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During the elections for the Polish parliament on October 25th 2015, the party PiS obtained the absolute majority.

Shortly afterwards, the party used that majority to enact certain authoritarian policies. Specifically:

  • Increasing the control of the parliament over the public media
  • Reducing the powers of the constitutional court
  • Increased surveillance rights for law enforcement

Did PiS announce their intentions to enact these policies during their election campaign in 2015?

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Not directly. In general, the success of PiS stems a lot from the failure of PO but also an increasingly moderate manifesto/election campaign. It could have been assumed though. Especially Kazinsky repeatedly expressed his fondness of Orban's constitutional changes, and when the polls indicated PiS could get an absolute majority, he said: We have to show that the Polish public life can look completely different. In 2010 the PiS also made proposals for changes to the constitution that were similar to the ones now implemented.

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Increasing the control of the parliament over the public media

For last 30 years it was common that the party, which won the elections was making changes to public broadcaster.

e.g. list of journalists fired after the previous ruling party took power in 2007: Bronisław Wildstein, Rafał Ziemkiewicz, Krzysztof Skowroński, Marek Pyza, Anita Gargas, Katarzyna Hejke, Tomasz Sakiewicz, Jacek Sobala, Michał Karnowski, Anna Sarzyńska, Piotr Skwieciński, Wanda Zwinogrodzka, Artur Dmochowski, Tomasza Sakiewicz.

Today they are back, people who voted for PiS were expecting the change.

Worth noted, during ruling of pro-German party on 18 June 2014 domestic intelligence agency entered the office of magazine Wprost, demanding handing over the the computer with recordings discrediting polish government officials. Sylwester Latkowski Editor-in-chief refused to give up the recordings citing reporter's privilege. Police officers attempted to take recording by force, after few hours stand off the police left the premising without computer. I guess German newspapers did not raise any alert back then.

Reducing the powers of the constitutional court

The case is more complicated than one sentence. Everything started when the previous government attempted to replace the judges whose terms were due to expire in December, after the election the party was going to lose. In response newly elected president refused to swear in these judges stating that they had been chosen "in contravention of democratic principles". The opinion was similar to those in USA, congress refused to nominate supreme court judge pointed by Obama. The president Duda, publicly stated that he will allow newly elected parliament to choose the judges and not appoint the ones elected by the previous one. People knew about that during the elections.

Increased surveillance rights for law enforcement

The law in force prior to 2016 was rendered unconstitutional in July 2014. The constitutional court ruled that the unconstitutional are part of the legal basis for operational control; lack of independent control by downloading data telecommunications services; no rules wiretaps destruction of public trust (eg. lawyers or journalists); No obligation for destruction by domestic agencies collected useless data. The court also ordered to determine the maximum duration of operational activities to the unit, which within a reasonable time after their completion should be informed about them. The court postponed the entry into force of the judgment for 18 months, e.g. February 2016.

The new law regulating the surveillance was due four months after the elections. Everyone who was up to date with the state affairs would understand that new law will be passed shortly after the elections.

The new law is not different than other similar laws in europe. For sure in Poland there is no penalty for making posts on social networks.

The previous ruling party politician Paweł Piskorski acknowledged in his book that Donald Tusk, the party leader was given money by German party CDU. Piskorski encouraged people accusing him of lying to take it to the court. They didn't. Also Bartoszewski, minister of foreign affairs received 130k DM from German Robert Bosch foundation for 'for his contribution in shaping polish-german relations'.

Mark Dekan, the boss of Axel Springel, a company that owns several 'polish' newspapers sent a note to journalists instructing them how to cover results of EU summit. Polish Minster of foreign afairs criticized the note saying: '“We express our concern that German-Swiss company Ringier Axel Springer sent a letter to its Polish employees which could constitute an attempt to interfere with media independence in Poland.'

German newspapers are attacking Polish government, because Germans can have Poland either as a vassal or as enemy.

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