There are two countries in the EU - at present - whose leaders and governments stand out as imbecilic and racing towards totalitarianism: Hungary and Poland. Both should be ejected from the EU immediately.... but how? It has to be said, their foul governing parties also enjoy majority support of their people - and of course this makes things worse. The phenomenon referred to in States of Mind vlogs could not be more apparent: how democratic process is being used to hijack and weaken core democratic values. Now, once the intolerant bastards are in power, the processes of democracy - in this latest case, an independent judiciary - are being de-fanged and neutralised.
The problem the EU faces is that if Poland is not made to pay a high price for its actions, the forces unravelling democracy across a range of European countries will become further strengthened - and we think here especially of Italy, Austria.. ... and potentially Germany. To remove Poland's voting rights within the EU, the EU requires a unanimous vote of all 28 countries to approve it. This is never going to happen so long as Poland and Hungary support each other and vote against any such resolution (and Poland's governing party's leader, Kaczynski, traveled to Hungary last month to arrange just such a backroom deal wth Orban).
The Polish government (led by the dyed-in-the-wool conservative Catholicism of the (wait for it...) "Law and Justice Party") has just forced the retirement of 27 of the 72 Supreme Counrt judges. As this article from the New York Times makes clear, for years, this right-wing Catholic party "has demonised judges as unreconstructed communists and obstructionists." Judges who are speaking out against the changes have reported being harassed and intimidated. They also say the new law is itself unconstitutional. Make no mistake, this is exactly how fascism takes hold; the judiciary's independence is simply abolished and the government controls the legal process. It is not democracy when the courts are subservient to politicians.
So far, the moves are being met with demonstrations - in this case in more than 60 cities around the country. The problem is - and again this is the issue raised on States of Mind vlogs - populists use the process of democracy in order to get into a position to break the most vulnerable value they can - "fraternity" - since it's not a legal concept and cannot be legally protected. What we are witnessing in Hungary and Poland is how they are weaponising fear for their "cultural purity" as a threat to their freedom and an exclusive, racist, nationalist and nativist form of fraternity. A majority of voters (or at least a sizeable minority) have become radicalised, fearful, small-minded and intolerant and elect the enemies of democracy. This is the "illiberal democracy" that Viktor Orban talks about. Just read the next few paragraphs taken from the NYT's article:
This is what the leader of the Law and Justice Party said.......“In a democracy, the sovereign is the people, their representative in Parliament and, in the Polish case, the elected president,”...... “If we are to have a democratic state of law, no state authority, including the Constitutional Tribunal, can disregard legislation.” Lacking the two-thirds majority needed in Parliament to change the Constitution, the party instead took control of the Constitutional Tribunal. After that, the tribunal approved laws, like those restructuring the courts, that critics have called unconstitutional. (We see here the pretence of respect for democracy when what they really mean is "Once we have an operating majority we can do whatever the fuck we want...).
"The party then gave the Minister of Justice the role of prosecutor general, which had previously been independent, and it took over the National Council of the Judiciary, which is responsible for appointing judges. Parliament also created a new disciplinary chamber that the opposition says would be used to attack judges who displeased the party.
"Waldemar Zurek, a former spokesman for the National Council of the Judiciary and a district court judge in the city of Krakow, has been openly critical of the changes. In response, he says, both he and his family have been subject to intense pressure and abuse, including death threats." We need no reminder here that Trump is seeking now to influence the US Supreme Court in exactly the same way, to ensure he gets the legal decisions he needs to become more intolerant.
"Judge Zurek said he was dismissed as a spokesman for the courts, threatened with disciplinary sanctions over fabricated allegations, and harassed by government agents, including at his home. His financial records were improperly disclosed, he has faced what he calls a trumped-up investigations about a long-ago real-estate transaction, and he has gotten scores of threatening emails and letters. “All those who stand in the way of the minister become public enemies,” he said. “They are spat on.”"
And this, says States of Mind, is why we must not compromise with these people.
As the NYTs article states.. "European officials also announced on Monday that a so-called infringement procedure had been started against Poland, which could result in the matter being referred to the European Court of Justice. The court could declare the judicial overhaul unconstitutional, but it cannot stop it."
Let's see. The future of the EU depends on showing its democratic teeth... and pushing back on these retrograde bastards.
The fight back against the Polish totalitarian impulse must be supported by the EU....