July 23, 2024

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Election Year – Spectacular Legislative Projects in Poland: Most Important Answers – News

Election Year – Spectacular Legislative Projects in Poland: Most Important Answers – News

Ahead of elections in the fall, the Polish government is drawing attention with spectacular-sounding plans: Anyone who disrupts a meeting in a church faces up to three years in prison. A commission to find and remove Russian spies from public life. Warsaw-based SRF Eastern Europe correspondent Sara Novotny has answers to the most pressing questions.

Sarah Novotny

Eastern Europe Correspondent

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Sara Novotny is SRF’s Eastern Europe correspondent. He lives in Warsaw, the capital of Poland. Nowotny has been with Radio SRF since 2014. Previously he worked for “NZZ am Sonntag” and “Der Bund”.

Troublemakers in the Church: Why Does It Need Law?

Young people in particular are turning away from the church in heavily Catholic Poland — and fast. If things continue like this, in about six years the majority of young people will not be practicing Catholicism. Some of these boys still go to church, but they wear rainbow-colored clothes, disrupt masses, shout calls for equality, and carry signs that offend the faithful. It happens frequently in Poland a week ago. And — for the most part — old trade show visitors are shocked.

Thousands of people take part in the annual LGBTQ+ march in Warsaw (June 17, 2023).


Thousands of people take part in the annual LGBTQ+ march in Warsaw (June 17, 2023).

REUTERS/Kacper Pempel

Who still goes to church in Poland?

A lot of people in Poland. For a long time, the church was a place of resistance against communism, and going to church was almost a political act. Even today, even in liberal Warsaw, churches are so full on Sundays that sometimes the doors are open so people from outside can still attend.

What’s the plan for exhibition disruptors?

A person who disturbs a mass meeting can be jailed for up to three years. Someone who only bothers them for up to two years. Now one may say: Judges should not impose such cruel punishments. But the government camp that wants tougher criminal laws can hire lawyers and judges to decide in its favor.

Two men hold a large wooden cross


Even in staunchly Catholic Poland, fewer and fewer young people attend church regularly.


Why is the law coming now?

Because Poland will vote this fall. Whether the Conservatives will stay in power will be seen in a few months. They are closely aligned with the church, want to impose their vision of Poland in every area of ​​life, and cannot be reconciled with the liberal opposition. So conservatives try to mobilize with spectacular laws: Vote for us, and you’ll protect Christianity.

Would such a law really help the government?

She could bring one or the other to a vote – people who agree with her anyway, but wouldn’t have voted. What’s more important, however, is that most of the political projects that are spectacular and make headlines abroad ultimately don’t pan out much in Poland. Let it be because international pressure is working. Let it be because Poland has a strong civil society, because people do not tolerate extremes so easily. The government is far from controlling all the courts – as they come to the streets and in the courts.

Are there other examples of sensational laws?

Yes, a few weeks ago the Polish government announced measures against Russian spies. A commission of parliamentarians from the ruling party should have found Russian spies and barred them from public life for years. Now, there are unlikely to be any Russian spies in Poland, and the commission was read by many as a way to get rid of opposition politicians before elections. After pressure from Polish civil society, the EU and the US, not much remains of the plan.

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