What is really happening in Poland?
By ECR Group
Statement by the Law and Justice (PiS) delegation of the ECR Group in advance of the debate on the situation in Poland in the European Parliament.
In 2015, a democratic general election took place in Poland, resulting in a change of power.
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Mr Andrzej Duda won the office of President of Poland and the united right under the leadership of its largest party, namely the Law and Justice Party (PiS), won an absolute majority in Parliament.
The centre-liberal coalition of the Civic Platform (PO) and the Polish People’s Party (PSL), which had been in power for 8 years, went into opposition. Left wing parties failed to obtain the required minimum percentage threshold of the vote, so they are not represented in Parliament.
The results of the elections have shown that the Polish people have critically judged the policy of the previous government, including its deficit of guarantees for the freedom of speech.
Under the rule of that government there were cases of penal repression against persons expressing criticism of the government of the time on the internet, at sports events or during anti-government demonstrations.
Surveillance and even the repression of journalists gave cause for serious concern. Yet, these facts did not attract the attention of or give rise to any reaction from European Institutions at the time.
Just before the elections the outgoing incumbent coalition introduced changes in the Constitutional Court leading to the nomination of its own candidates to all but one of the existing positions of judges at that Court. This was done in violation of the Constitution, as subsequently reaffirmed by the Constitutional Court itself.
The newly elected parliament was therefore obliged to take the necessary remedial action. The controversy concerning the Constitutional Court, which was a consequence of the unconstitutional actions of the previous government, is practically over.
The composition of the Constitutional Court is now complete with the majority of its judges – 9 out of 15 – having been recommended to their positions by the present opposition.
The Law and Justice (PiS) government formed following the elections has undertaken important reforms expected by the Polish people, concerning the taxation system, family support benefits, education, health care, and the judiciary.
These reforms are in line with the principles and rules of the Polish Constitution, fully respecting European values.
Poland has now a stable majority government. The opposition is represented in the Parliament’s governing bodies, with the leader of the opposition presiding over the Foreign Affairs Committee.
Poland is a decentralised state, with extensively developed regional and local self-governing bodies. In 15 out of 16 regions and in most of the major Polish cities, local self government is controlled by the Civic Platform (PO), which is in opposition only in Parliament.
Freedom of expression
Freedom of expression is respected. Anti-government demonstrations take place in Poland without any impediment or repression. There is complete freedom of the press, a major part of which is owned by foreign and especially German media corporations.
There is also complete freedom of communication on the internet. There is no censorship whatsoever. Any blocking of information about important events, such as those that took place recently in Germany with regards to the events in Cologne and other German cities, is inconceivable in Poland.
Poland today is a safe country. There are no acts of collective assault on sexual, racial or any other grounds. New year festivities and other popular events taking place in Poland are enjoyed in peace, without hindrance, disturbance or acts of aggression.
The situation is clearly much better in this regard than in many other European Union countries, where unfortunately acts of terror, collective aggression or even racist and sexual assaults do take place. Poland is not the scene of any such events.
In Poland the rights of women are respected, so they are not exposed to the threat of being assaulted in the streets. No one confronts them with degrading demands not to provoke potential aggressors by their clothing or behaviour.
The authorities do not give women humiliating advice not to venture away from home alone and to stay in groups when moving around in public, as has been suggested to women by the authorities in Germany.
Poland is a stable, democratic member state of the European Union, respecting European values, while shaping its internal legal order in a sovereign manner, in accordance with the democratically expressed will of its people.
Poland, as one of the largest countries in the European Union, contributes its significant part to the development and security of Europe.