Will Poland Be the Next Chapter in the Political Crisis Plaguing Europe?
The radicalism and intransigence of Poland’s Law and Justice Party, which entrenched itself politically this year by winning both the presidential and parliamentary elections, could not only end up destabilizing Poland, but could send shockwaves throughout the European Union as a whole, warns Austrian political scientist Eric Frey.
In his analysis, published on the site of Austrian daily newspaper Der Standard, Frey suggests that Law and Justice chairman Jaroslaw Kaczynski’s coarseness and simple-mindedness could result in the latest chapter to a European crisis which already threatens to overwhelm the beleaguered supranational union.
The journalist notes that “as if the Euro-crisis, Greece, Ukraine, the influx of refugees and the possible withdrawal of Britain from the European Union are not enough, an even bigger crisis awaits us in 2016. The situation in Poland is developing very dramatically, and could shake the European Union to its very foundations.”
Frey lays out for his readers a scenario which he believes, unfortunately, “is quite likely.”
“The recent elections in Poland,” the analyst notes, “brought to power the Law and Justice Party (the PiS), led by Jaroslaw Kaczynski. This is a party which has no respect for the core values of the EU, or for democratic principles. It follows in the tradition of Polish fascism from the period between the first and second world wars, and considers its main objective to be to protect the ‘special values’ of Poland against enemies both foreign and domestic. For Kaczynski and his colleagues, critics are traitors and enemies of the people who have no place in the political life of the country.”
Compared to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, another Eastern European politician who has been accused of authoritarian tendencies, Kaczynski is not only “more cruel, but also less clever.”For his part, Frey suggests, “Orban is much smarter and more tactically agile. Achieving a resounding victory in 2010, he has gradually expanded his power, but has restrained his zeal when he came up against powerful resistance from his opponents.”
Orban, furthermore, “has the ability to convince others of the correctness of his policy – in particular with regard to policy on immigration. To this end, for example, he can go to the European Parliament in Strasbourg, offering rhetorically polished speeches. Moreover, he is capable of defending himself eloquently in front of journalists, even if many believe that this erstwhile liberal does not believe everything he says.”
Kaczynski, on the other hand, “has never been a liberal – even in the early days of the Solidarity trade union opposition movement. He appears to be convinced in his reactionary beliefs, along with all sorts of conspiracy theories, including a theory that Russia deliberately caused the presidential plane crash which killed his brother Lech in Smolensk in 2010.”