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Tag: Poland

Unravelling the anti-immigrant discourse in Poland’s 2023 election campaign

In the digital age, with information flowing freely and narratives shaping perceptions, there is less and less hope of arriving at a point at which one objective truth prevails or even exists. This leaves us with the task of understanding discourses surrounding political events and processes. From that vantage point, one may look at the case of immigration to Poland and how it appeared in last year’s electoral campaign.

February 21, 2024 - Maciej Makulski

Reversing the Polish drift to the illiberal path

Poland’s new governing coalition has promised to restore the rule of law after many years of manipulation by its rival Law and Justice. Despite this, the changes made by the previous government have now plunged Poland into a battle between legality and legitimacy.

February 14, 2024 - Kamil Matusiewicz

Ukrainian refugees with HIV adjust to care abroad

Ukraine has the second-largest HIV epidemic in Europe after Russia. Those refugees who fled the full-scale invasion to Poland with HIV have been forced to seek treatment and adjust to different approaches to the disease. In the end, the experience can provide lessons on how to better help those afflicted with the disease.

When Anna Aryabinska fled from Kyiv in March 2022 with her ex-partner’s children, she had little idea that she would end up supporting not only his family, but many HIV-positive Ukrainians in Poland. Until Russia’s full-scale invasion, Aryabinska had been an activist for the Ukrainian organisation Positive Women, supporting women with HIV. Now she is one of a group of volunteers assisting fellow Ukrainian refugees to keep taking medication for HIV, as well as integrate into healthcare systems in European countries which have very different epidemic profiles and standards of treatment.

February 7, 2024 - Lily Hyde

Abortion in Poland: What will Tusk’s new day for women bring?

The new Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk has promised a liberalization of the country’s abortion laws, which are some of the most restrictive on the European continent. His path is a sharp contrast to the previous government’s anti-abortion crackdown. Yet, even as he commits to the issue publicly, the campaign he took to get there reveals that reproductive freedom in Poland remains an issue many lawmakers use only instrumentally.

Hot water, running over a pregnant belly, under beige and purple shower tiles. An orange cat, crawling through the litter box. Only a couple months after abortion doula Wiktoria Szymczak moved to Kraków from Warsaw in 2023, she was helping a stranger end a pregnancy in her apartment bathroom. Earlier in the day, Szymczak had got a call from a client who needed more help than anticipated, who we will call Agata to protect her privacy. Previously, Szymczak had told her how to pursue one of the few legal methods left for obtaining an abortion within the country. It is still legal to go online and order abortion pills for yourself in the mail through a dealer based outside Poland (Szymczak recommends medical non-profits like “Women Help Women”). Agata went online and she bought the pills to end her pregnancy.

February 7, 2024 - Katie Toth

Breathing room: Poland’s minority communities after the elections

For years, minority groups in Poland have been feeling pressure both from the government and society at large. Now with a new governing coalition, there appears to be potential breathing room for many of Poland’s minorities. However, that does not mean that the road ahead is clear or easily navigable.

Poland is often described as a homogenous state – white, Catholic and ethnically Polish. The numbers, at face value, support this idea. This apparent homogeneity is reinforced by the media. Often as a throwaway line when describing Poland’s demographics, or, for more insidious motivations, by those on the far right. This characterization, however, grossly simplifies the story of Poland and its citizenry. Historically, both the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and the Second Polish Republic were heterogeneous states comprising a number of peoples, religions and languages.

February 7, 2024 - Daniel Jarosak

Antisemitism: the foundation of the Polish nation?

The modern Polish nation was ultimately forged out of a union between former Poland-Lithuania’s nobility and Slavophone Catholic peasants. This process of creating ethnic Poles was anything but easy, with antisemitism often used as a means of overcoming the estate chasm between nobles and peasantry.

January 17, 2024 - Tomasz Kamusella

How one border shaped another. Polish volunteers on the parallels in refugee aid

In 2021, thousands of people from the Middle East and North Africa crossed the Belarusian border into EU countries such as Poland. Polish activists who offered support say that emergency prepared them for the next refugee crisis, from Ukraine in 2022. While the Polish state’s approach dramatically shifted between the two situations, NGOs and volunteers leaned on the same skills and resources to help people on the move.

December 15, 2023 - Katie Toth

Migrants on the border (of the Polish imagination)

What makes Poles help Ukrainian refugees yet indifferent to the fate of migrants on the Belarusian border? Is this determined solely by the right-wing propaganda, which portrays the Ukrainians in good terms and those in Belarus in essentially bad ones?

The release of Agnieszka Holland’s film The Green Border (Zielona Granica), which depicts the human drama of people pushed across the Polish-Belarusian border and the helplessness of activists willing to help them – helplessness resulting from the specific political decisions of the Polish authorities – has been met with unprecedented heckling and brutal attacks in Poland. The outrage of the country’s highest-ranking politicians from the United Right coalition was clear.

November 16, 2023 - Piotr Augustyniak

Wind of change

Despite another win for Law and Justice, the three voting blocks of the democratic opposition are most likely to form a coalition government led by Donald Tusk.

October 17, 2023 - Daniel Gleichgewicht

Poland’s future on the ballot in October

When asked what is at stake in the upcoming Polish parliamentary elections, the answer is simple: the future of Poland. Should the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party win a third term, it will complete a process of state capture and set Poland on the path to becoming a fully-fledged autocracy, writes Eugeniusz Smolar in an op-ed for New Eastern Europe.

October 2, 2023 - Eugeniusz Smolar

Poland’s Third Way seeks to break political duopoly

As the Polish electoral campaign enters its most crucial phase, it is already clear there will be a hard fought battle for third place. While dashing any hopes of a unified opposition list against PiS, two party leaders have put their political survival on the line in order to break the Kaczyński-Tusk duopoly. The consequences of this move might not be what they intended.

July 11, 2023 - Daniel Gleichgewicht

Nothing new in the East? The Polish Orientalism

As the most powerful state on the EU and NATO’s Eastern Flank, Poland has been cast in the role of a new regional power in recent months. The country will now allegedly be able to shape developments in Eastern Europe and even farther into the East. However, Warsaw will face a serious challenge to live up to its geopolitical ambitions if it does not rethink its own Orientalism.

May 29, 2023 - Adam Balcer

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