…clearly the electoral campaign has started.
Friday morning I am up, open my computer, turn on Facebook to see how our blog project #Gimme5EUblogs looks like. I am happy to see there are almost 400 followers of the page in a week. Nice.
I am back to Warsaw from Brussels, where we launched the project the day before. The following day I hit the road again. One coffee is not enough to open my eyes… Then I see this:The campaign is on.
Here is what the ad says: “Potentially world conflict is closer and closer and the Poles are unarmed… Occupation of Poland would be super easy. Read more…”
Before I read more, I am interested why do I see this add. I ask to see more, here is the answer, which is a screen shot from Facebook. Partia Wolność wants to reach men who can bear arms (aged 21-55) who live in Poland. The screen-shot:
There is a part of me who is appalled. If I am the target of their campaign, a campaign calling on people to want to bear arms.
Another sip of coffee and a perspective kicks-in: no way Poles will buy it. Well, we shall see.
Who is Partia Wolność?
All of the ultra-far-right united in elections for the European Parliament smile at me from a poster on their website. I shall not give you the link, you can find them yourselves, if you are interested: the National Movement of MP Winnicki, Partia Wolność of Janusz Korwin-Mikke (former MEP), Grzegorz Braun (a monarchist, who compares EU to the Soviet Union, former candidate for the state presidency with 0,83% support in 2015).
Partia Wolność is a new name for the activity of Janusz Korwin-Mikke. The party has 2 MEPs currently, who can be described as back-bencher MEPs. One is in ENF, another one is non-attached. Not that it matters much for the Euro-politics. It matters in the sense of the financial support for the reactive forces in Poland to run their campaigns.
Some Facebook figures: 194k people follow the Partia Wolność page on FB. Minister Andruszkiewicz who competes with Partia Wolność for Law and Justice, wins: 212k FB followers. His star on the far-right shines!
To put things in perspective: Robert Biedroń, leader of a new party on the left-side of the political spectrum, has 495k FB followers. President Andrzej Duda has 628k FB followers – all of them are or have been using Facebook in their political campaigns. Jarosław Kaczyński does not have a page.
It seems despite calls for death penalty reintroduction and now a new campaign to allow Poles to bear arms, the Law and Justice keeps an upper hand. Let’s see how long their alliance with the ultra-right continues.
The link leads to an article written by the 28-year old Jakub Kulesza, MP of Partia Wolność in Najwyższy Czas paper (It’s the High Time). The author argues in favour of massive bearing arms. He is arguing Poland is vulnerable because the population does not bear arms. There are so many instabilities around the world: Russian intervention in the Kerch Strait, the Chinese-American trade wars… Mr Kulesza: “With the level of disarmament the occupation of our country would be child’s play, because Poles, despite their heroic mentality, would not have any tools to make the occupant’s life difficult”.
And there is Switzerland. The world points to America to proof that guns are bad, while the Swiss do not have crime and there are guns in Schweiz, says the author. Intrigued with the argument, I’ve consulted Mr. Google. Here’s what came out: A Swiss article about bearing arms. It basically says this: yes, there are guns in Switzerland, but the Swiss heavily regulate bearing arms. There is, however, wrong perception: that the Swiss are thought to be gun-bearing but gun-incidents-free. That is false. There are relatively fewer guns in la Suisse then in the US, but there are fewer accidents than in the US. There are, however, relatively more guns in la Suisse than most of Europe and relatively more incidents with the use of guns. Data after GunPolicy.org in 2018: US has 120.5 guns per 100 people, Switzerland 41.28, while Germany 32 and Poland 2.5. And the data for gun deaths per 100,000? US is first with 11.98, Switzerland with 7.4, Germany follow with 1.01 and Poland 0.24. Somehow the data Mr. Kulesza, member of the Polish parliament, uses does not add up.
Than there is the Romanian argument: a country with no guns and plenty of crime. At least this is what Mr. Kulesza says. Data of GunPolicy.org says otherwise: Romanians have as many guns as Poles (2.5 in Poland, 2.6 in Romania per 100 people) but commit fewer crimes with their weapons (0.24 gun deaths in Poland compared to 0.12 in Romania per 100,000 people). Somehow there is something racist in saying there is a high gun crime in Romania. Even Wikipedia says “Another peculiarity of Romania is that gun violence is exceptionally rare”, and this is a source most popular to check for data.
MP Kulesza finishes his article with a statement that “there is not much more time left” and we need to get weapons. Well, it all sounds like a poor NRA-inspired leaflet than a serious argument, at the end of the day.
Only that, they are running for office. And Gdańsk mayor was just murdered a week ago. Imagine for a moment what would happen if the Gdańsk murderer had a gun in his hand.
When it comes to imagining I prefer to imagine something else.
There should be no room for the ultra-right on the Polish political scene. There should be no room for fake news. There should be no room for ignorance. Imagine a perfect democracy. To paraphrase Popper: if you are a democrat, you cannot tolerate the non-democratic forces. The flirting with ultra-right-wingers that PiS does is beyond democratic imagination: this is flirting with fire.
Karl Popper: In order to maintain a tolerant society, the society must be intolerant of intolerance (1945)
There is only one way to show the ultra-right-wing where they belong: out of the European Parliament and out of the Sejm. Two elections in 2019. Twice a red card.
I could hope one day there is an institution in Poland that does what the German Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV) does.