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Weeklies on Polish power struggles

January 22nd, 2024

Two radical and two moderate analyses from both sides of the political spectrum offer diametrically opposed evaluations of the first controversial steps by the new Polish government to consolidate its political positions.

In Heti Világgazdaság, Árpád W. Tóta welcomes the decision of the new Polish government to oust prominent managers and journalists from the public TV station. Those were simple propagandists who never stopped lying, he claims. He also agrees with the move to arrest the Minister of the Interior of the former government and his deputy who were convicted of abuse of power but were then pardoned in a controversial move by the President of the Republic. A regime change, Tóta argues, is only possible by ’getting rid of all the junk’. In Hungary, he believes, regime change will be significantly tougher because, as he puts it, the sins of the incumbent government are much graver and more spectacular. He explicitly accuses the Prime Minister’s family of being directly involved in corruption.

In Demokrata, constitutional lawyer Zoltán Lomnici calls the measures taken by the new Polish government a ‘constitutional coup d’état’, a wholesale attack on the rule of law in Poland. The leaders of the European Union, he continues, are happily assisting the police who penetrate the presidential palace where the two politicians of the previous government were arrested. People should not delude themselves into believing that the exact same procedures could not happen if the current opposition were to come to power in Hungary, he warns. If they tried however, Lomnici adds, the flames of protest would immediately leap up in Budapest.

In Élet és Irodalom, Edit Zgut-Przybylska, a Hungarian political analyst who lives in Poland concedes that opinions in Warsaw diverge about whether the measures taken by the new government are legal and constitutional. However, she explains, the new government did not try to pass legislation to get rid of the TV propagandists, because any such law would be immediately vetoed by President Duda, who belongs to the ousted government majority. Meanwhile, she is convinced that the new government, instead of appointing its own vassals as the previous one did, is about to choose politically non-committed people to head the public TV station. The next difficult step the government will take, she predicts, will be ‘to review the status of thousands of judges appointed by the previous government’.

Mandiner’s Gellért Rajcsányi points out that the losers and winners of last autumn’s election in Poland are irreconcilable enemies. In theory, both are right-wing, but whereas the ousted Law and Justice Party has remained a religious and conservative force, the Civic Platform, the main component of the new governing coalition has become increasingly liberal while in opposition over the past eight years. All the more so, as it includes radical liberals among its allies, he writes. The enmity between those two camps has further deepened since the election of the new government and Rajcsányi wonders whether the most recent political clashes should be seen as stumbling blocks in a peaceful takeover or the initial episodes of a ‘cold civil war’.



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