Where is Poland headed?
Marta Lempart (Polish activist), Malgorzata Cyndecka (UiB) and Wojciech Przybylski (Visegrad Insight) in conversation with Iver Ørstavik (Rafto).
Polish voters head for the polls on 10 May amidst a pandemic, legal action by the EU over the government's move to limit judicial independence, steps towards tightening abortion legislation, and concerted efforts to limit LGBT rights.
The issues are many and stakes are high ahead of the presidential elections in one of Europe's most devoutly Catholic and socially conservative countries. The ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party has targeted LGBT rights as an invasive foreign influence that threatens Poland's national identity.
Changes to the judicial system made by the conservative-nationalist PiS makes it possible to sack judges for questioning aspects of PiS’ judicial overhaul, such as the legality of new judicial appointments. The law, dubbed the “muzzle law” by critics, also makes it easier for judges appointed under PiS to determine the next head of Poland’s Supreme Court, which has remained largely independent despite an attempt to purge it in 2018. The European Commission says this pose “clear risks” of political control of court decisions.
Is Poland heading towards a more autocratic society with fewer freedoms for minority groups with the blessing of the majority? How does this threaten the values of the EU and what will mean for a future Europe?
Marta Lempart is a Polish activist and the founder of Polish Women's Strike - a coalition that in 2016 stopped the parliament from introducing a total abortion ban.
Malgorzata Cyndecka is associate professor of law at the University of Bergen. She works on EU/EEA law, state aid regulations, data protection law and competition law.
Wojciech Przybylski is Editor-in-chief of Visegrad Insight and president of board at the Res Publica Foundation. His expertise includes European politics and political culture. Previously, he has been the editor-in-chief of Eurozine - a Vienna based magazine with a European network of cultural journals, and a Polish quarterly Res Publica Nowa. Wojciech also co-authored a book 'Understanding Central Europe’, Routledge 2017.
Iver Ørstavik is a senior advisor at the Rafto Foundation where he works with laureates on a range of subject ranging from Dalit discrimination, via migrants and LGBTIQ rights, to rule of law.