Poland test for sovereignty, Europe and NATO


“Poland is one of the few countries that are meeting NATO’s defense spending obligations. They asked us to send troops there and we will probably relocate them from Germany to Poland. ” Donald Trump said so giving his blessing to Andrzej Duda, Polish president, the first leader to visit Washington after the loosening of the lockdown, an ultra-nationalist candidate for the second term in the presidential elections next Sunday. The presidential elections in Poland are a world-class test. For sovereignty, for Europe and for NATO.

It is the first post-pandemic election test, moreover, in a country governed by ‘Law and Justice’ (Pis), the party of Jaroslaw Kaczynski, a precursor of the global sovereign trend. It could give answers, albeit partial, on the effects of the virus on ultra-nationalist forces. It is no coincidence that Duda was the first leader to visit Trump in person. The President of the United States seems now barricaded in the White House, overwhelmed by criticism for the management of the pandemic, the assassination of George Floyd and racial discrimination in his America, by the protests of the ‘Black lives matter’ movement. The meeting with Duda serves him to tighten the bolts of the political ‘brotherhood’ with Kaczynski’s Pis across the Atlantic, in a Europe that, by Angela Merkel’s choice, is becoming increasingly hostile towards Trump’s States, waiting of the presidential elections in the USA.

And here they are the two nationalists who meet and try to make common mass. Trump uses Poland to send more arrows to Germany. The president goes further than the announcement to withdraw 9,500 US soldiers out of 34,500 stationed in Germany since the postwar period. He adds that some will return home, others will be moved to Poland, a NATO country that has reached 2 percent of GDP of contributions to the expenses of the Atlantic Alliance strongly requested by Washington. Berlin is 1.38 percent.

All is well between Trump and Duda. But will they also govern the next political cycle? The vote on Sunday in Poland will provide an initial answer to the questions on the possible effects of the virus on sovereignties. Set for May 10, Polish elections have been postponed because of Covid. According to the polls, Duda should not prevail in the first round: it is given over 40 percent, but it is not enough. Among the other candidates (there are 10 in total), the mayor of Warsaw Rafał Trzaskowski, candidate of the Civic Platform, the face of the anti-Kaczynski social uprising, does not reach 30 percent. In third place Szymon Hołownia with just over 10 percent: well-known TV personality, presenter of the show ‘Poland’s got talent’, could make the difference in the second round to be held on July 12 and, together with the voters of Trzaskowski and other candidates , join forces and try to knock out the outgoing president.

“I am betting that Duda will lose in the second round,” Polish writer and journalist Wlodek Goldkorn tells the Huffpost. If this were the case, it would be the first setback for a sovereign party in power for some time in Poland, between victories and defeats, but for five years firmly in the saddle and anticipator of the nationalist trend at a global level, before Brexit, before the first election of Trump.

After managing the pandemic without a real lockdown, Poland (together with Sweden) has not yet reached the peak of the infections, unlike all the other countries of Europe. Over 33 thousand infected, just over 1400 dead, the virus did not show its most ferocious face in Poland, although one in ten of the infections emerged among the workers of the coal mines, still a fundamental source of energy for the country, which in fact, it has not joined Ursula von der Leyen’s ‘Green deal’.

And therefore, to escape the Covid argument, which spreads only uncertainties about the future, Duda decides to play the “family card” in the election campaign. “Gay ideology is worse than communism”, is the peak of its provocations that sparked protests and an atmosphere of intimidation against LGBT activists. “But you don’t have to pay – says Goldkorn – I also tell the opposition that attacks him on this. People have more pressing problems right now, like work. ”

Of course, Poland is incredibly in third place – after Italy and Spain – in the distribution of aid from the Recovery fund: 64 billion euros, although it has not been particularly affected by the pandemic. But even this cannot be the flagship of the Pis election campaign: Warsaw is likely to fall back in the rankings at the end of the negotiations between the Member States in view of the European Council in mid-July, half Europe disputes that third place.

Trump is no longer at the peak of success, also injured by the Tulsa flop. Briton Boris Johnson, another political ‘brother’ of the US president, although he is not doing very well in the uncertainty sown by his management of the epidemic and by the negotiations with Brussels on Brexit that have stopped at a dead end. The virus is an ugly beast for all governments, including nationalisms, sovereigns, anti-Europeanisms in power. Indeed: for the latter it can prove lethal, because it is too serious a problem that leads to an unprecedented economic crisis, forcing them to remove the mask of certainties, their common and distinctive feature, and to navigate the swirling waters of doubt. True spell even for opposition sovereigns – see Matteo Salvini’s declining polls – running out of arguments in the swirling pandemic. The Polish vote could anticipate something of the post-Covid world.

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