Poland has become increasingly divided since the Law and Justice’s (PiS) recent rise to power. The country must now cope with political movements that call for the respect of democratic principles even as far as the overthrow of its legally and democratically elected government.
The CoDD and the Modern Party
The newly created Committee for the Defence of Democracy (CoDD) is calling for the democratic process to be observed. “We came to the conclusion that we had to create the CoDD after the PiS broke the political pardon rules, the appointment of a former convict to a government post, the night attack on the Constitutional Tribunal, and even a forced replacement of the heads of the special services,” said Mateusz Kijowski, founder of the CoDD.
At present, politicians, journalists and celebrities are taking to the streets to challenge the government. “It’s not too late, but trust me – I’ve seen it with my own eyes – it’s all becoming more dangerous. And if they don’t stop, if you do not understand that the separation of powers is a necessity, really, trust me when I say that I would take the lead in this fight once again,” declared former president Lech Walesa. Tomasz Lis, the editor-in-chief of Newsweek Poland, posted a couple of statements on Twitter: “Stop the Kaczynski dictatorship! Defend democracy!”, “Kaczynski wants a dictatorship. But if he wants to be Yanukovich, he must know that Warsaw will be Maidan!”
The CoDD is modelled on the Workers’ Defence Committee, a Polish opposition organization which operated from September 1976 to September 1977 and opposed the government policies of the Polish People’s Republic. Mateusz Kijowski, a social activist and (in his own words) unemployed person now dependent on his wife, is its face and co-founder.
Another expeditiously created movement receiving substantial support in the polls is the party Nowoczesna (Modern), whose leader Ryszard Petru is a Polish economist and politician who is also the President of the Association of Polish Economists and a former advisor to Leszek Balcerowicz. In 2001-2004 he worked as an economist responsible for Poland and Hungary at the World Bank. Leszek Balcerowicz was charged with implementing so-called “shock therapy” in Poland; this was developed by George Soros and Jeffrey Sachs to take the country out of communism.
Both the CoDD and Modern movements have come to the fore very quickly, gaining surprisingly substantial public support considering their only recent emergence. The leader of Modern openly talks about the need to take to the streets. “Let’s try and remember how it was on the Internet during the ACTA protests, shall we? People congregated online, yet eventually moved into the streets; the mood of tension must be built up on the Internet first. I would start with this. Then we will propose the next steps, remembering that acts now being carried out by the PiS are similar to those which weakened the constitution in Viktor Orban’s Hungary,” he wrote.
Searching for the enemies within
Both the CoDD and the Modern Party are attracting increasing numbers of people because of their continued presence in the mainstream media. Some commentators and politicians, however, are questioning the spontaneity of these movements.
“The Modern is a modern party representing foreign banks and corporations, the next incarnation of Unia Wolności,” wrote the leader of the party Kukiz’15 in June.
Marian Kowalski, a former presidential candidate and leader of the National Movement, commented on Facebook: “We have every reason to believe Mr. Petru represents the interests of George Soros in Poland”
These allegations pose a serious threat to the unity of the opposition. “Regardless of what we think of the PiS, we declare that we will not allow anyone to create Maidan-like protests in Warsaw. If an informal coalition of the PO, Nowoczesna, PSL parties and the rest of the Left intends, for the sake of foreign interests, to drive their supporters into the streets and destabilize the country, then the activists gathered under the banners of the Polish Nationalists and the National Dawn would defend the sovereignty of our Motherland,” reacted Kowalski.
However, the CoDD founder Mateusz Kijowski claims his movement is non-political and has only the goal of uniting the party and citizens under the banner of defending democracy and civil liberties, and building a civil society.