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Feb 22, 2024

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Poland’s New Lawless Government

By Lucja Swiatkowski Cannon

When the progressive coalition won the election in Poland on Oct. 15, there was an expectation that there would be major changes in the public sphere.

However, when the new government was formed on Dec. 13 under leadership of Prime Minister Donald Tusk, it immediately started to attack its predecessors with police tactics and make threats of prosecution and removal of virtually all top officials in Poland.

These aggressive attacks were billed as the restoration of the rule of law, but they rather signify the destruction of constitutional order and bring lawlessness.

The essence of the Tusk political and police assault is the destruction of authority of President Andrzej Duda.

Right after the election, threats were made to impeach him and remove his numerous appointees: the president of the central bank, top judges, and other officials.

Clearly, the president’s constitutional powers are not recognized.

A Tusk government pursued similar policies when he was in power previously in 2007-2015 against then-President Lech Kaczynski.

He ridiculed his every move, disputed his use of a government plane, and diminished his security, which contributed to the 2010 Smolensk, Russia, plane crash, and the death of the president and all NATO trained top military commanders on board.

Then, Tusk handed over the investigation to the Vladimir Putin-linked commission who blamed the victim, as usual. This led to major instability in Poland.

The office of the president in the Polish political system was reestablished during the transition from communism when the nexus of political authority was transferred from the discredited communist party to the presidency.

The president had a wide-ranging and dominant position. He was elected by the Parliament and could dissolve it under certain circumstances, giving him a control of legislation.

In the 1997 constitution, the president’s powers were curtailed somewhat and it was decided that he be elected directly.

The president’s powers are still extensive, especially in areas of defense and foreign affairs. He or she is the highest state representative and protects the sovereignty, security, and borders of the country.

They are commander in chief of armed forces, and appoints the Chief of General Staff, force commanders, and ambassadors. The president also makes decisions about military mobilization and the use of force.

The president also has a role in domestic policies by appointing presidents of all major courts and judges in general, designating the prime minister, the president of the central bank and members of monetary council as well as members of the National Council of Radio and TV. The president has the right to grant clemency.

Since the formation of his government on Dec. 13, Tusk has been attacking institutions supervised by Duda.

When Tusk wanted to change the political orientation of state TV, he should have worked with the president to appoint new members of the Radio and TV Council who would choose new executives for state media.

Instead, his new Minister of Culture and National Heritage, Bartłomiej Sienkiewicz, sent in police at 3 a.m. on Dec. 19 to turn off the TV signal and physically kick out old executives and journalists from their offices. This gave a virtual media monopoly to progressives.

After the election, when a case against the former anti-corruption chief and his deputy who previously got under the skin of leftist politicians, was resurrected even though they were pardoned by the president, though his clemency was not recognized.

They were kidnapped from the presidential palace in his absence and put in jail where they are on a hunger strike.

Tusk tried to remove the president of the central bank and numerous judges and the prosecutor general.

Now, the new Minister of Defense announced an audit of the ministry and of the commanders of the General Staff from the previous government.

This is interpreted as a preparation for attacks on defense officials and programs, especially extensive plans to rearm the Polish Army with modern weapons.

There is also talk of canceling advanced plans for construction of the large central airport, vital from the point of view of defense logistics.

Thus, the Tusk government is diminishing the whole institutional edifice of office of the president. He is violating the Polish Constitution, the separation of powers, and the rule of law.

He is trying to seize the power of the president for his government and for himself to have total control. This not only threatens the constitutional order and democracy in Poland but its national security.

Aggressive destruction of all presidential prerogatives and his most important role as the Commander of the Armed Forces is endangering the whole country.

Dr. Lucja Swiatkowski Cannon is Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of World Politics in Washington. She is a strategist, expert and author on Eastern Europe, Russia and US-East European relations. In 1989-1999, she was an adviser on democratic and economic reforms in Poland.

Article first appeared on NEWSMAX (Wednesday, January 24, 2024, 11:04 AM)

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