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Why so glum?
Why so glum?
Marek Beylin

WARSAW — Poland's ruling Law and Justice party (PiS) won last weekend's parliamentary elections. So why was longtime party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski so obviously glum during his victory speech?

The first answer is in the performance of other Polish political parties: combined, the three main blocks of the democratic opposition received more votes in total than the conservative forces of PiS. This outcome is the clearest sign that Kaczynski's plans to cement total political control over the country will be harder to achieve than he hoped.

The PiS victory is there, but it is not a crushing one.

Since 2015, PiS has had a majority in both the lower house of parliament (Sejm) and the upper house (Senate). Since 2005, all of Poland's presidents have also come from PiS — including the current one, Andrzej Duda. But Sunday's parliamentary elections have changed the equation. True, PiS retained its majority in the Sejm. But While Kaczynski was dreaming of destroying The Polish People's Party, its primary opponent, even those parties who reached only 8% are talking about success ... The PiS victory is there, but it is not a crushing one.

Moreover, PiS failed to take the majority in the Senate, which means that essential staff changes will be impossible without the approval of the united opposition. The new Senate may also publicly criticize any unlawful activities of PiS, which will further weaken the party.

Opening ballot boxes in Lubin, Poland on Oct. 13 — Photo: Piotr Twardysko-Wierzbicki/ZUMA

But the real reason Jaroslaw Kaczynski may have been so gloomy the day after is that his party's drop in support came despite powerful propaganda in state media and support from the always influential Catholic Church hierarchy — and may mean PiS could lose the presidency when voters return to the polls to choose the head of state in May.

No doubt, PiS will spend the next six months doing everything it can to weaken the opposition. With the new campaign already up and running, PiS promised further benefits to citizens and tougher pressure on opponents. PiS will use the courts, free media, and local governments. It will intensify propaganda attacks on elites, minorities, and political opponents. It will convince the public that there are enemies of Poland in the foreign service.

The hope it that it will all backfire.

It will be a campaign of political violence, which is increasingly likely to spill over onto the streets, as PiS will intensify hateful attacks against its opponents. Kaczynski's party will count on the fact the European Union will probably be paying less attention to its acts of authoritarianism.

The hope is that it will all backfire — that PiS's radical actions will mobilize opponents rather than intimidate them into passivity.

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Geopolitics

New Probe Finds Pro-Bolsonaro Fake News Dominated Social Media Through Campaign

Ahead of Brazil's national elections Sunday, the most interacted-with posts on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Telegram and WhatsApp contradict trustworthy information about the public’s voting intentions.

Jair Bolsonaro bogus claims perform well online

Cris Faga/ZUMA
Laura Scofield and Matheus Santino

SÂO PAULO — If you only got your news from social media, you might be mistaken for thinking that Jair Bolsonaro is leading the polls for Brazil’s upcoming presidential elections, which will take place this Sunday. Such a view flies in the face of what most of the polling institutes registered with the Superior Electoral Court indicate.

An exclusive investigation by the Brazilian investigative journalism agency Agência Pública has revealed how the most interacted-with and shared posts in Brazil on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Telegram and WhatsApp share data and polls that suggest victory is certain for the incumbent Bolsonaro, as well as propagating conspiracy theories based on false allegations that research institutes carrying out polling have been bribed by Bolsonaro’s main rival, former president Luís Inácio Lula da Silva, or by his party, the Workers’ Party.

Agência Pública’s reporters analyzed the most-shared posts containing the phrase “pesquisa eleitoral” [electoral polls] in the period between the official start of the campaigning period, on August 16, to September 6. The analysis revealed that the most interacted-with and shared posts on social media spread false information or predicted victory for Jair Bolsonaro.

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