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Parliamentary elections 2023. Debate on government television – some questions longer than the time to answer

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On Monday evening, an election debate was held on government television. Many observers, as well as politicians themselves, draw attention to the length of the questions asked during it. Some of them took more than a minute to read, which means it took more time than each participant had to answer. We present the full text of the six questions and the exact time when they were asked.

Read the coverage of Monday’s election events

The Prime Minister participated in the election debate on state television Mateusz Morawiecki (PiS), Donald Tusk (KO), Szymon Hołownia from the Third Way, Joanna Scheuring-Wielgus from the Left, Krzysztof Bosak from Confederation and Krzysztof Maj from Nonpartisan Local Government. The debate included questions about migration, retirement age, social benefits, privatization, security and unemployment.

Almost every question juxtaposes two visions of the functioning of the state – the opposition and the currently ruling party. Terms such as “two concepts” often appeared in these questions. Additionally, each question was asked a total of two times – at the beginning of each round of questions, and then they were read out again in the middle of that round, i.e. after the statements of three representatives of electoral committees.

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After the debate. Tusk: back to work tomorrow. Morawiecki: let’s do our best

The editors of “Press” magazine calculated how long it took to ask each question.


First question – about migration – one minute and 11 seconds

The first question in the debate concerned migration and the EU migration package.

While accompanying elections referendum, Poles will be able to decide on the future of the border barrier that protects the Republic of Poland against the influx of immigrants organized by Russia and Belarus. How do you also assess the European Migration Pact in this context, which provides for a mechanism for forced admission by EU countries, including Poland, of a currently undefined number of immigrants or a mandatory solidarity fee? The pact provides for the possibility of discretionary and temporary exemptions from the obligation to accept immigrants. This decision would be made by her European Union, not Member States, for example Poland. Representatives of the European Commission have said many times that in the matter of immigration, although relocation is not obligatory, solidarity is obligatory, and countries that do not want to accept immigrants will have to pay for not accepting them. Two concepts clashed in Poland on this matter. One is the consent to relocation expressed in the past during the government of the Civic Platform-PSL in the previous version of this agreement. The second one is currently presented by the ruling camp, which rejects bringing illegal immigrants to Poland by decision of the European Union. Which of these concepts do you intend to implement in the next term of office?

The second question – about the retirement age – 47 seconds

The retirement age is one of the key issues in the Polish political dispute. Poles will also decide on this in a referendum on election day. There are two views on this matter in our country. The first assumes a compulsory increase in the retirement age, i.e. it refers to the concept of linking the retirement age in Europe with the demographic situation, something that the most important German politicians have urged Poland to do in the past. The decision to increase the retirement age was made in Poland during the government of the Civic Platform and the Polish People’s Party. The second concept represented by the government assumes leaving the retirement age at the current, reduced level with additional opportunities, such as seniority pensions or bonuses for longer presence on the labor market. What is the position of your committee on this matter in the perspective of the next term of office of the Sejm?

Third question – about social benefits – 40 seconds

Polish political groups look at social policy in two ways. The ruling camp has introduced 500 plus in Poland, which is to be transformed into 800 plus on January 1, and a number of other solutions, including the 13th and 14th pension. These programs are intended to reduce poverty and support families with children. Critics of these solutions, in turn, believe that social benefits cause too much burden, that there is no money to continue them, and the state should give up financing them, introduce income thresholds for those receiving the funds or replace PLN 500 and PLN 800 plus with tax breaks. What is the view of your committees on maintaining social programs in the next term of office of the Sejm?

Fourth question – about privatization – one minute and 13 seconds

In 2014, the Sejm received a request from three deputies of the parties running in the next elections, including the Civic Platform, the Democratic Left Alliance and the Polish People’s Party, to amend the constitution, which included a gateway to the privatization of the State Forests by adding an article stating that “forests owned by the Treasury States are not subject to ownership transformations except in cases specified in the law. The applicants were five votes short of introducing this change. In 2015, another bill passed through the Sejm with the support of PO, PSL and SLD, which stated that “forests owned by the State Treasury may be sold only in cases specified in the act in order to maintain permanently sustainable forest management or to achieve a public purpose.” This bill was vetoed by President Andrzej Duda in October 2015. This issue is causing political dispute in Poland. On the one hand, further attempts to create a gateway to the sale of forests, pushed by the coalition of PO, PSL and the Left in subsequent draft laws, and on the other, opposition to privatization presented by the ruling party. Privatization is one of the topics of the upcoming referendum. What will be the position of your parties on this issue in the upcoming term of office of the Sejm?

