The past week has been marked in Poland by the struggle to elect an Ombudsman. The term of the incumbent, Dr Adam Bodnar, expired in October 2020. The Ombudsman, who has denounced the reprehensible, anti-democratic practices of Jarosław Kaczyński’s right-wing Law and Justice government, has been a thorn in the side of the authorities. For several months, the ruling party and its right-wing allies have been trying to get another Ombudsman elected – the one who would not oppose the government’s anti-worker and anti-democratic policies. They are not succeeding, above all, because the opposition has a majority in the Senate, whose approval of a candidate chosen by the government’s parliamentary majority is necessary. There has therefore been a stalemate for several months.
Lately, it seemed that a candidate had emerged who could reconcile all parties: Piotr Ikonowicz, a democratic and social activist, who has been helping the excluded for years, endorsed by the left-wing parliamentary and non-parliamentary parties.
However, it turned out that the opposition’s centrist and right-wing parties voted for their own candidate, not wanting to support a „left-wing radical”. The candidate of the left had no chance then.
For its part, the ruling party has referred an enquiry to the Constitutional Court as to whether the incumbent Ombudsman can continue his work beyond his term of office. This is an obvious legal ploy. The Constitutional Court currently consists of judges who are completely subordinate to the ruling party and who were elected in violation of the Constitution. Until now, ombudsmen have held their positions after the expiry of their term of office, but Adam Bodnar did not want to leave the post, knowing that it would be left vacant.
As expected, the Constitutional Court ruled in favour of the authorities. Democracy in Poland has lost.
The left-wing candidate, who enjoyed the greatest support among all other candidates in opinion polls, announced that he would create a structure of a Social Ombudsman – a network of social activists ready to defend workers and tenants in their working and living places, should their rights be violated.
And it is enough to know a little about Polish reality to understand how much citizens need an active Ombudsman institution.
A court in a southern Polish town has sentenced rapists of a 12-year-old girl to minor sentences, motivating his leniency by the fact that the violence used against her was „not too far-reaching”.
In turn, the prosecutor’s office in Wrocław discontinued the investigation against one of the most vicious and well-known anti-Semites in Poland. They found nothing wrong with his anti-Semitic statements. On the contrary, he was found to support patriotism.
The public prosecutor’s office, this time in Warsaw, also decided that the policeman who gassed the Left-wing MP during a demonstration, when she was showing him her ID did nothing wrong.
The Left, for its part, has made an important contribution to the fight against so-called junk contracts. The Left Club has submitted a bill that would significantly limit the possibility of employers abusing zero contracts today.
The Catholic Church in Poland still feels that it is an institution which is not subject to the law. A bishop who covered up for years for another priest, a paedophile and rapist, has been awarded a prestigious prize by a Catholic university in Lublin.
Even in Polish politics we can observe a spring revival. The recent Easter holiday in Pola…