This is Editor of Gazeta Wyborcza Adam Michnik commenting after the arrests of an ex-interior minister, an ex-police chief and an ex-head of the PZU national insurer (see here, here and here) last Thursday.
The Rubicon has been crossed; the Rubicon separating a law-governed democracy from the country of a creeping coup d'etat. There is no longer any doubt - the Kaczyński brothers and their milieu will use whatever means and tricks possible to hide the truth about the grim secrets and to remain in power until the elections….
The opposition are saying that the Polish police force, public prosecutors and secret services are being used to intimidate, harass and gag political opponents.
Michnik – imprisoned for being an anti-communist activist in the 1960s - draws some alarming parallels between the Kaczynski administration and even darker days in Poland.
[…] to arrest political rivals shortly before elections is something new. One is reminded of the 1946-1947 period when the Soviet-imposed communists invalidated electoral registers, imprisoned opposition candidates, and ultimately rigged the elections. After that, until 1989, there were no free elections in Poland.
But I have seen some very scared people in this country in the last two years. And that fear, whatever its justification, has had real effects. It’s not just Michnik who fears opening the door early in the morning and being confronted by men in a black balaclava on backwards, only their eyes peeking through the scary wool ware – as Janusz Kaczmarek was early Thursday morning.
This government believes that a kind of Polish oligarchy grew up with the fall of communism. I think that is partially right. A lot of sticky fingers got their hands in the pie early. It is the same in all ex-communist countries.
But the Kaczinskis go one step further than that. They see an organized conspiracy between ex-Stalinists and the new middle class liberals in the media and in business generally, in the old secret services, judges, constitutional courts….and even in organized crime.
The way the Kaczynskis have gone about breaking up the supposed oligarchy – the uklad – has been to create a parallel universe, the old Polish political tactic of cronyism. Nothing new there: Polish governments have been doing that for years. But they have done it with a zeal that few have seen since…well, back in those darker days.
This has created its own pinball of paranoia throughout the country.
Whatever – the politics of paranoia gets results. The Kaczynskis zeal plays well with many in Poland. It’s basically the new Polish politics of class.
Small traders, rural folk, those in unemployment black spots, who have not done as well as the shiny elites and new middle class, will vote for this type of populism.
The shiny elites and new middle class – often same bunch and children of the old communist elites - despise the government and its allies. And it’s easy to see why.
An election is coming. And after the election not much will change. Poland is now a country rife with good old fashioned class conflict – and when you strip away all the hyperbole and paranoia, that’s just about the long and short of it. An election will not solve that.