The recent upheaval in Turkey has been seized upon by opponents of Poland’s ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party to accuse it of leading the country in a similar direction. On a political chat show on Sunday, an opposition politician claimed that Poland is currently under a ‘dictatorship’ of the same type as Turkey’s. When pressed further on what was clearly an exaggerated claim, he admitted that ‘there are dictatorships and there are dictatorships’ – the point being that ‘Poland is on the wrong track’. Continue reading
(Updated in light of new evidence; see end of article)
Another article has appeared in the international media expressing concern at the actions of the new Polish government, this time from the Washington Post, which reports on fears of a ‘creeping coup d’etat’ taking place. However, as with much foreign coverage of the country, the piece is over-simplistic, exaggerated and fails to provide context.
In particular, the description of the new defense minister, Antoni Macierewicz, as an ‘outspoken anti-Semite’ is rather far-fetched. The accusation – which has recently appeared in a number of Western media outlets – is based on a slightly ambiguous statement made 13 years ago by Macierewicz in a radio interview, in which he appeared to partially endorse the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. He recently attempted to clarify his remarks, claiming that his words had been ‘manipulated’ and confirming that he ‘condemns anti-Semitism in all its forms’. Continue reading
By Daniel Tilles
Daniel Tilles analyses the intense recent debate in the Polish media over Europe’s current refugee crisis. In this Catholic, conservative and ethnically homogeneous country, disagreement has focused in particular on the dissonance between a Christian duty to help the needy and a desire to defend national culture and identity against the perceived threat of Muslim immigration. He examines the views of a range of Polish outlets from across the ideological spectrum, including Rzeczpospolita, Gazeta Wyborcza, Polityka, Newsweek Polska, Fronda and Tygodnik Powszechny.
As across all of Europe, media discourse in Poland has been dominated recently by the growing refugee crisis on the continent. This is despite the fact that Poland itself has barely been touched by the issue directly. There has been an increase in the number of illegal immigrants detained in Poland this year (including growing numbers from the Middle East and Africa, in the addition to the usual Ukrainians), but the figures pale into insignificance against the experience of countries, such as Hungary, Italy or Germany, that are along the main migration paths. Continue reading
The proposal to stop paying child benefits to parents whose children live outside the UK – supported by all the main British political parties and aimed predominantly at Polish immigrants – is not only unfair but completely self-defeating, as it will actually cost more money than it saves. But it is, unfortunately, highly indicative of the populist, irrational and superficial way in which British politicians and the media respond to legitimate public concern at mass immigration.
I recently wrote on these pages about the rise of anti-Polish rhetoric in the UK and some of the reasons behind it. As I predicted then, such discourse has become increasingly prominent during campaigning for this week’s general election, in which immigration is a central issue. Yet it is also one on which there is a general consensus: that immigration should be more strictly controlled, and thereby reduced.