The extreme partisanship and toxic rhetoric of the Polish state media, directly controlled by Law and Justice (PiS) since its victory in the 2015 legislative elections, shocked Polish moderates and attracted international attention and criticism. Observers note that a disputed result would have been tried by a controversial chamber of the country’s Supreme Court filled with PiS worshipers appointed by Duda himself.
The problem is that the conflict in our society will not end simply because the elections are over ”
Prof Marcin Matczak
“The elections were neither fair nor constitutional, but nothing can be done about it now,” said Marcin Matczak, a law professor at the University of Warsaw and a bitter critic of the government’s campaign to assert control. directly on the Polish judicial system.
“The problem is that the conflict in our society is not going to end just because the elections are over. Unlike his election in 2015, Duda’s legitimacy will be seen as very weak, at a time when he is likely to support an even tougher government program. On top of that, many people have lost confidence in the legitimacy of our institutions to be an impartial arbiter. At a time of growing emotions, I fear that we are entering an even more intense period of division. “
Some fear that Rafał Trzaskowski’s strong performance may mask what many see as the abject failures of the main Polish opposition parties to hold the law and justice accountable.
For several years, efforts to forge a united front in the face of the successful long march of PiS through institutions have been hampered by ideological disagreements and factional conflicts.
“Trzaskowski was a good candidate, but he was hurt by the fact that he represented a party,” said Matczak. “All the polls have suggested that a non-party candidate has a better chance of beating Duda in the second round, but the opposition leadership has placed the party above the country and now we are all paying for it. “
For others, Duda’s victory in a campaign that relied heavily on explicitly homophobic and anti-Semitic rhetoric and that continually described Trzaskowski and his supporters as representing “foreign interests”, the soul-searching was deep – and painful.
“We have deluded ourselves – we just assumed that Poland was a western country, but we did not do what was necessary to make it a western country,” said Graff.
“We still have an authoritarian school system, and moral values are dominated by the Catholic Church, which is also authoritarian. So why are we surprised when our policy is also authoritarian? “