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The absurdity of the debate on Polish democracy – Ryszard Legutko’s speech in PE

14th of December there was a debate in European Parliament about Poland. The main issue was the Constitutional Tribunal in Poland, that, according to the Parliament, works without democratic procedures. Polish government is accused of it. Ryszard Legutko, deputy from PiS, the conservative party that governs Poland currently, explains, why there is no need to talk about Polish issues in the European Parliament nor there is a worry that the democracy in Poland is in trouble. But, as he observes, while the rules of democracy where broken by the previous government, UE did nothing.

Prof. Ryszard Legutko[1]

MEP from Poland, Law and Justice (Pol. Prawo i Sprawiedliwość)

European Conservatives and Reformers


Mr. Speaker,

Ladies and Gentlemen,


Yet again, you are presenting another Orwellian spectacle; I hope the last one.  However, knowing the House, it is not certain.  As previously, this decision is nonsensical, unfair, extremely partial and unjustified.

There is no problem with the Freedom of Assembly Bill.  There are no restrictions for anyone’s right to demonstrate in Poland.  Am I clear?  There are none.  So, why are you bothering people? How is it possible to fly in the face of facts so radically?

Let us look at the Istanbul Convention.  The Polish government’s position is clear. We are against the accession of the Union to the convention because it is in conflict with the Treaties.  In any case, it is not the Polish government alone who is against.  And please do not lecture us on the issue of violence against women.  With regard to the occurrence of violence against women, Poland is the last in Europe.  Yes, the last, the least violence.  The country of President Timmermans, The Netherlands, and of President Verhofstadt is high in the disgraceful ranking: the violence many times greater than in Poland.

You have drowned out in political correctness everything likely at all to be drowned out; you are destroying culture and language with it, drowning education in it and replacing it with indoctrination.  And what?  And nothing.  How about coming to us, to Poland, to learn the know-how so that women are not harmed?  Reportedly, it is never too late to learn, unless we exclude the EU political elite from the tenet.

You Sir, President Timmermans, have been dragging stubbornly the case of the Constitutional Tribunal demanding its domination by the nominees of one side of the political dispute in Poland.  I kind of manage to understand it.   You have become accustomed that in the Union, since time immemorial, one coalition has been in power and the fact that in some country there may be a diversity of disputing parties, that a constitutional tribunal argues you consider an anomaly.   A similar policy is carried out by the Venice Commission who in February this year, in Poland, did not grace the Tribunal judges of different opinion with their presence and threw their opinion to thrash.  And how to respect the opinion of the Venice Commission?

So, do not say that you mean freedom because it is the least of your concern.  You mean to preserve the monopoly of one side: yours.  No matter how long you would speak about the European values, you have with them less and less in common.  You do not observe the Treaties, you do not respect the subsidiary principle, you do not respect the rules of a rational discourse.   You do not recognize the Latin principle that the other party should be heard[1]; you do not respect another Latin principle that no-one should be heard[1]; you do not respect another Latin principle that no-one should be a judge in his own cause.[2]  Such an alienation from the European culture by the elites of the Union we observe for some time is a saddening fact and it bodes ill.

Recently, together with my colleague Tomasz Poręba, I have written an extensive letter to you to point out the gross errors.[3]  I repeat: gross errors in your and the European Commission’s opinion.  It does not concern an interpretation; it is about serious factual errors relating to the Polish Constitution and Polish law.  In line with your habit, you have ignored all the remarks or have not understood them.  It is an old method.  To pretend that something does not exist.  Ignorance or mimicking ignorance provides this pleasant sense of comfort.   How does all of it look simple if one does not need to answer to arguments and it suffices to sing the same opera with the clapping audience, does it not? [1]

Unfortunately, all of it is a piece of a larger whole.  Instead of stabilizing itself, the Union has been shaken and you are responsible for it, not inconsiderably.  You antagonize communities; you deepen divisions-not only in Poland.  Look how it is boiling up in most of the European countries.  Instead of winning yourselves allies, you are creating new enemies in a rapid pace: not reformers such as I and my group but enemies.  Yet, it cannot continue forever.  I dedicate a sentence from the Old Testament, from the Book of Proverbs, to you:

Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.

[1] Please compare also a very detailed and informative opinion of 15 experts:$File/Raport%20Zespo%C5%82u%20Ekspert%C3%B3w%20do%20spraw%20Problematyki%20Trybuna%C5%82u%20Konstytucyjnego.pdf

[1] Lat. Audiatur et altera pars.

[2] Lat. Nemo iudex in causa sua. 


[1] Lat. Audiatur et altera pars.

[1] Information in footnotes added by Voice Free Europe; the Polish original based on the speaker’s script, the authorized English translation by Lidia Sokołowska-Cybart.




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