Poland is changing the government. Column by Vitaliy Portnykov
The first session of Poland's new Sejm demonstrated that the country will have a new effective government, created by opposition parties that have united to put an end to the longstanding rule of right-wing populists from the Law and Justice party
The very first decision of the new Sejm, the election of its speaker, demonstrated that the former opposition forces, which we can now call the future ruling parties of Poland, have the necessary majority to form a new government, as they argued in their appeal to Polish President Andrzej Duda. Duda, a former Law and Justice party official who is now believed to be thinking not only about the last years of his presidency but also about leading the right-wing forces after he leaves office, has entrusted Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki with the task of forming a government.
However, this is a purely ceremonial step that will allow Law and Justice to, first, launch a campaign for local elections as the dominant party, and, second, make decisions on the staffing of important state institutions, such as financial control bodies, which will preserve the influence of this political formation on government affairs even after Jaroslaw Kaczynski's party moves to the opposition.
The change of power in Poland is fundamentally important both for the country's role in the European Union and for Polish-Ukrainian relations. This is important primarily because Ukraine's real European integration is only possible in a situation where this integration is jointly supported by such important EU countries as Poland and Germany. Meanwhile, the Law and Justice party has done everything possible and impossible to tarnish Polish-German relations, which ultimately became the engine of Poland's own European integration. Even today, on the first day of the Sejm's work, the leader of the Law and Justice party, the irrepressible Jaroslaw Kaczynski, who is obviously already in a fresh election mode, spoke about the German antics of the Civic Platform party, which is led by Donald Tusk, one of the most respected Polish politicians in Europe.
Without such an understanding between Poland and Germany, Ukraine will face serious problems on its European path, as will Poland itself. We are well aware that many of the legal acts adopted by the Law and Justice party did not contribute to the development and success of the neighboring country, and Ukrainians are interested in such development and success, in a democratic liberal, not populist, government in Poland. Ukrainians are well aware of what populism is, and they can share some rather sad and even tragic experiences with their Polish neighbors. But why would Poles share this experience of populism with Ukrainians?
Also quite important for Polish-Ukrainian relations is the fact that the complex issues of our bilateral relations will now be resolved not by blackmail, the favorite political language of the Polish right, but by serious, competent dialogue. The most important word here is competent. Let's hope that Polish competence will give rise to Ukrainian competence in the future, in particular when Ukrainian voters come to the presidential and parliamentary elections in Ukraine.
The education of the Polish voter will now also take place on Polish soil, because hundreds of thousands of our compatriots live there, and their vote should be a guarantee that populist and future Russian-oriented forces in Ukraine itself will suffer a shameful defeat in the presidential and parliamentary elections, to ensure that Ukraine never repeats the events that brought our country to the brink of failure, for example, during the time of former traitor President Viktor Yanukovych and even when the issue of post-Maidan rematch was being resolved.
We can see how important this serious, competent dialog is, at least by what we have seen in recent months in connection with the protests of Polish farmers or carriers. Of course, in Poland, as in every country, there is a serious force associated with trying to prevent competition with Ukraine, even by taking actions that would lead to the collapse of the economy in a neighboring country at war.
However, people always care more about their own pockets than about someone else's collapse. And the ability to find a balance between the demands of these Polish citizens and Poland's objective interest in Ukraine's entry into the common market with the EU is also a great art, which I hope we will be able to demand from the new Polish government.
And finally, the atmosphere in Poland may change. Poland will begin to recover from a long and severe populist illness that almost brought our bilateral relations to a standstill before the war in 2022. The new speaker of the Polish Sejm, the formerly well-known journalist Szymon Hołownia, spoke during his first inaugural speech about the importance of restoring the atmosphere of discussion in the Polish Sejm, which in recent years has been more likely to witness monologue decisions of the former ruling party. And we know that this is relevant not only for Poland but also for Ukraine. He spoke about the importance of the parliament ceasing to be just an institution that fulfills the whims of the executive branch, and we know how important this is not only for Poland. It is important for Ukraine as well.
He spoke about the need for the government to have a real connection with the Polish people, with all of them, with people of different political views and sympathies. And we know how important this is not only for Poland but also for Ukraine. And that is why I would like to congratulate our Polish neighbors on the real victory of democracy and the fact that this victory was not a victory of populists, but of democratic pro-European forces that are truly friendly to Ukraine. Friendly not only because Ukraine is at war with Russia and is protecting Poland, but also because Ukraine is an important neighbor on the continent, a country that provides the possibility of future alliances in central Europe within the European Union.
Poland's new Sejm has started working. In a few months, the right-wing populist government will be gone, and serious work will begin on changes in the Polish state, which must first of all deconstruct populism and build a real healthy European democracy.
About the author. Vitaliy Portnykov, journalist, winner of the Shevchenko National Prize of Ukraine.
The editors do not always share the opinions expressed by the blog authors.