Hysteria is gripping Polish public life with outlandish statements and claims.
Adam Michnik, the editor of daily “Gazeta Wyborcza” interviewed in “Foreign Policy” says he fears for his security. The Solidarity legend Lech Wałęsa mutters dark thoughts about civil war if the current government stays in power. And the leader of the Polish Judges Association (IUSTITIA) accuses the present government of wanting “bloody revenge” and becoming like Turkey.
Michnik fears a police raid
Adam Michnik said “Anything could happen. They (government-ed.) could send the militia (allusion to the communist police which has not existed in Poland since 1990) to our paper’s HQ. I might find drugs in my apartment and the next day the police might come and find them.” Mr Michnik does not provide any evidence for his speculation. No police raids on him or his paper have taken place.
This outburst followed allegations made by the deputy editor of “Gazeta Wyborcza” that the paper is being pursued with several legal cases which the paper is now finding difficult to keep up with. The cases in question are civil actions by state companies or institutions disputing what the paper has written about them.
Wałęsa talks of civil war
The former President and Solidarity leader Lech Wałęsa has complained about the lack of patriotism of the voters. He went on to say that he has warned that should the present government win then “it will all end in a civil war. How bloody I don’t know”.
Mr Wałęsa blames the present government for the emergence of allegations, well documented, about his past in the 1970s. The documentation uncovered by the Institute of National Remembrance (IPN) shows that MR Wałęsa was an informer of the secret police during that period.
Judges join in
A prominent young judge Igor Tuleya in a social media post compared the actions of the present government on judicial reform to that of Feliks Dzierzhynski, a Soviet secret police chief responsible for mass repression after the Russian revolution. He was making a comparison between that and the disciplinary hearings that have been held by the National Judicial Council.
It is rather doubtful whether in Soviet times he would have been able to make such a statement.
As dramatic were the remarks made by the chief of the IUSTITIA association, Prof. Krystian Markiewicz at its conference last week. He accused the ruling party’s politicians of attempting to humiliate and discredit judges. “Have you not had enough of this revenge? What else do you want? The blood of my generation for the sins of our and your fathers? Do you want Turkey here?”
Prof. Markiewicz mentioned Turkey as invited to the association’s Congress was a Turkish judge expelled by the authorities of that country. His comment on the “sins of our and your fathers” was an allusion to the fact that the government has criticised the presence in the legal profession of judges who presided in martial law cases against Solidarity activists in the 1980s.
It looks as if hyperbole is now the order of the day in Poland gripped by election fever. However, editors of serious newspapers, former Presidents and senior judges might reflect on whether they are not descending into hysteria. Poland does not have any political prisoners, violent demonstrations or censorship.
The trouble is that such feverish language can motivate some people to acts which they and many others would regret. President Andrzej Duda and the PM Mateusz Morawiecki has appealed for calmer language to be used in public debate. So far to no avail.