Saturday, July 22, 2017

European Union's Left, not Poland, is a threat to democracy

Europe's postmodern Left has escalated its attacks against Poland that started to remind us of September 1939. Let me offer you two texts about the tension.

First, a translation of an article by science-fiction writer Mr Ondřej Neff at his The Invisible Dog.

The Constitutional Court and Poland
By Ondřej Neff

On the website of the Czech constitutional court, it is possible to find a joint statement concerning the situation in Poland. It was signed by various important personalities, chairmen of the Constitutional, Supreme, and Supreme Administrative courts, the Attorney General, as well as the Ombudswoman. The latest changes that took place in Poland are being described as steps that are threatening the untouchable values of the European civilization, humanism, and basic rights and freedoms.

These are strong words from the mouths of significant officials. It is impossible to overlook that a European thunderstorm is getting closer and Poland will be treated as a heretic. A project to strip Poland of her voting rights in the EU has been revealed – however, that would have to be approved by the European Council where Bohuslav Sobotka is representing us as the prime minister. He would have to raise his hand.

All these things are known to those who are interested in the matters at least a little bit. However, it's much less known what the dispute is about – except that it's supposed to be about a threat for the independence of the judicial power, one of the three pillars of a democratic system aside from the executive and legislative power. We know that democracy is threatened in Poland because they are touching the independence of the courts. How independent are courts here in Czechia? Our system is such that the judges are appointed by the president of the republic. It depends on what kind of a court we talk about – in some cases, the prime minister and the Senate may participate in the process. Nevertheless, the final move is made by the president, i.e. an element of the executive power. It means that the executive branch of the government has the main influence on the composition of courts in the Czech Republic.

So far, the composition of the Polish Supreme Council of Judges depends on activist boards and the existing judges themselves. The institute of these boards reminds us of the idea of the reform proposed by Ms Hana Marvanová who wanted to transfer the supervision over the public radio and TV to activist organizations outside the reach of the elected organs. Yes, this is a corporativist concept and the whole discussion is all about the corporativism built upon the mistrust in the democratic arrangement of the so-called civic society. A partial change was just made and this is the general background of the whole fight around the Polish court system.

When the Left lost the most recent Parliamentary elections, it still managed to use these Polish corporativist boards to replace the people at key posts in the court system. It was exactly this arbitrary act that ignited the currently adopted reform of the judicial system: according to the new law, the decisive council would be composed both of judges and representatives elected by the Parliament. Chairs of the lower courts would be appointed by the minister of justice which is analogous to the president's role in Czechia. From a rational perspective, there's no reason for anger. A problematic part of the new law is a different thing: the judges of the Supreme Court could be fired. That would indeed strip them of a major part of their independence – and in Czechia, they can't be dismissed, of course.

So the reasons are mostly ideological rather than meritocratic. Europe's Left is annoyed by the new Polish political suite which is why Europe's left is trying to go after the neck of the Polish politicians whenever it can and wherever it can: any excuse seems to be good enough for these assaults.

At 1:02, the Polish anthem describes Bonaparte as their role model in fights. A Polish lawmaker just noticed that Napoleon ultimately became a big loser so he wants to remove that verse from the anthem. ;-) They should better replace the verse around 0:32 and 1:23 as well which is a recipe for migrants to march from Italy to Poland.

The left-wing corporativism, that is the actual plague that is spreading through Western Europe under the distinguished brand of the Civic Society, under the banner of the European values. Professor V. V. Štech liked to say that when a beef steak has an adjective, it's always a burger. Analogously, when democracy has an adjective, it's always a dictatorship. We had the opportunity to learn this lesson in our people's democracy. The liberal democracy is – apparently and unfortunately – sliding towards this outcome in an unstoppable way, too. It begins with the crippling of the freedom of speech.

Incidentally, have you noticed that the most widely cited American daily in Czechia is the Washington Post and the most cited British daily is the Guardian here? Both of them are left-wing activist rags.

Now, my answer to a question on Quora.

Why are authoritarian tendencies on the rise in Poland?
By Luboš Motl

The talk about the authoritarian tendencies in Poland is mostly just the European Union’s propaganda that rationally, critically thinking people don’t take seriously.

In Poland, the Law and Justice party simply became very powerful in the latest elections. It was widely seen as the most credible force protecting the Polish traditions and national interests in a given context. They got almost 40% of votes which is a lot.

It may happen in every country that a party gets this strong, there is nothing wrong about it per se. But when it’s so, such a party is naturally close enough to a constitutional majority, at least when several allies are added. With such a majority, it makes sense for the party to try to fix perceived problems in the deeper constitutional mechanisms.

"On the Blade Edge". An advantage of Ewa Farna's Polish songs is that for most of them, there also exists a Czech remake.

The Law and Justice party and its voters mostly believe that the courts are too unaccountable. Many Poles would tell you that the judicial system is still running according to the communist rules and is controlled by assorted old Mafias. It seems that this part of the country hasn’t quite undergone the desired transformation and the problems may be fixed when the executive power becomes somewhat more powerful in some matters and refreshes the composition of judges. It is a possible proposal that could be discussed in any country. With the big party in the power, Poland has a bigger chance to make these changes.

But these proposals are still controversial. They would be controversial elsewhere and they are controversial in Poland, too. In particular, President Duda – although he is a member of the same Law and Justice party – threatened to veto the new law about the reduction of the judicial power if it doesn’t change. It’s not clear what the final outcome is but the right attitude of a foreigner is to leave these internal matters to the Polish citizens and their political institutions.

The European Union’s officials are working hard to spread hostile comments about Poland and Hungary. Both Poland and Hungary have a rather dominant party that leads the government. The perceived problems with the two countries are similar in some respects and different in others. But the actual reason of the hostile propaganda from the European Union is that Poland and Hungary are adopting certain attitudes – such as their clear “No” to mass migration – that the European Union finds politically inconvenient.

The somewhat controversial changes about the judicial power in Poland, the role of NGOs and foreign-funded universities in Hungary, and so on, are just an excuse for the European Union’s attacks. The European Union and its faithful are really trying to damage the name of other countries with similar attitudes as well, e.g. the Czech Republic where I live. A difference is that so far, Czechia is led by a coalition government where the largest two parties had about 20% in the elections. So there is no real concentration of power and the “authoritarian” accusations would sound rather silly given the continuing intense competitive struggles between the Czech political parties.

But you can read in between the lines that the degree of animosity is about the same for the three countries (and almost the same for Slovakia although there are hints that the European Union would like to single out Slovakia as a “somewhat more well-behaved boy” in the Visegrád Group) and the existence of the big political parties in Hungary and Poland is just making the libels against the two countries easier.

If someone is dangerously abandoning the basic principles of democracy, it is neither Poland nor Hungary: it is obviously the European Union.

Concerning the attacks of Poland, I hope that with allies, my Czech homeland will veto the attempts to impose sanctions on Poland according to Article 7 of the notorious Lisbon Treaty:

Poland Likely to Evade EU Sanctions With Support of Hungary, UK, Czech Republic

Saturday update: Hungary also already announced that it will vote against the European Union anti-Polish steps and it described the European Commission as the Inquisition. The Czech government is annoyingly lukewarm and silent.

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