OSCE election observers were invited by the Polish government

The OSCE election observation mission which praised the good organisation of the election but raised concerns over media bias and discriminatory language towards minorities, was led by Ambassador Jan Petersen.

Ambassador Petersen stressed that the mission was one of 380 OSCE have undertaken and was at the invitation of the Polish government. It praised the organisation of the election but raised concerns over media bias, discriminatory language towards minorities, polarisation, inadequate transparency of parties’ campaign financing and the legal framework for addressing complaints and ensuring free speech.

Jan Petersen said that the full report of the mission would produce a detailed statistical analysis of how the election was covered in the media, the amount as well as the negative and positive coverage given to each party. This analysis, according to the diplomat, showed that the public media was biased and that this violated the legislation which stipulates balanced coverage for public broadcasters.

The ambassador felt that the campaign environment had been hostile towards minorities and highly polarised. He refused to be drawn on a definition of homophobia which the observers identified as an issue in the election.

The diplomat agreed that the legal framework for the election’s supervision through the State Electoral Commission and certification by the Supreme Court was robust, as was the process for fast tracking libel and slander allegations. But he pointed to the fact that the Public Prosecutor is at the same time the Justice Minister which raised concerns whether complaints about the violations of law relating to the election would be impartially assessed.

He noted that Poland’s legislation on defamation which made it a criminal offence in the penal code was potentially restrictive of free speech and freedom of the media. A previous OSCE mission had recommended that this law should be changed.

Asked how Poland compares with other countries in terms of its election practices the diplomat said that observer missions never indulge in comparisons across countries. But they did look at whether the recommendations of previous OSCE missions had been implemented.

See the full interview here.