The true issue with Polish democracy is the toxicity of the Civic Platform (PO), but with the arrival of a strong left in the Sejm and PiS’ proposal to create better relations between political parties, there is a chance to end this toxicity.
At times, small, seemingly unimportant events encapsulate an issue better than elaborate analysis. Such an event took place last week when Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki announced his exposé and plans for the government during a ceremony introducing Poland’s new government.
A young leftist MP, Paulina Matysiak, posted a short message on Twitter regarding her experience during Morawiecki’s speech:
“I have the questionable pleasure to be seated near Civic Platform MPs, who keep on booing, screaming and insulting. I would have expected a higher level of propriety from our MPs.”
Although this comment may seem minor, it is not unimportant. While not the only piece of evidence, it along with other factors supports a thesis that the largest problem of Polish democracy is not a division into PiS and anti-PiS, the left and right, believers and atheists, post-communists and post-Solidarity, or rural and urban – instead the largest problem is the toxicity of one of Poland’s largest parties, the PO.
It is the same party which is responsible for starting the “Polish-Polish war” between 2005 and 2007, a war that never really ended in 2007 because the PO never ceased waging it.
This used to be an efficient strategy for PO, but thankfully it is reaching the end of its usefulness. Due to its failure to swiftly destroy PiS, the opposition is ending its military-like mobilization against conservatives and exploring more pluralist methods.
The other reason is the appearance of the left in the Sejm, which is speaking with its own voice this time and is pointing out PO’s dramatically weak program. One just needs to compare the speeches of PO leader Grzegorz Schetyna to that of Adrian Zandberg of the left-wing Razem party. The former shouted out his old, empty phrases, while the latter tried to refer to reality even if he sometimes took shortcuts.
Both PiS leader Jarosław Kaczyński and Morawiecki put forward a reasonable proposal to open a new stage in relations between political forces. It’s a stage which will not end conflicts and create fictional unity, but which can bring an end to this toxic total warfare which PO has been practicing for over a decade.
The chances for real change are now larger than they have been since 2005.