Poland’s victory: can it happen in US?

Poland's increasingly authoritarian government capitulated after days of angry protests and agreed to scrap a proposed law that would have imposed harsh restrictions on the media. The announcement came after thousands marched on the presidential palace Dec. 18, chanting "freedom, equality, democracy." President Andrzej Duda admitted the legislation was too controversial, and tellingly made his announcement after consulting with Jarosław Kaczyński, chairman of his right-populist Law & Justice Party (PiS). Protests even penetrated the parliament chamber Dec. 19, when opposition MPs blockaded the entrance, forcing PiS MPs into another room to vote on next year's budget. The law, which would have placed restrictions on media access in parliament, is part of a growing centralization of power by the PiS government since it came to power in October 2015. The EU this week issued a formal protest of moves to restrict the independence of the judiciary. But this is not the first victory over the PiS regime. In October, the party withdrew plans for a total abortion ban after huge numbers of women dressed in black protested across the country. (The Guardian, Dec. 21; The Guardian, Dec. 19; BBC News, Dec. 18; The News, Poland, Dec. 16)

As with last week's similar victory for a protest campaign in South Korea, we must contrast the situation here in the United States. The Electoral College has now affirmed Trump's victory. In the initial shock after Trump's election, there were around two weeks of near-daily protests in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago and other cities. Then "normalization" set in. Perhaps the false hope that the Electoral College would save us encouraged quietism—although continued street heat conceivably could have swayed a few more electors. Will exhaustion of the last constitutional safeguard reinvigorate protests?

After that we will have a month until the inauguration. Can we use this critical window to do what needs to be done to prevent an actual fascist from taking office?

  1. Poland: direct action gets the goods

    Polish President Andrzej Duda broke with his own party to veto to proposed legislation that threatened to limit the judiciary's independence. The veto came after days of demonstrations across the country to oppose the measures. (BBC News, Jurist)