Poland challenges European identity
I am writing this from a hotel room in Warsaw, surrounded by memorials to Frederic Chopin, the great Polish composer and champion of self-determination for the Polish people. This is a particularly appropriate time to be here, since Poland is locked in a battle with the European Union over the question of Polish national self-determination – more than two centuries after Chopin was born.
The issue comes down to this: Poland elected a government that pledged to change the direction in which the country was moving. The new government was of the right. It opposed the policies and institutional stance of the previous, left-of-centre government. The previous government had embedded its followers in various institutions, such as the courts and national radio, as governments tend to do. The new government saw itself as facing a hostile judiciary and state-owned media. And so it sought to change the management of the state-owned media and “reform” (in its terms) the judiciary.
When it tried to change personnel in both institutions, the opposition charged that these actions violated the constitution, that the government had overstepped its bounds and that it was trying to repress critics. The government countered that the opposition was trying to thwart the new government from ruling. It had been elected by a substantial majority, and it had clearly expressed its policies during the elections.