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The Polish Politics of Confusion – The First Fragment: The Population’s Trust

On the 4th of January the Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, a member of the right-wing political party PiS, held a Q and A session on Facebook, where he answered some questions regarding the government’s plans for 2021. He spoke about, what he referred to as, the ‘new polish order’, which revolved around ‘beating the pandemic in the next two, four, five months and then rising again through kick-starting investments and putting more money into the development of the economy including gastronomy and services’ (mjz/tr, 2021). Some received this speech as a reassurance, yet a vast majority approached the statement with scepticism and mistrust, caused mainly by the fact that throughout 2020 the government has often released numerous statements, which later turned out to be untrue, reversed, forgotten or held some hidden agendas, and did not, in the end, have any benefit to the society at all.

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This type of behaviour of releasing confusing or vague claims to the public realm has been a strategy taken by the government for quite some time, but truly came to light this year when, more so than ever, the society, which found itself in a precarious environment, looked to the ruling party for support and help. The effects of these actions were in some cases mild, like when the government prohibited to go outdoors on the evening of New Years (Berenda 2020). Upon hearing the news, many rose to protest against, not only the fact that forbidding the freedom of movement is an act of breaking a constitutional right (BusinessInsider, 2020), but also against the fact that they saw the prohibition as a contradiction to the statements made by Mateusz Morawiecki himself, as he claimed that Poland has already managed to overcome the spread of the virus and ‘win the battle with the pandemic’ (Kublik, 2020). In addition to that, many of those involved in the strike expressed their confusion about the fact that, less than two months ago, the Prime Minister himself stated that ‘the government is not there to tell people how to live’ (Zygiel, 2020). The government immediately retracted the word “prohibition”, which only sparked more misunderstanding, but the debate was quickly settled.

In other cases, however, the confounding actions of the government have caused a severe strain. One example includes the way the government remained vague about whose interest they are actually supporting when they hinted at, but never actually introduced, the state of emergency in Poland in relation to the pandemic, as this would mean that many individuals and businesses would be entitled to claim financial support, which the ruling party prefers to avoid to pay out (KBB, 2020). It left many struggling for money and trying to make ends meet in one lockdown after another with no clear direction, game plan or support. This was further exacerbated by their threat to veto the EU budget for 2021, which, if done, would have caused irreversible damage to the Polish economy.

It is no surprise that the politics of confusion caused damaged to the population’s trust. The Poles find themselves in a difficult situation. Who can truly help them recover in 2021? This question remains unanswered.

Sources

Berenda, K., 2020. Zakaz Wychodzenia Z Domu W Sylwestra: Będą Wyjątki. [online] Rmf24.pl. Available at: <https://www.rmf24.pl/raporty/raport-koronawirus-z-chin/polska/news-zakaz-wychodzenia-z-domu-w-sylwestra-beda-wyjatki,nId,4935109> [Accessed 5 January 2021].

BusinessInsider, 2020. Koronawirus Wymusi Stan Nadzwyczajny? To Oznaczałoby Daleko Idące Ograniczenie Praw I Wolności. [online] Business Insider. Available at: <https://businessinsider.com.pl/firmy/przepisy/koronawirus-w-polsce-stan-wyjatkowy-i-stan-kleski-zywiolowej-ograniczenia/gsh3bz3> [Accessed 5 January 2021].

Kublik, A., 2020. Wyborcza.Pl. [online] Wyborcza.pl. Available at: <https://wyborcza.pl/7,75398,26562356,tak-wladza-bagatelizowala-pandemie-i-chwalila-sie-nikt-nam.html?disableRedirects=true> [Accessed 5 January 2021].

KBB, 2020. Co Rząd Zrobi Z Pandemią? Zdaniem Politologa Protesty Ograniczyły Pulę Możliwych Rozwiązań. [online] www.money.pl. Available at: <https://www.money.pl/gospodarka/co-rzad-zrobi-z-pandemia-protesty-ograniczyly-pule-mozliwych-rozwiazan-6569884927437504a.html> [Accessed 5 January 2021].

mjz/tr, 2021. Premier Zapowiada “Nowy Polski Ład” Na Czas “Popandemicznej Normalności”. [online] TVN24. Available at: <https://tvn24.pl/polska/koronawirus-w-polsce-premier-mateusz-morawiecki-zapowiada-nowy-polski-lad-4920587> [Accessed 5 January 2021].

Zygiel, A., 2020. Morawiecki: Wierzyliśmy, Że Pandemia Jest W Odwrocie. Ja Tak Wierzyłem. [online] Rmf24.pl. Available at: <https://www.rmf24.pl/raporty/raport-koronawirus-z-chin/polska/news-morawiecki-wierzylismy-ze-pandemia-jest-w-odwrocie-ja-tak-wi,nId,4856657> [Accessed 5 January 2021].

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