(© picture-alliance/dpa)

  Shift to the right in Poland

  13 Debates

A remark made on the fringes of the Munich Security Conference has led to a diplomatic row. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reacted with outrage to Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki's comment that in addition to the German criminals there were "Polish, Russian, Ukrainian and Jewish perpetrators" during the Nazi era, saying that he would speak to Morawiecki. Is the indignation justified?

Roughly 60,000 people took part in a demonstration in Warsaw on Saturday marking Poland's National Independence Day and organised by far-right nationalists. Many participants carried banners with racist slogans. Interior Minister Mariusz Blaszczak ignored the manifest xenophobia and instead praised the atmosphere at the event. Many commentators, however, voice concern.

Despite all the warnings Poland's ruling PiS party is doggedly pursuing its controversial judicial reforms. The EU Commission has responded in kind and initiated another infringement proceeding. Some commentators see this as the right move to prevent further dismantling of democracy; for others this is inadmissible interference from abroad.

At a commemorative ceremony at Auschwitz, Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydło said that the former Nazi concentration camp was "a great lesson" showing that "everything must be done to defend the safety and the lives of citizens". Critics accuse her of using the event to promote her government's anti-refugee policy. How do media in Poland and Germany view the incident?

Poland's national-conservative PiS government has been in power for one year. Under its leadership a series of laws reforming state institutions have been passed and the EU has launched legal proceedings against the country. Plans to introduce a total ban on abortion were dropped in the wake of protests, however. Taking stock of the PiS government's performance over the past year, commentators are as divided as the country itself.

In the wake of mass protests in Poland the country's parliament has spoken out against a bill for a total ban on abortion. The PiS majority government had previously supported the bill. Conservative Polish media vent their anger at the government's betrayal. Others are relieved that the pressure from the street has won out in the end.

240,000 people protested in Warsaw on Saturday against the national-conservative PiS government. For some commentators the demonstration is a historic mobilisation that demands a response from Europe. Others say the protests are not widely supported by the Polish people.

Poland's Bishops and Prime Minister Beata Szydło have lent their support to a petition for a referendum on a general ban on the termination of pregnancies. Thousands of people demonstrated on Sunday against a reform that would toughen Poland's abortion law, already the most restrictive in Europe. The press is also at odds over the issue.

The battle lines have been drawn between the EU and Poland in the dispute over the reform of Poland's Constitutional Tribunal. The EU has now sent a letter to Warsaw expressing its concerns about the rule of law. The Commission launched a probe into the rule of law in a member state for the first time in mid-January. Will the conflict with Warsaw escalate?

Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydło has defended the reform of Poland's Constitutional Tribunal and the new media law before the EU Parliament. Some commentators praise the atmosphere of respect in Strasbourg. Others warn Poland against following in the footsteps of illiberal democracies.

The EU is examining the options for taking steps against the media reform passed in Poland at the end of the year that gives the government more influence in public broadcasting. The Union is right to put the national-conservative government in its place, some commentators say. Others find Brussels' finger-wagging counterproductive.

Replacement of top intelligence officials, a reform of the public media and the disempowerment of the Constitutional Court - the European Commission is reacting to the Polish government's reforms of state structures and launching a probe into whether they conform to the rule of law. Is pressure from Brussels the right response?