With its new government, Poland now has a “real problem with democracy,” opposition leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski has said
The leader of Poland’s Law and Justice (PiS) party Jaroslaw Kaczynski has called on Poles to join a planned mass protest next week, urging them to take action to protect “democracy” and “freedom of speech” in the country. The conservative PiS was ousted from power last month, having lost a recent general election to a coalition of pro-EU parties.
Kaczynski made the call on Wednesday during a press conference in Warsaw, announcing a demonstration called ‘The Protest of Free Poles’ to be held outside the country’s parliament next Tuesday.
“On 11 January, a demonstration will be held in Warsaw in defense of freedom of speech, freedom of the media and simply in defense of democracy, because we have a real problem with democracy today,” Kaczynski declared.
The country’s new government, led by veteran pro-EU politician Donald Tusk, aims to “fulfill the expectations of the EU” and reduce the country into a territory governed from the “outside,” Kaczynski warned. The PiS leader also condemned a shake-up of state media carried out by the new government last month.
The new authorities have claimed that the replacement of media bosses was needed to de-politicize the media and fix the damage done when PiS, which had been in power since 2015, ran the country. However, Kaczynski insisted such allegations “were completely invented” while “most of the media was against the government” when PiS held sway.
Rather ironically, the party leader got into a spat with reporters during his press conference after one of them asked whether PiS was being hypocritical with its concerns about media freedom, having itself turned it into a “propaganda mouthpiece.” Kaczynski shot back, accusing the reporter of being “paid to defend what is happening in Poland” and wrapped up the press conference prematurely.
Speaking separately on Wednesday, Tusk stood by his sweeping media reforms, stating that the government would “not take a single step back” in this regard. The prime minister doubled down on the accusations against the PiS, insisting the party was only concerned about media outlets because of its cozy ties with them to reap political benefits. The PM also brushed off concerns that the media takeover might not be a legally-sound move, blaming the PiS for heavily damaging the country’s legislation.
“When we try to solve these things, you all wonder whether it is really perfectly legal,” Tusk stated. “But we all also know that the law they established is unconstitutional…We will make decisions knowing that not everyone will like them.”
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