Nowoczesna’s deputies in Sejm, Adrian Grycuk via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0 pl, source
“Hope comes back to Nowoczesna, hope comes back to Poland”
On March 18 in Warsaw the first National Council of Nowoczesna since the change of leadership took place. It was the second meeting of this term, aiming to “answer the question where Nowoczesna comes from and where it is heading”. It consisted of two parts – open, available to the media, during which the leaders of the party spoke, and a closed one, during which further programme talks about “modern Poland” happened.
“There’s no freedom without Nowoczesna and no Nowoczesna without freedom”
To start off the Council, leader Lubnauer presented her vision of the party – “you’re all here, because you share the same values and think about modern Poland” – she adressed the participants. “Nowoczesna, as it was at its beginning and as it is now, is a community of values, ideas, shared dreams about future Poland”. According to her, the main value is “the biggest value for liberals” which she considers to be freedom. “We have to courageously and uncompromisingly stand guard of freedom in all its aspects, and broaden them bravely” – she called urgently – “in personal freedom, freedom of conscience, speech and assembly, and economic freedom,” she enumerated.
Katarzyna Lubnauer was convincing that her party is characterised by courage and consistency, highlighting that she is not afraid of tackling politically difficult issues such as adopting Euro. She has also expressed hope that Nowoczesna will manage to “steer Poland into a liberal direction”, aiming for, as she put it, promoting activity and creativity of individuals, and not their passivity, which she has accused PiS (ECR) of, the rebuilding of diplomatic prowess of Poland and courageous upholding of civic rights and freedoms, i.e. women’s, enterpriser’s and foreigner’s rights, and also “everyone who is despised by PiS – sexual, ethnic and religious minorities”.
“The day will come when PiS historical politics won’t be enough for Poles anymore” – the leader foretold – “soon turning people against others with different views or origins, will be seen as a dead end”. As she believes, “soon Poles will realise that they deserve more civic and economic freedom”. The leader of Nowoczesna did not hide her opinion that a day like this will come thanks to her party.
Besides emphasizing how important freedom is, Katarzyna Lubnauer also noticed the value of equality. “Equality of sexes is a fiction, as well as equality before the law and equality of opportunities” – she pointed out. The leader espoused with fighting bias connected with sexual orientation, and social and financial status, she also claimed that since everyone is different, we should forsake dividing people to better and worse, with the use of criterion of any kind – as she convinced, “nobody, no matter on whose behalf they’re speaking: their own, any government’s or any God’s – has the right to exclude anyone”.
Common currency and future cabinet
Ryszard Petru also spoke during the Council. He began his speech with a promise of cooperation with his successor, however he focused on programme issues.
He recognised geopolitical and economic safety of Poland to be crucial issues – “We would like Poland to be rich and safe, and for no one in Poland to be worried about tomorrow, and for no government to cause our country to be on the verge of bankrupcy” – he assured. Ryszard Petru also admitted that he dreamt for future of Poland to be connected with “rich Europe” for ever, and its alliences to be “stable and strong” and not temporary.
The ex-leader convinced that dreams like that are realistic but require “bold decisions” and suggested that a way to make them true is euroisation. “If Poland belonged to eurozone, nobody would have to wonder today if we’re leaving Europe now, or if we’re going to soon” – he stated. He also blew apart the claims from “pseudoexperts of the governing party”, which state that in order to adopt Euro, we have to earn as much as in the western Europe. “It’s nonsense” – he said, and countered with another theory – “in order to earn as much as in the western Europe, we have to enter the eurozone to be more competitive.”
Ryszard Petru didn’t miss the chance to point out Mateusz Morawiecki’s hipocrisy, bringing back his unequivocally positive opinion of adopting the common currency from 2013. He admitted however that he “noticed a significant change in Platforma Obywatelska (EPP)”, speaking about the party’s favourable standpoint regarding the common currency. “It’s very good – he cheered – because now we can build a big, substantive coalition over it for european and parliamentary elections”. As the ex-leader of Nowoczesna believes, it will be an important element which in the future may become the “basis of the governing coalition’s programme”.
“The parliamentary election of 2019 will be a historic one and it is up to us whether it will be a historic defeat or a historic triumph of Polish civil society, a civil society that desires a democratic Poland, a Poland of law and embedded in Europe for good” – another speaker, Adam Szłapka, recognised. “I am convinced that this election is winnable”, he assured. He remarked, however, that the condition for this to happen is a joint electoral list of all groupings that want “a democratic Polad, a Poland of rules and rule of law, a Poland in Europe”, which “does not seem possible” today.
“Let us accept form the start that we will not implement our programmes. Let us do this little or this much and bring back the democratic rechtstaat, reverting the Eastwards march of Poland” – he called. “This election should appoint not a Sejm, but a Constitutional Assembly”. Szłapka made an appeal to put programmes aside and agree that it is not time to compete – “We have to create a joint list only to establish a Constitutional Assembly, only to restore the rules of the game and keep on playing afterwards, compete already in a democratic rechtstaat”, he insisted.
According to Szłapka, only an attitude like this can make the opposition compliant enough to run together as a coalition consisting of, aside form Nowoczesna, PO, PSL (EPP), SLD (S&D), Razem, Barbara Nowacka and Robert Biedroń, as well as activists from non-governmental oganisations. Szłapka expressed certainty that only such a common list can successfully secure a constitutional majority.
“We need to prepare a social contract that will be the foundation of such a coalition”, he admitted. As Szłapka sees it, its cornerstone should be the restoration of an independent judiciary and “passing bills that will rebuild what PiS has destroyed with breach of the constitution”, namely the Constitutional Tribunal, National Judiciary Council and Supreme Court, but also implementing additional checks and balances to the Constitution – “The Constitution that worked well for years revealed its weakness met with legal savagery of Jarosław Kaczyński” – he declared.
One of the solutions that Szłapka suggested was to improve opennes of the Polish parliamentary system by giving up on the d’Hondt method – “Never again can a party that failed to receive an absolute majority in an election receive an absolute majority in Sejm”. Another idea was to lower the electoral threshold that “discourages the voter” – “It is better to choose a party that will bring 10 or 15 deputies to Sejm and will represent me, and I am speaking in the voters’ name, than to be forced to pick a lesser evil again”, he concluded.
Repeating after Ryszard Petru, Adam Szłapka supported the plan to “root Poland in Europe more”. According to the politician, “in 2003 Poles voted for the European Union because of values, not because of money” and the choice was a “leap forward in civilisation”, one akin to adopting the common currency. “It is a simple dilemma: either a safe, steadily developing Poland in an ever-closer Europe and the Western world, or a drift into the embrace of Russia waiting for just that”, he warned.
“Diversity constitutes a nation’s strength if the country accepts it”
During the Council legislation worked on by Nowoczesna over the term was also presented, such as the proposed bill on civil partnerships. “It is not our job to tell people how to live their lives” – Monika Rosa acknowledged, talking about the bill – “No one has a divine, moral, human or any other right to decide which adults can start a family, love each other and have children and which do not”.
The deputy also discussed the idea to recognise Silesian as a regional language – “We, in Silesia, often experience that the country does not accept us and how much it is afraid of diversity, how much it ignores it or fights it”. She argued that the language, distinctness and identity of Silesians are facts. “Silesian is a living language, it’s evolving, plays are written in it, books, translations, songs” – she listed. Monika Rosa did not conceal that Silesians want to be heard and have their story told – “We want people to know that there were Polish death camps in Silesia in post-war Poland, where Silesians were put and murdered”, she confessed. Convinced that “there is a place for everyone in Poland”, she stood up against top-down creation of Polish identity and summarised her speech in Silesian.