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The Politics of Confusion – The Third Fragment: Creating a Spectacle

It is not a secret that the world of politics, with all its intrinsic networks, complex rules, and unspoken connections, is a difficult environment to understand. It would thus seem, based on the oath of office, that the responsibility of politicians is to handle this compound world in the most honest and constructive way in order to ensure the sustainable well-being of the state. In Poland, however, this obligation is far from being met. With time passing and intensified political turmoil, increasingly more ‘politics’ focus on inter-personal attacks, private acts of revenge, or corruption scandals, which flood the news allowing the politicians to grab society’s attention without the need to present any constructive effects of their work. What ensues is an extensive amount of useless, yet chaotic information, which makes the world of politics seem even more complex and the average citizen feel even more overwhelmed and thus becomes passive and submissive, which has huge consequences on the future of the Polish democracy.

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At the beginning of April, two seemingly very important interviews were published. One with Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the leader of the right-wing PiS party, and one with Jaroslaw Gowin, the leader of ‘Porozumienie’ (Agreement), which is a member of the United Right, ruling coalition. The phrase ‘seemingly important’ is used consciously here as, despite the fact that the country is dealing with a lot of domestic and global issues right now such as the Covid Pandemic, coal dependency reforms, The Reconstruction Fund (Fundusz Odbudowy) (Kolanko, 2021) or the issues within health and labour sectors, the interviews focused mainly on the politicians taking hits at each other and the opposition rather than giving any graspable plans for the short and long term future of the country. Mr. Kaczynski made public claims that ‘[the right-wing coalition] is based on the relationship between people, which can at one point break’ and that the opposition ‘is the cancer that grew on the healthy polish tissue (tvn24, 2021), while Gowin blamed PiS for disagreements in his own party ‘Porozumienie’ (Burzynska, Stankiewicz, 2021). Both interviews, were very passive-aggressive, revealing some incomprehensible and vague personal vendetta’s, but they truly highlight the narrative, which is currently being used throughout the entire political scene, and the quality of information that is being delivered to the general public. For they are not isolated examples…

The leader of the United Poland Party (Zjednoczona Polska) Zbigniew Ziobro made a derogatory comment about the work of Minister of Culture, Piotr Glinski (Szczęśniak, 2021), the chairman of the national television ridiculed the former minister of national defence (stan bo burzy), the representative of the European Parliament, Miller, calls the current leader of his former political party SLD ‘an immature fool’ (Mazurek, 2021) and so on. The list is endless and it includes examples of fights between the ruling party and the opposition, but also between members of the same party or the same coalition. What is furthermore deductible is that, unlike in a good debate, the opposing sides do not merely comment critically about their contending ideologies, but make very personal remarks. This can be clearly demonstrated by the examples of language used, including phrases such as ‘boorish mob’, ‘criminals’ or ‘a psychiatric ward’ used to describe the ruling party as well as the opposition (Polityka, 2020).

These personal conflicts, however, have additional, more far-reaching consequences firstly because they seep through important decision-making mechanisms and secondly because their hidden complexity is often used to manipulate the general public and thus have an electoral effect. The former is exemplified by the recent decision of the Constitutional Tribunal to not allow the current Advocate for Human Rights, Adam Bodnar to continue to serve until another candidate is elected (Wądołowska, 2021). The Tribunal is a politicized institution under the rule of Julia Przyłębska, who works very closely with the leader of PiS, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, who disliked Bodnar for his stance on abortion and his attempt to block Orlen from buying Polska Press (Orlen is owned by Daniel Obajtek, a close friend of Kaczynski) (Burzynska, Stankiewicz, 2021). As a consequence of a personal dislike, the general public is deprived of an independent public servant and is likely to face an election of a PiS affiliated candidate Bartlomiej Wroblewski, whose agenda is not objectively safeguarding of universal human rights (Szwalikowska, 2021).

Steering public opinion for voting purposes is not a new trick in the political book. Winning an election is the agenda of almost every politician. However, what is often masked in the eyes of society is that some politicians strive to win an election in order to prove their dominance over another candidate and use cunning methods to direct the public discourse. False or exaggerated narratives outlive the political quarrel and remain in the society’s memory causing a chain of adverse reactions and effects (Wang, Huang, 2020). A recent example of that can be seen in an indirect, but nevertheless cold and tense relationship between the chairman of National Television, Jacek Kurski, and the Prime Minister, Mateusz Morawiecki. The former on multiple occasions used his control of the public media in order to accuse the latter of damaging Andrzej Duda’s presidential campaign, financially supporting the anti-governmental press, or contributing to the blockage of correspondence election, which the PiS party unsuccessfully organised last year (Gajcy, 2020). Kurski additionally refused to give the Prime Minister any air time and has recently caused a commotion in the government itself by releasing a news story, which accused Morawiecki’s ‘right hand’ Pawel Borys, the Leader of the Polish Development Fund, of using EU’s Covid support funds to help an underground prostitution business (Dziubka, 2021). Although some politicians attempted to clear Borys’s name, the story has already spread and Morawiecki’s public support sank (note: for which Kurki’s story is not the sole cause) (IBRiS, 2021). The true reason for Kurski’s behaviour can only be speculated about and it is guessed to be his own desire to take on the role of Prime Minister (Wrzesiński, 2021). Yet, the reason may also lie, like in so many other cases, in certain, hidden, underlying long-term issues, which will never be fully lucid, but create confusion and mistrust between the general public, the media, and the politicians.

According to Marek Sawicki, a member of the Polskie Stronnictwo Ludowe Party, politics should be currently more focused on realistic unions and agreements, which can bring constructive educational, health-care and industrial reforms in a post-Covid Poland (Mazurek, Sawicki, 2021) and creating tense relationships and publicizing them can be compared to a theatrical play, with a lot of spectacles and little substance, which is not what the country needs at the moment. The real question, however, is: do politicians truly want to establish some sort of mature method of communicating, where disagreements are based on an exchange of well-researched and valid opinions, which are to serve to general well-being? Or have they become already too comfortable in their own show?

 

Sources

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