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The politics behind Poland’s border crisis – POLITICO

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WARSAW — Never let crisis go to waste.

There’s little question Poland faces a respectable emergency. Thousands of migrants aiming to come back throughout the border with Belarus have arrange camp within the damp birch forests that mark the frontier between the 2 nations. A reported 9 individuals have died thus far making an attempt to make their manner into the nation, and Polish border guards say there have been greater than 30,000 unlawful makes an attempt to cross the border since August.

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Poland has boosted its safety forces alongside the border, and in a single latest video, dozens of Polish officers could be seen forming a protect barrier to stop migrants who’ve torn down a barbed-wire fence from speeding into the nation. It’s a results of the insurance policies of Belarusian chief Alexander Lukashenko, who’s making an attempt to weaponize hundreds of determined individuals hungering to get into the EU as a manner of punishing the bloc for the sanctions imposed on him and his allies for the brutal crackdown in opposition to pro-democracy protests that adopted final 12 months’s contested presidential election outcomes.

But that doesn’t imply the crisis isn’t coming at an opportune time for Poland’s ruling nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) social gathering.

PiS has been sagging in opinion polls after its toughening of abortion legal guidelines was blamed for the loss of life of a younger lady from septic shock after medical doctors delayed aborting her fetus. Thousands of individuals marched in cities throughout the nation protesting the ruling social gathering, and the insurance policies that stem from its shut alliance with the Roman Catholic Church.

A brand new survey discovered PiS at 32.5 p.c assist — nonetheless the preferred social gathering within the nation, however behind the mixed weight of the 2 main centrist opposition events.

But the border emergency is serving to divert consideration away from the abortion situation, whereas strengthening the social gathering’s enchantment with its core voters, who’re leery of any enhance in immigration. It additionally offers the federal government a useful cudgel with which to bash the opposition.

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Warsaw’s efforts to defend its border have additionally acquired the robust backing of nations and establishments usually in battle with the Polish authorities over perceptions the nation is backsliding on democracy and rule of legislation — starting from the Netherlands to Germany and the European Commission. Commission President Ursula von der Leyen talked to Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki on Monday to precise her solidarity.

Poland’s state-controlled media — which has basically turn into a mouthpiece of PiS — took the lead in hammering the opposition. State TV’s information channel, TVP Info, broadcast materials on Sunday evening titled: “The opposition is supporting migrants and Lukashenko.”

On Monday, it added: “This hybrid war against Poland is being backed by some politicians from the Polish opposition and their media supporters.”

PiS politicians and their allies additionally launched assaults in opposition to their political rivals.

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“ON YOUR KNEES!!!” tweeted Krystyna Pawłowicz, a justice with the Constitutional Tribunal, one of many nation’s high courts, demanding the opposition apologize for its previous skepticism of presidency insurance policies. “APOLOGIZE TO POLES for a UNIFIED ATTACK together with [Russia’s President Vladimir] Putin and Lukashenko on the EASTERN BORDERS OF THE POLISH REPUBLIC … on your knees TRAITORS.”

Although Pawłowicz is among the many authorities’s extra colourful and voluble supporters, she’s a part of a broader entrance that’s seizing on the border scenario to lambaste the opposition.

A difficult place

The downside for opposition events is that they haven’t discovered a manner of addressing the scenario on the border. The authorities’s powerful strategy to securing the border is widespread, however many opposition voters have qualms in regards to the humanitarian features. Some left-wing politicians have been calling for migrants to be admitted into Poland and granted asylum standing, whereas others have been extra cautious however nonetheless leery of supporting PiS’s powerful border coverage.

Several opposition MPs, moved by the humanitarian plight of individuals trapped within the border zone and disadvantaged of shelter, meals and heat in more and more chilly circumstances, have known as for a extra beneficiant coverage. Some even went to the closed border space — a 3-kilometer-wide zone operating alongside the Polish-Belarusian frontier — to attempt to assist migrants.

Donald Tusk, chief of the opposition Civic Platform social gathering, has been extra cautious in his strategy. He’s blasted the federal government for the way in which it’s performed its border insurance policies, however has insisted it’s right in making an attempt to halt the entry of hundreds of undocumented migrants.

“Poland’s borders must be sealed and well protected,” he said in August when the crisis started. But in the identical month, Tusk additionally mentioned: “These are poor people who are looking for their place on Earth,” which has been made into an internet video presently being promoted on state media.

On Monday, Tusk immediately addressed Morawiecki, admonishing him by saying: “Migrants aren’t political gold.”

Deputy Interior Minister Paweł Szefernaker had a one-word response to Tusk: “Scoundrel.”

“We have to thank the opposition for the mass storming of the border by immigrants, after they demanded the reception of migrants and spat on the Border Guards as well as the Polish Army,” tweeted Adam Andruszkiewicz, a PiS MP.

That leaves the opposition in a really tough place. Either it has to drop its criticism of the ruling social gathering and again the federal government’s reward of the army and its efforts to guard the border, or it dangers being accused of treason and of dropping traction with voters fearful about uncontrolled inflows of migrants.

The authorities isn’t letting up.

Parliament is because of maintain a particular session on Tuesday to debate the crisis.

“Tomorrow we’ll see how the ladies and gentlemen from the total opposition behave,” Defense Minister Mariusz Błaszczak said Monday night, including: “They’ll be assessed by the voters.”

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