Foreign media comment on the results of the parliamentary elections in Poland. The New York Times published a text by Andrew Higgins, who, while reporting on the elections, drew attention to the difficulties that the democratic opposition may face.
Covering the elections to the Sejm and Senate, The New York Times journalist Andrew Higgins writes in the American newspaper that after 99 percent of the votes have been counted, “Poland is on the threshold of what many consider to be the most significant change of power since voters rejected communism in the country’s first partially free elections in 1989.
As he adds, “the most important question” is not only whether the opposition will be able to form a government, “but also, if it manages to take power, whether it will be able to exercise it in a system in which public broadcasters, the Constitutional Tribunal, the judiciary in general , the central bank, the national prosecutor’s office and other state bodies have been staffed with people loyal to Law and Justice, who in many cases cannot be easily removed.
Elections in Poland. “NYT” about post-election scenarios
– This is a really important question: how to weaken illiberal democracy – Wojciech Przybylski, editor-in-chief of “Visegrad Insight”, Res Publica Foundation, told Higgins. In turn, quoted by “NYT”, the director of the Warsaw office of the European Council on Foreign Affairs (ECFR), Piotr Buras, indicated that the likely scenario is now a “constitutional crisis” involving a “clash” between the parliament and President Andrzej Duda.
Higgins writes that “Duda will probably first entrust Law and Justice with the mission (of forming a new government – ed.)”, but the chances of the party that has been in power for the last eight years building a parliamentary majority “are slim.” “If none of the candidates for prime minister proposed by the president wins the support of a majority of the parliament, Duda may order early elections,” the journalist points out, “fueling Poland’s already venomous polarization,” he notes.
“Poland has retained many features of a functioning democracy”
As he notes, the formation of a stable government by the opposition “should reduce the risk” of what Buras called a “confrontation between the parliament and the president”, but “it will open the way to a trench war lasting months or even years around state institutions taken over by Law and Justice,” he adds . The journalist indicates that introducing changes in public media “should be relatively easy.” “It is much more difficult to wrest the judiciary, including the Constitutional Tribunal, from the control of Law and Justice,” says the journalist, also pointing to the National Bank of Poland, led by Adam Glapiński.
“However, unlike Hungary, a much smaller country whose increasingly autocratic Prime Minister Viktor Orban has had 13 years to take over state structures, Poland, controlled by Kaczyński for eight years, has retained many features of a functioning democracy, a vibrant free press unaffiliated with state media and an economy not dominated by cronyism,” we read in the NYT.
Main photo source: Grzegorz Celejewski / Agencja Wyborcza.pl