of precinct electoral commissions in countryside villages – which are predominantly conservative, and the organization of transport for people with disabilities and over 60 years of age to polling stations – the main PiS voting demographic.
Jarosław Kaczyński, the PiS party leader, particularly dislikes bigger cities like Warsaw. Surprisingly, the metropolitan younger and more educated electorate does not like him either, which does not particularly suit his plans. With such an electoral reform however, PiS political goals can be reached with illegal gerrymandering strategies, the artificial retracing of precinct borders, to PiS’s advantage.
This is only if the elections will take place at all, however. There are already hints that the government might use a ‘state of emergency’ because of the war in Ukraine to postpone elections. An incredibly convenient excuse.
Finally, Kaczyński recently gave a speech about Polish expats who criticize Poland from abroad, and qualified them as “the worst kind of Poles.” Today, I loudly say: I am and will be this ‘worst kind of Pole’ for as long as it takes to fight back against those who want to ruin democracy in my country.