Contrary to alarmists media reports we want to reassure you – in Poland, there are no threats to democracy. The mainstream media keep criticizing the current government at will, all day long. People enjoy the right to public protest. This seems obvious in a democracy, however, during the last eight years it was not standard in Poland. It was during the rule of the Civic Platform and Polish People’s Party (PO-PSL) coalition that the standards of a democratic state were frequently violated. Here are some examples.
– During the rule of PO-PSL coalition, independent journalists were repeatedly harassed by the security agencies. The staff of, among others, “Gazeta Polska” had their homes searched. In May 2011, at six in the morning, agents of the Internal Security Agency entered the flat of an Internet user who ran a satirical website on Bronisław Komorowski.
– Independent journalists were dismissed from their posts as they demanded honest investigation into the Smolensk crash. Tomasz Sakiewicz and Anita Gargas, among others, lost their jobs in the public media. Cezary Gmyz was dismissed from the editorial staff of “Rzeczpospolita” for publishing information indicating that there were traces of TNT found on the wreck of the plane that crashed at Smolensk. Later, the information was confirmed by the prosecutors leading the investigation.
– In June 2014, agents of the Internal Security Agency raided the office of a weekly “Wprost” which revealed stenographic records of conversations held by most important politicians. The agents wanted to confiscate computers and data storage discs belonging to the journalists. The so called tape scandal that erupted a few days earlier, provided evidence, among other things, that state-owned companies subsidized only the media writing in favour of the government. They ignored such indicators as reading of the press. Media houses were pressed not to place their advertisements in the independent press. For that reason a huge part of the media, Gazeta Polska included, were deprived of paid-for commercial advertisements.
– In December 2014, two journalists (Tomasz Gzell of the Polish Press Agency and Jan Pawlicki of Telewizja Republika) were arrested. They covered the protest held at the headquarters of the National Electoral Commission. For a week or so the Commission was not able to provide the results of the local elections which agitated Poles and some decided to occupy the premises of the Commission. The journalists were arrested even though they had their identity cards. They also faced a lawsuit against them. To this very day the results of the last local elections remain highly questionable, the proof being 2 thousand protest notes lodged in local courts.
– During the last 8 years, the previous government kept journalists and citizens under surveillance as a usual practice. Only in 2014, the secret service applied to have 2,177,000 telephone billings. In Europe we were definitely in the lead. The District Public Prosecutor’s Office in Warsaw is having an investigation into the wiretapping of independent journalists. In all likelihood, the service had no court warrant to do so.
– In May 2015, after lost election by President Bronisław Komorowski, the PO-PSL coalition violated the constitution and decided to elect new members of the Constitutional Tribunal. The politicians of the retiring coalition wanted to limit the right of the new ruling party to elect judges of their choice and appropriate the Tribunal completely. Today, after the reforms implemented by the Law and Justice (PiS), the judges elected by the Civic Platform still constitute the majority. They occupy 9 of 15 seats in the Constitutional Tribunal.
These are just a few glaring examples. Similar violations of civil liberties were truly abundant. The government formed by the PO-PSL coalition were also involved in many corruption scandals. Under their nose a pyramid scheme Amber Gold flourished, thousands of Poles were cheated and deprived of their savings. The public said enough is enough and two months ago in democratic election removed the PO-PSL coalition from power.
Democracy in Poland is doing fine, as compared to the eight years under the previous government.