There is an official list of organizations taking part in the referendum campaign, including a whole range of foundations of State Treasury companies. Therefore, PiS’s flagship idea will be supported by, among others, PKO BP and PKO SA, PKP, Poczta Polska and PZU. The referendum will take place on October 15, together with the parliamentary elections. In the referendum campaign – unlike the election campaign – there are no financial limits.
For the opposition, this is actually a confirmation of its previous fears. – This is probably the strongest confirmation of everything that the democratic opposition was saying, that all the instruments that the government has in its hands will be used in this election campaign – says Dariusz Klimczak, PSL, Trzecia Droga.
By September 11, the National Electoral Commission had to verify the applications of foundations related to State Treasury companies. The official list of entities participating in the referendum campaign includes, among others, the Polish Post Foundation, foundations of banks, energy companies, PKP, PZU, the National Food Group and the Polish Armaments Group. – After all, these foundations are created from the money of these companies, and these companies earn money from citizens who pay their bills – emphasizes Arkadiusz Marchewka, PO, Civic Coalition.
Now the same foundations want to get involved in the campaign before the referendum pushed by PiS. Whenever the idea of a referendum combined with elections appeared, experts warned that there would be a risk of abuse. – The referendum campaign is basically exempt from most requirements – emphasizes Professor Marcin Wiącek, the Commissioner for Human Rights. Unlike an election campaign, a referendum campaign is not subject to strict financial control, there are no detailed settlements and, above all, no spending limits. In a situation where PiS has proposed referendum questions around which it wants to build its election campaign, it is easy to have doubts. – These topics will always coincide with election topics. There is a temptation to abuse these state resources, this financing beyond control, this lack of reporting – warns Patryk Wachowiec, an analyst at the Civic Development Forum.
Questions about equality of elections
According to the referendum regulations, participation in the campaign includes, for example, the possibility of broadcasting spots in public media. Political parties and, for example, non-governmental organizations may participate in the referendum campaign. In the case of foundations, in order to obtain the consent of the National Electoral Commission, they must conduct activities related to the subject of the referendum and this activity must be within the scope of the foundation’s statutory objectives. For example, the National Electoral Commission refused to allow the Warsaw Stock Exchange Foundation, but those related to State Treasury companies received approval. – Virtually all foundations can take part, because there is a very wide range of people who can run a referendum campaign. but where is the decency, where is the equality of choices? – asks Katarzyna Lubnauer, Nowoczesna, Civic Coalition.
The Polish Post Foundation wrote to TVN24 that the institution of referendum is the cornerstone of every mature democracy and that it wants to activate Poles. – Now they (foundations – editor’s note) will talk about the need to go to a referendum, and in the background there will be Kaczyński, Morawiecki, Sasin, Błaszczak and all the instruments of Law and Justice – emphasizes Tomasz Trela from the New Left. The former Ombudsman says that one electoral committee has de facto unlimited access to public money and can spend it on its election campaign. This is a serious interference with electoral rules. – It is also a violation, and a very serious violation, of the principle of equality – warns Andrzej Zoll, former president of the Constitutional Tribunal and former Ombudsman.
Translations by those in power
State Treasury companies controlled by PiS are of considerable importance before the elections. – These are such piggy banks of Law and Justice – says Wanda Nowicka, Nowa Lewica. Submissions to the referendum campaign are one thing. The second are payments from people employed there. – When people are employed in State Treasury companies and then allocate part of their remuneration to support one party in various ways, and yet this is happening, it is simply unfair – emphasizes Włodzimierz Czarzasty from the New Left. PiS rejects these doubts. – I absolutely see a corporate justification for such involvement in the referendum of foundations related to the largest Polish concerns that are the pride of the Polish economy – assures Janusz Kowalski, Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Sovereign Poland, KP PiS.
We hear from the government that since the Civic Platform has nothing to hide regarding referendum questions, the participation of State Treasury companies should not bother it. – Donald Tusk says that he is basically “for” all these questions. It is true that he would not like to vote, but he is “for”. So he should be happy that even State Treasury companies will encourage people to take part in the referendum and vote “yes”. If we all agree, what exactly arouses such emotions? – asks Bartosz Kownacki from PiS. Emotions are there and not groundless, says the opposition. Because the chances in these elections turn out to be simply unequal. – These are not fair elections. These are elections where some people have stimulants – says Katarzyna Lubnauer. The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, which is monitoring the Polish elections, announced that it will pay attention to whether and to what extent the referendum campaign will have an impact on the parliamentary elections.
Main photo source: Facts after noon