Fifth question – about safety – 59 seconds

When it comes to defending the Republic of Poland, politicians present two opposing ideas. One was implemented during the government of the Civic Platform-PSL coalition. It assumed, in the event of an attack from the East, delaying the enemy’s offensive operations, basing Poland’s defense on the strategic frontier on the Vistula line and possible subsequent recovery of the occupied territory with the help of allies. When these plans were created, the size of the army was limited – I wonder if you know exactly how many such units of the Polish army were liquidated at that time. The opposite concept, implemented today by those in power, assumes the defense of the entire territory of Poland, the construction of a 300,000-strong Polish army armed with the most modern equipment, including, among others, half a thousand HIMARS rocket artillery sets, Abrams tanks and Apache helicopters. Which of the concepts of defense of the Republic of Poland do you see as your political idea that is closer to the state in the upcoming term of office of the Sejm?

Sixth question – about unemployment – 45 seconds

The way to fight unemployment is also the subject of heated disputes in the current campaign. Let us recall that the Warsaw court determined that during the rule of the PO-PSL coalition it was not 15 percent, but 14.4 percent. While fighting inflation, two contradictory views were presented. One assumed suppression of inflation at the expense of slowing down the economy and, consequently, increasing unemployment. The second one, chosen by the ruling option, assumed protection of jobs and employee income at the expense of a slower reduction in inflation. For the record, let us recall that according to Eurostat data, unemployment currently stands at 2.8 percent in August and is one of the lowest in Europe. What tools do you intend to use in the upcoming term of office of the Sejm to keep the unemployment rate low or to further reduce it?

Mucha: each of these questions had a thesis, some of them had a scandalous thesis

The questions asked during the debate were commented on by the MPs in “Kropka nad i” on TVN24.

– We are saying that these questions were longer than the answers, but we are not saying that they were questions with a thesis – noted Joanna Mucha. – In each of these questions there was a thesis, in some of them there was a scandalous thesis, because, for example, there was a thesis saying that what the Monetary Policy Council should have done was done in the government, so it is absolutely scandalous, what happened there happened – she recalled.

– These were questions that did not concern what Poles live like: inflation, health care, health care, the issue of abortion, the issue of women’s safety and so on, only questions that were convenient for the government and to which I am deeply convinced, Mateusz Morawiecki had carefully prepared answers , because I had the impression that he was simply reciting them from memory – she admitted.

Mucha recalled in the interview that the questions at the debate “lasted longer than a minute.” – They were repeated twice so that public television viewers were reminded of the false theses contained in these questions – she said.

– The most important thing is that this thesis was absolutely unambiguous in positioning the opposition and the government. It was a thesis that stuck to the fact that those in power are obviously making the best policy in the world, she added.

Mucha: it was a mock debate, I had the impression that Morawiecki was reciting these answers from memoryTVN24

Nowacka: These were not questions, these were PiS theses

Barbara Nowacka assessed that “the questions that were asked were not questions.” – They were PiS theses, their description of reality. What they said about forests and nature are people who cut down forests on a massive scale. When people go to the forest today, they are terrified because there has never been any logging on such a scale, she said.

The MP drew attention to questions that were not raised in the debate. – Health is very important, the issue of health, the issue of access to housing. After all, they canceled the Mieszkanie Plus program completely. (Topic – ed.) transport exclusion, during their times PKS connections disappeared and there are fewer railway connections – she mentioned. – And they ask about a problem that they think is convenient for them, which is false – she continued.

Nowacka: it was a fake debate, it was not a kind of civilized debate at all

Nowacka: it was a fake debate, it was not a kind of civilized debate at allTVN24

Main photo source: TVN24

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