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Monday, December 4, 2023

Mobilization, willingness and uncertainty. Pre-election realities of the Polish diaspora. “People talk about it a lot.”

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Readiness – there is. At least on the voting side. The Polish community broke all records to take part in Sunday’s elections. She is full of verve and enthusiasm. Are state institutions ready? According to Poles living outside their homeland, one cannot be sure of this. They are afraid that their votes will be counted because of the Polish law.

Even going on a late autumn holiday is not the time for excuses. Polish diaspora activists encourage as much as they can. After viewing the pyramids, or, for example, before visiting the museum, it is worth adding one more attraction. It is worth taking part in the elections.

– Informing travel agencies that could, for example, organize such trips during your stay in Cairo or Hurghada, just to go to the polling station and vote – says Monika Tomaszewska, a member of the electoral commission in Cairo.

The Polish community will vote in embassies, consulates, Polish schools and cultural centers. A total of 417 committees around the world. By far the most of them will be created in Great Britain – as many as 77. At the last minute, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs decided to expand the list of districts and created additional commissions in Germany, Spain and the Netherlands. – People talk a lot about it, but above all, they keep their fingers crossed for us that we will be able to count them, that these votes will not be lost, that it is so important. We feel this huge support – says Ewa Wasińska, coordinator of the Polonia Votes campaign in the Netherlands.

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The time pressure will be enormous, because within 24 hours the committees must count both the votes cast in the parliamentary elections and in the referendum. You can no longer join precincts, but this does not mean that you know exactly how many people in a given committee will vote. It is impossible to predict how many voters will show up with a certificate entitling them to vote at any given location. – We expect about 1,000, 1,500 people. We don’t know what it will be like, because there are a lot of tourists in Dubai, so it’s hard to say whether they will vote here or not, so this number may be a little higher – says Agnieszka Kłos-Dubaj, resident and representative of the Polish community in Dubai.

Zgorzelski: the wind of change is blowingTVN24

Foreign mobilization

People from various backgrounds and reasons get involved in pro-turnout campaigns and organizing the work of electoral commissions. Most of them are experienced activists and Polish diaspora activists. However, it also happens that someone has not planned to stay abroad at all. – I’m stuck here preparing adoption papers for a certain dog. Since I am already here and will be here for the next three or four months, I decided to get involved as a citizen, says Monika Tomaszewska, a member of the electoral commission in Cairo.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs agreed to the appeals of the Polish community and appointed as many as one hundred more committees than in the previous parliamentary elections. Despite this, many voters were concerned whether their votes would be wasted. – I have colleagues who decided to go to Poland and made this decision earlier, when there was great uncertainty as to what our rights would be and how it would be organized. I thought about it myself, says Joanna Lasserre, president of the French Association for the Defense of Democracy in Poland.

Those who vote in the country have it much easier if they vote at their place of residence; they do not need any certificates, only an ID card on election day. For the Polish community, for tourists, for those who went abroad on business, voting is an effort. – I live in the state of Oaxaca in the south of Mexico, so I will have to travel by plane for an hour and a half. So that we can be there a few days in advance and prepare to participate in the committee’s work. People want to make this effort and cast their votes and sometimes travel by plane or several hours by car – says Piotr Piwowarczuk, a Polish activist from Mexico. Those who have to travel have to pay for fuel, plane tickets and, in the case of a very long journey, even hotel fees. They bear these costs just like that. Out of a sense of civic duty.

Facts about the World TVN24 BiS

Main photo source: Facts about the World TVN24 BiS

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