Press release: JEF Europe statement on the Polish presidential elections

Brussels, 13 July 2020

The democratic world has witnessed several incredibly polarised votes over the last decade and the Polish vote for the President on 12 June 2020 was yet another example of how divided our society in Europe has become.

JEF Europe has always claimed to represent people of all parties and no party. As an increasing number of political parties across Europe have defined themselves in opposition to the values and mission of JEF, this is a line that is increasingly hard to maintain. JEF Europe cannot help but be disappointed with the outcome. The Presidency of Poland is supposed to be above partisan politics, but time and again President Duda has failed to uphold the constitutional order of Poland, as it has been subjected to unrelenting attacks by the party which supported him, Prawo i Sprawiedliwość (Law & Justice / PiS).

However, even if yesterday’s election had seen the victory of challenger Rafał Trzaskowski, there would be little cause for jubilation. In the first round of this election, which took place 28 June 2020, a significant proportion of young people voted for Krzysztof Bosak of Konfederacja on the extreme-right – a bad omen for the future. More broadly, the election campaign has demonstrated how public media in Poland has been captured by the government, and we have seen how the citizens of Poland have been barraged with propaganda and vitriol. We are especially worried about and critical of the role that the state media network TVP has played in the dissemination of hate.

Perhaps most worrying of all has been the ‘othering’ of people who define themselves as LGBT+, and the way in which anti-Semitism has re-emerged into the mainstream of Polish politics. European integration was and is the action we collectively take to fulfil the promise of ‘never again’. Federalism is the solution we propose to enable groups who are different from one another to live peacefully with one another, and to prosper. We condemn first and foremost therefore every person who decided to weaponise hate in this election, both for the harm it causes to millions of their fellow citizens in Poland, and for the amnesia it demonstrates about Europe’s recent past.

As a response, JEF Europe gives its full sympathies to all those who campaign for a free and European future for Poland, first among them our Polish section, Młodzi Europejscy Federaliści. We recognise it is no longer enough to offer words of condemnation or of support and so, in direct response to the deteriorated political situation in the country, JEF Europe will be investing more resources into its Polish section over the coming months.

Commenting on this investment is Chris Powers, JEF Europe board member with responsibility for Poland: “There is still time for Poland to turn away from the path which PiS has taken it on. The country has a great future as part of a Federal Europe, and both country and people have and are able to positively shape our common future. JEF stands ready to help anyone in Poland bring about change, because while these elections may still have been free, they can no longer be described as fair.

About JEF Europe

The Young European Federalists (JEF) Europe is a non-partisan youth NGO with 13.000  members active in more than 30 countries. The organisation strives towards a federal Europe based on the principles of democracy and subsidiarity as well as respect for human rights. JEF promotes true European Citizenship, and works towards more active participation of young people in democratic life. While the umbrella organisation JEF Europe was founded in 1972, its sections have been operating continuously since the end of the Second World War, making it the oldest pro-European and only federalist youth organisation.

Contact information

Chris Powers, Treasurer

Rue d’Arlon 53
1000 Brussels