Poland reelects its “populist” president

Poland’s incumbent president, Andrzej Duda, has been elected for another five-year term. He narrowly defeated Rafał Trzaskowski, the mayor of Warsaw and friend of the EU. With nearly all votes counted, the split was 51.2 to 48.8.

Duda is an ally of President Trump. Duda visited Trump at the White House shortly before the first round of presidential voting, in which he also came out on top.

Duda is a social conservative. His stated goal is to maintain the “inviolable and sacred tradition” of Poland. LGBT rights aren’t part of that tradition.

His economic policy is designed to reduce inequality, in part by expanding social benefits. This makes him very popular with poor voters in rural areas. However, the Polish economy has slumped due to the Wuhan coronavirus. This probably explains why the election was as close as it was.

The EU hates Duda, of course. In fact, the European parliament’s “civil liberties” committee will vote tomorrow on whether the EU should broaden its continued disciplinary procedure against Poland.

The left’s main stated beef with Duda is with his actions to limit the power of Poland’s judges. One can argue about how much say the judiciary should have over government policy in Poland, the U.S., and elsewhere. But Duda’s critics treat agreement with Poland’s post 1989 arrangement, which gave holdover judges significant power as a means of placating communists who stood in way of democracy, as if it were a necessary condition for true democracy.

It is not. There’s nothing inherently democratic about vesting power with unelected judges. In fact, as John Fonte has argued persuasively, Poland’s entrenched judiciary has not been a force for democracy.

Poland’s democracy remains robust. This is clear from the just-completed Polish election itself. Pawel Zerka, a policy fellow at the liberal European Council on Foreign Relations, stated that the election “shows that [Polish] democracy is vibrant.” Apparently democracy hasn’t “died in darkness” in Poland.

If he had defeated Duda, Trzaskowski could have used the presidential veto to stymie much of the legislative agenda of Duda’s party. Now, with the next parliamentary elections not until 2023, Duda and his party will have free rein for at least the next three years.

That sound you may be hearing is heads exploding in Brussels and a few at mainstream media outlets here in the U.S.

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