Power play in Poland: is the EU overstepping its boundaries for political gain?

Power play in Poland: is the EU overstepping its boundaries for political gain?

The European Union, led by Germany, seeks to influence the Polish government’s election following the recent elections. EU leaders, headed by Ursula von der Leyen, favor a government led by Donald Tusk but face obstacles in their attempt.

For years, a hostile attitude towards the conservative Polish government and its ruling party, PiS (Law and Justice), has prevailed in Brussels. This hostility became evident before the elections in Poland in October, with blatant attacks from members of the EU establishment. Manfred Weber, President of the European People’s Party, made aggressive statements in an interview, indicating an effort to replace PiS and reintegrate Poland into Europe.

These attacks are not isolated and aim to change the government in Warsaw. Ursula von der Leyen had previously expressed her desire for Tusk to return to power in Poland. Katarina Barley, a German MEP, also made headlines in 2020 by calling for more pressure on Hungary and Poland to uphold the rule of law, suggesting the use of EU subsidies as leverage. Despite the criticisms, Barley did not retract her comments and publicly celebrated a possible change of government in Poland.

German leaders in Brussels, such as Weber and Von der Leyen, appear to be working towards Tusk’s return to power in Poland, possibly hoping for a more influencible Polish government by Berlin, as was the case with Tusk’s previous government. This raises the question of what kind of “Europe” they are aiming to lead Poland towards: a superstate dominated by Germany?

EU pressures on Poland persist after the October 15 elections. The ruling party, Law and Justice (PiS), won the elections, but Donald Tusk’s Civic Platform (KO) and other opposition parties obtained over 54% of the votes and secured a majority in parliament. However, the opposition bloc is fragmented, making the formation of a unified government complicated.

Meanwhile, Tusk, without waiting for President Duda’s decision on the formation of a new government, traveled to Brussels to meet EU leaders, including Ursula von der Leyen. This unusual situation has generated outrage not only in Poland but also in Western media, which view the interference of the European Commission in the national politics of member states as premature and in violation of democratic norms.

Polish MEP Anna Fotyga, a former Minister of Foreign Affairs, questioned the European Commission on its interference in Poland’s electoral process. In a tweet, Fotyga raised questions about the legitimacy of Tusk’s meeting with Von der Leyen and the Commission’s influence on Polish politics.

President Duda, respecting the Polish constitution and political tradition, announced that he would grant the formation of the new government to the winning party of the elections, PiS, led by current Prime Minister Morawiecki, thus ignoring the pressures from Brussels.