Poland Protests Against New Government’s Power Grab

Written by Anthony Constantini

What’s happening: Poland is rocked by mass protests against the new government’s arrest of two former cabinet ministers, alongside a “liquidation” of state-owned public broadcasters accused of bias toward the former government.

  • Catch up: Poland’s new coalition government is united only by its dislike of the former populist-right Law & Justice (PiS in Polish) government. PiS, which ruled from 2015 until late 2023, had replaced much of the pro-establishment Polish bureaucracy.

Why it matters: If Poland’s new government is successful in undoing PiS work, it may offer a blueprint to other establishment parties seeking to push populists back across the globe.

Why they’re protesting: Anger has erupted primarily over two actions the government has taken:

  • Arrests: Two former PiS ministers accused of corruption were arrested by police while hiding out in the presidential palace. The former ministers had previously been pardoned by the country’s PiS-allied president, Andrej Duda.

  • State media sacking: Under PiS, public broadcasting had become more supportive of the government. In firing those running it, the new rulers are claiming that they want to make it unbiased again — but not many expect they will hire people who will critique their programs.

It gets crazier: The Polish Supreme Court is split between two chambers: one establishment-friendly, and one PiS-friendly. Both have given conflicting rulings; for example, one found that the two ex-ministers were not correctly pardoned, while the other found that they were.

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