November 21st 2015


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COVER STORY Gender variety has no basis in science

CANBERRA OBSERVED PM's political capital may be tax-reform casualty

EDITORIAL IPCC and the media: Last Tango in Paris

FOREIGN AFFAIRS Poland's election sends shock waves through EU

THE ELECTRONICS REVOLUTION Create infrastructure to bridge coming robo gap

LIFE ISSUES Keeping a straight face with Andrew Denton on euthanasia

LIFE ISSUES With Nitschke out of death industry, Exit must go next

EUROPEAN AFFAIRS Euro banks were lending like there's no tomorrow

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS Polls show conservative resurgence at grassroots

RELIGION IN RUSSIA State control, Slavophiles prepare way for apostasy

CULTURE Mankind needs to work; and mankind needs work

PUBLIC POLICY Drug substitutes used as treatment are lethal

CINEMA The man who stands back up: Bridge of Spies

BOOK REVIEW We're getting better all the time

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FOREIGN AFFAIRS
Poland's election sends shock waves through EU


by Peter Westmore

News Weekly, November 21, 2015

In an election almost totally ignored in Australia, Poland’s Law and Justice Party has secured an absolute majority in the country’s parliament (Sejm), in a major blow to the European Union (EU).

Poland’s Prime Minister-elect

Beata Szydlo.

Liam Halligan wrote in the London Telegraph: “We’ve just seen history made in Poland. Following last week’s parliamentary elections, a single party is now in power for the first time since the 1989 communist collapse.” (October 31, 2015)

The election result is particularly significant because Poland is a member of NATO and has a population of 37 million people, the largest in Eastern Europe.

The Law and Justice Party, with 37.6 per cent of the vote, decisively defeated Civic Platform, a pro-EU party which won power in Poland in 2007 and which polled just 24 per cent.

Under Poland’s electoral system, Law and Justice has secured an absolute majority in the Polish parliament.

The election followed Poland’s presidential election last May, won by Law and Justice’s candidate, Andrzej Duda. Law and Justice is now the dominant political party in Poland.

Economic growth

One reason why overseas observers were surprised by the result was that under Civic Platform, Poland’s economy has been doing relatively well.

Since 2008, under Civic Platform, real per capita income has risen by 2.7 per cent a year. Even last year, despite external headwinds, not least the Russia-Ukraine conflict, Poland grew by 3.4 per cent, making it Europe’s fastest-growing economy.

Yet it was decisively defeated in both the presidential election last May and the recent parliamentary elections.

There are several reasons. One is that Civic Platform is widely viewed as corrupt. A political scandal broke in mid-2014 when recordings conducted illicitly in a Warsaw restaurant revealed shadowy deals involving top officials from the Civic Platform party.

In some recordings, high-profile politicians used crude and derogatory language to describe Polish foreign policy, with then foreign minister Radoslaw Sikorski calling the Polish-American alliance, the foundation of Poland’s international policy, “worthless”. Sikorski, by then serving as Poland’s parliamentary speaker, and the health, sports, and treasury ministers later resigned from their positions.

Separately, young Poles believe that Civic Platform ignored them. Many felt they weren’t benefiting from Poland’s “free market” economic growth.

On the other side, Law and Justice promised an active, interventionist policy on the economy and foreign policy. The party campaigned on a six-year cheap lending program that Civic Platform criticised as detrimental to the independence of Poland’s central bank.

Additionally, Law and Justice has pledged to raise taxes on large corporations while doing more to help smaller businesses and families. It has also called for higher taxes on banks and supermarkets, many of which are foreign owned.

In the area of defence, the party has pledged to raise defence spending from under 2 per cent to over 2.5 per cent of GDP, in response to the Ukrainian crisis, which it blames on Moscow.

The Law and Justice Party is also Euro-sceptic, particularly in response to the EU’s secular humanist agenda in relation to homosexuals and same-sex marriage, abortion and in vitro fertilisation (IVF), as well as climate change policy. It is also critical of EU efforts in relation to the admission of Syrian and other Middle-Eastern migrants into Europe.

Following the example of Hungary, whose new constitution protects human life from conception to natural death, the new government is expected to tighten Poland’s abortion laws. Some MPs, including the party’s candidate for prime minister, Beata Szydlo, have in the past pushed to ban the procedure entirely.

The former Civic Platform government antagonised the overwhelming majority of the country’s population by passing laws permitting access to IVF, prompting bishops to say that lawmakers who voted for the law could be denied Holy Communion.

One declared that IVF was a “time bomb” because it denied IVF children their rights.

“You prepared a murderous law, because children are frozen, stopped in their development, waiting in ice-cold conditions until someone decides whether they live or not,” Archbishop Andrzej Dziega said in a sermon in July, addressing lawmakers.

Poland’s economy is heavily dependent on coal-fired power stations, and it believes that the EU’s anti-coal agenda is targeted at Poland and other countries like it. Efforts by the EU to force Poland to comply with its agenda will undoubtedly be firmly resisted by the new government in Warsaw.

After the EU’s bruising encounter with the Syriza government of Greece, and British Prime Minister David Cameron’s insistence on renegotiating the terms of British membership of the EU, the election of the new Polish government will strengthen the hand of the reformists within the EU.

It is uncertain how the European Union will respond.




























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