2015 brought significant political changes to Poland. It proved to be a great election comeback by the Law and Justice Party (PiS). Although new faces have appeared in the Parliament (MPs), this refreshing change did not prevent the monopolisation of political power: after 10 years in opposition, PiS won the most seats in both chambers of the Polish parliament.
In summarizing the results of last year’s parliamentary elections in Poland I briefly mentioned that “the rule of Catholic conservatives might stand in opposition to respecting the rights of women “. It took less than a year for this prophecy to come true. Thousands of women in Poland are joining Black Protests to demonstrate against the newest radical anti-abortion law proposal.
The refugee crisis has exposed cracks in the EU’s political foundations. Failure to agree over how to implement refugee quotas and inability to coordinate humanitarian actions has allowed Eurosceptics to vaunt their populist talents. Information chaos has wreaked havoc in Europe, radicalising public opinion. The Right joined forces, holding a hard line on immigration policy while appeals for solidarity and common action crashed against the opposition of the Visegrad countries – two of them run by ‘social democrats’. Thus, the refugee crisis has also exposed the crisis of the European left and its internal axiological incoherence.
Last Sunday’s election results left some Poles devastated, but others seem to be if not hopeful, then relieved. The massive victory of the conservative Law and Justice party (Prawo i Sprawiedliwość, PiS) defeating Civic Platform (Platforma Obywatelska – PO) was, however, not a political earthquake, but rather a self-fulfilling prophecy that finally came true. Perhaps it also is a manifestation of a deeper change within Polish society. The question is if this will turn to good account for Poland – and for Europe, too.
Recently I have had the great pleasure of participating in an event commemorating what would have been Willy Brandt’s 100th birthday in Berlin. During the conference we elaborated on his legacy together with his old friend Egon Bahr. The discussions were very inspiring, however they led to the sad conclusion that Willy Brandt is not enough remembered in Central and Eastern Europe.