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Sunday, April 3, 2016

Jaroslaw Kaczynski A Polish Putin: Autocratic Power Grab Accelerates in Warsaw.

Jaroslaw Kaczynski A Polish Putin: Autocratic Power Grab Accelerates in Warsaw. (Spiegel).

Poland's national-conservative government was quick to sideline the country's high court. Now, Jaroslaw Kaczynski and his party have their sights set on complete control of the state.

At age 73, she is the grande dame of politics in Warsaw -- and she still talks so much and so fast that hardly anyone can get a word in edgewise. More than anything, though, Jadwiga Staniszkis is not afraid of those in power.

Even as a young assistant professor during communist times, her defiance got her into trouble and she spent some time in prison as a result.

Today, 27 years after the fall of communism, Staniszkis is once again taking on the authorities. The sociology professor has become one of the most outspoken critics of the current national-conservative government under the control of Jaroslaw Kaczynski.

Although Kaczynski has no formal position in the government, he is widely seen as the one pulling the strings in the background.

Staniszkis was long a fan of Kaczynski and has even campaigned for his national-conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party in the past. She once gushed: "I think he is perhaps the most intelligent politician in Poland. I like him a lot."

Today, she says: "He wants to monopolize power with no limitations. The approach is informed by a Bolshevik understanding of politics."

Kaczynski has placed state-run media in Poland under his control and weakened the country's highest court, known as the Constitutional Tribunal. And that was just the beginning.

The Warsaw-based newsmagazine Polityka has even described it as a coup d'├ętat. There have been large protests in the country, harsh criticism from Brussels and a rule of law inquiry from the EU, but nothing has yet stopped Kaczynski.

Now, on his path to absolute power, he is preparing to put every last aspect of the state under his control. Already, he can rely on his party's majority in Polish parliament to do his bidding. But he apparently has aspirations beyond just dominating ministries, state agencies and the judiciary. Under his leadership, the state is to take on a stricter, fatherly role -- not unlike an autocracy.

In the battle over the Constitutional Tribunal, Professor Staniszkis knows the primary adversaries well. Both Andrzej Rzeplinski, who is president of the court, and Jaroslaw Kaczynski, who has robbed the court of its power, attended her university classes.

Professor Staniszkis, who has known Jaroslaw Kaczynski for several decades, has not been allowed to see him for months. The two don't have that much to say to each other anyway. "He doesn't understand the Western concept of sovereignty, which uses a system of checks and balances to prevent a dictatorship of the majority," says Staniszkis. Her former student, she adds, wants absolute power. "It is archaic and reminiscent of Putin's approach to power." Read the full story here.

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