Ideas

Polexit Is Path To Dictatorship, A Cry To Keep Poland Free

EU membership is not in line with Poland's values, say the current ruling party. Will that mean Poland's Exit (Polexit) from the European Union? Everything is riding on where the long-serving conservative government of PiS leader Jarosław Kaczyński will do as they run counter to popular opinion on the EU question.

Polexit Is Path To Dictatorship, A Cry To Keep Poland Free

Protest Against Changes In Justice System In Poland

Marek Beylin

-OpEd-

WARSAW — They left it to Julia Przyłębska, President of Poland's Constitutional Tribunal, to state where the ruling Law and Justice party (PiS) stands: the country should no longer be in the European Union since EU values are contrary to the party's rule.

This was the decision reached by this pseudo-Constitutional Tribunal last week, while nearly 90% of the public wants to remain in the EU — according to a recent Ipsos poll for Gazeta Wyborcza and OKO.press. It means that on this fundamental issue in Poland, the PiS is looking to bypass the absolute majority of Poles.

According to the same Ipsos poll, more than half of us fear that the PiS is preparing a Polexit for us. After the decision of the pseudo-CT, this fear is likely to grow.


So if at least some of us, out of this large majority, publicly express our fear and anger, the power of PiS, already shaky, will begin to lose ground even faster. For it is impossible, in the long run, to rule against a majority of voters without openly spreading terror.

Pro EU Demonstration In Krakow, Poland

Beata Zawrzel/ZUMA

Kaczynski's catch-22

This, of course, leaves PiS leader Jarosław Kaczyński facing a historic choice. He can preserve his power in one of two ways: either with concessions and dialogue with the Poles and the EU; or by maintaining the Polexit scenario and escalating the conflict with society. Today, neither Kaczyński nor the rest of the PiS leadership are ready for either of these solutions. But sooner or later, they will have to pick one.

If the PiS chooses Polexit, it will have to use more violence against its own citizens.

If the PiS chooses Polexit, it will have to use more and more violence against its own pro-EU citizens. That would inevitably steer the party towards dictatorship — a bloody yet poor one, lacking EU resources. If the PiS backs off and chooses dialogue, its power is bound to eventually recede; but at least it will not be disgraced by violence and bloodshed, nor be eternally considered as traitors.

The future is still uncertain. But the time of the "dictatorship of immobility" is certainly coming to an end. Because this electroshock and crisis are just beginning, and their results remain impossible to predict. These results depend on us, on whether we take to the streets. The more we stand up for Poland remaining in the EU, the more difficult it will be for the PiS to maintain the path towards Polexit. Because now, finally Kaczyński too has something to fear.

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Society

How The Top Collector Of Chinese Art Evades Censors In New Hong Kong Museum

Swiss businessman Uli Sigg is the most important collector of Chinese contemporary art. In 2012, he gave away most of his collection to the M+ in Hong Kong. Now the museum has opened as the Communist Party is cracking down hard on freedom of expression. So how do you run a museum in the face of widespread censorship from Beijing?

''Rouge 1992'' by Li Shan at the M+ museum

Maximilian Kalkhof

The first test has been passed, Uli Sigg thinks. So far, everything has gone well. His new exhibition has opened, visitors like to come, and — this is the most important thing for the Swiss businessman — everything is on display. He has not had to take an exhibit off the list of works.

The M+ in Hong Kong is a new museum that wants to compete with the established ones. It wants to surpass the MoMa in New York and Centre Pompidou in Paris. Sigg, a rather down-to-earth man, says: “There is no better museum in the whole world.” That is very much self-praise, since Sigg’s own collection is central to the museum.

The only problem is: great art is often political; it questions the rulers. Since the Chinese Communist Party has been cracking down on critics and freedom in Hong Kong, the metropolis is a bad place for politics and art. So how did the collection get there?

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