Thursday, February 02, 2006

Unstable stability pact means no election - yet


Extraordinary scenes today as two populist parties sign a pact with the Law and Justice (PiS) government, and the mainstream media boycott the press conference.

After the election two minority parties must have dreamed of forming a coalition with PiS and having nice little jobs in the executive. Or they could force the government into an early election. And then their opinion poll ratings took a dive and it’s no longer in both parties’ interest to have an election. Radio Polonia reports:

The ruling conservative Law and Justice party has signed a stabilization pact with two opposition groups – the far-left Self-Defence and the nationalist Leaque of Polish Families. Law and Justice leader JarosÅ‚aw Kaczynski has said the agreement ends the parliamentary crisis and paves the way for creating the Fourth Republic. The stabilization pact, concluded for an initial period of 12 months, provides for wide-ranging state reforms, including the establishment of a new anti-corruption body and of a special committee to re-examine Poland’s post-communist past. The document is said to include a commitment of the three parties to push over 140 bills through Parliament.

So they have signed a stabilization pact with the government which, effectively, acts as a gagging order. For 12 months they must refrain from criticizing the government, and have signed up to vote for over one hundred different government laws and proposals before they have even seen the final version of those laws and proposals.

When PiS originally offered them a pact it was only for six months, and they rejecting the offer, trying to call PiS's king deal maker, Jaroslaw Kaczynski's bluff (photo). But as PiS’s poll ratings got stronger, Kaczynski was able to force a one year agreement. The alternative was to go to the electorate – and that’s last thing Self defense (Sb) and League of Polish Families (LPR) wanted.

But PiS is not the only political force to see its stocks rise. The nationalist, catholic voice can now be heard deep within the government. PiS offered the ultra-catholic Radio Maryja (17% audience share?) and its televisual equivalant TV Trwam exclusive coverage of the signing of the pact. One government spokesman said that, “There are unreliable media [everyone but Maryja] and reliable media [Maryja]'. Period.

So incensed were public and private TV, radio and print journalists that they boycotted the press conference afterwards.

The government has effectively declared war on the media in Poland. Kaczynski said that the action of the media was ‘rude’ and they would have to 'take the consequences.'

Spooky!

They are also packing the new TV and Radio Council, which oversees media in Poland, grants licenses, etc, with their members, and reps from Sb and LPR.

So things are going to be interesting. It’s all starting to resemble a George Orwell novel.

But how long will the leaders of left-nationalist Sb – Andrzej Lepper - and the ultra-catholic LPR – Roman Giertych – be able to keep their mouths shut? Both are not known for their quiet and sensitive personalities. Both are in the habit of criticizing the government.

So how long has a stability pact got when the media are looking for blood, and two of the participants are volatile populists?

Answers on a postcard, please, to the usual address.

I have justed noticed that the wiki article on Radio Maryja is a contested one. This means that as soon as someone, say a anti-Maryja edits it, Radio maryja comes on and re-edits back in their favour. It's great stuff - read here.

11 comments:

Michael Farris said...

I give it a month or so. Lepper's whole shtick is based on bashing the government, if he doesn't he'll lose his base (such as it is).

StefanMichnik said...

To my understanding there is a kind of “cultural war” going on. “Enlightened” hate those “back warded” because RM broke the long lasting monopoly of liberal (in the American sense of the word) media (this is rather international phenomenon that media are rather left – wing leaning) and that is why it is under constant attack from the mainstream.

The remark about unreliable and reliable media was not made by any government spokesman but a party member (PiS). To a certain degree that’s true as it is easy to prove that mainstream media are not being objective and journalists don’t refrain from showing their preferences.

beatroot said...

The world media is left-leaning? Really? Have you ever had the chance to watch Fox News? Or maybe you should tune in to virtually any American talk radio station and here the hegenomy is far-right lunatics who hosts the shows?

PiS must be nuts to alienate the media as they are doing. They are going to need some help in prtesenting their policies over the next few weeks and now they have garaunteed that they will not a get fair coverage.

This is indeed one weird country.

beatroot said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Michael Farris said...

I reccommend TV Trwam news to my students to have some idea of what Polish TV was like in the communist period.

Gustav said...

Stefan

this is rather international phenomenon that media are rather left – wing leaning

Yes, with those bleeding-heart liberal owners like Rupert Murdoch running them...

The only international phenomenon here is that you've officially borrowed the typical US neo-con accusation in your defense of this Polish neo-con government.

Really, this is a thoroghly ridiculous argument. The media are not on a left-wing mission. The left caught plenty of heat from the media when it was governing - much to the delight of opposition parties like PiS at the time. Where was your criticism of mainstream media then?

Media acts as a check to those in power. It criticizes and points out faults, so that errors can be remedied, and so that people can remain free. The press always questions authority, and it always should.

Can you deny the criticisms the media have made against this government?

On the other hand, will you condemn anti-semetic statements made on Radio Maryja?

So which media is really the responsible one?

Beatroot -

Though US conservatives use the word "liberal media" every time they turn around, they usually don't mean the term too literally, as most of them only pay any attention to the very media you mentioned.

What they really mean is main-stream news outlets. While Fox News indeed claims to be one of these, conservative talk radio is not - It is opinoin.

What they really mean is the television news programs, and especially newspapers - more or less the New York Times and the Washington Post. Since these papers have more liberal editorials than conservative ones, and because they have a national audience, this is 90% of the great liberal-media conspiracy.

Of course, what they fail to mention is that both newspapers have local and national conservative competition. These newspapers have risen to prominence on their journalism, not on their ideology.

So, is Nasz Dziennik really that well known for its journalistic integrity Stefan?

beatroot said...

I will lend you a book called What liberal bias by some Washignton Post guy I think (liberal media) and he argues that because the main media that people get most of their news from is things like talk shows...so they are as powerful as NYT etc...

Gustav said...

To the question: What liberal media?

This site answers: That liberal media! (click on one of the archives, there seems to be nothing on the index page for some reason)

It's good for plenty of laughs

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