The government’s strategy to hold a presidential election on 10 May makes a mockery of politics and poses a huge threat to countless individuals. If it goes forward, the election will deal with the last blow to democracy in Poland and throw the nation into a political catastrophe of unprecedented proportions. Nevertheless, it isn’t too late to prevent this folly — and Europe shouldn’t stay silent.
The May election has been hailed as the make-or-break second for Poland. Since 2015, the government has changed the nation to an illiberal democracy. Therefore, the election of a president drawn from positions of the resistance is a game-changer, because they could veto PiS legislation. That is the reason the government is so determined to maintain the vote on the program, despite the increasing number of coronavirus infections and deaths in Poland that threaten to overwhelm the nation’s poorly-equipped health care system. The government’s aim would be to secure Duda’s likely success before it’s too late. If the vote is postponed, then a virus-induced financial crisis is very likely to create resentment of the ruling party and considerably lower his odds of re-election.
Nevertheless, the vote can’t occur without risking people’s lifestyles. At a speech in parliament last Monday, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki confessed the summit of these ailments in Poland will come in May or June. But even when the pandemic fades from the next five months, the acute health risks of a communal exercise on this scale may not.
To run the election as scheduled, the Polish government must start preparations for it today. They will need to reconstruct and train approximately 250,000 members of electoral committees. Local governments are obliged by law to overthrow the election, but they might prove incapable or reluctant to do this if this could endanger the lives of taxpayers. Under a new law that could soon be embraced, the government will run the whole election through postal voting. But this precaution won’t get rid of the critical health risk. Electoral committees might need to be set up to count the votes, while 25,000 postal employees might need to send and pick up the ballots. This will create a huge number of new points of contact between individuals, probably spreading the virus in a time when its own suppression will still be of extreme importance.
The election also increases acute concerns about basic democratic criteria. Most of all, electoral campaigns can’t occur as normal while people parties are illegal. Along with the scenario favors the incumbent, who presents himself as a lively emergency manager. Poles have very little experience with postal voting, as just disabled people were allowed to utilize this method in prior elections. It’s administratively impossible to organize elections over 3 days with no deep danger of electoral fraud.
There’s a simple method to honor the two democratic criteria and people’s lifestyles. The government could announce a pure catastrophe under which elections can’t take place. This state of crisis would initially last for a month however, with the approval of parliament, the government would prolong it for as long as the situation demanded. When the pandemic receded, the government would hold the election in a couple of weeks’ time. Together with the closure of restaurants and schools, widespread bankruptcies, enforced social distancing and massive fines individuals who collect in groups, the state of crisis is already a simple fact of life. However, Kaczyński stays determined to grab the chance to combine his power.
Governments across Europe have created concern with introducing constraints and other emergency measures to fight the outbreak. Really, special executive abilities could be harmful if they stay in place indefinitely. But nations with secure democratic institutions and independent judiciaries will likely include this threat into the liberal order. By comparison, in Poland (and Hungary), in which the government has removed key pillars of the democratic order, the bets of”coronavirus politics” are greater than they are elsewhere.
This isn’t the time for Europe to become hushed. International organizations need to face up to their duties. As an example, the World Health Organisation (WHO) must issue a warning that elections held at the center of the pandemic pose a threat to public health. At the EU level, there should be more than simple expressions of queries from the European Commission. The president of the European Council should urgently set the situation in Poland and Hungary — both of which are subject to this Article 7 process — on the schedule of its leaders’ following videoconference.
At length, European leaders and public government must publicly call upon the authorities in Warsaw to postpone the election with the instruments supplied by the constitution. Sticking to the present schedule isn’t just undemocratic but also immoral. The struggle against the pandemic is a standard European responsibility. The PiS government isn’t just denying the lives of Polish citizens but threatening attempts undertaken by the EU as a whole. In case Duda is re-elected on 10 May, then he’ll develop into a”corona president” — nobody needs to shake his hands.