A warning from Poland

By Gwynne Dyer, in News · 24-07-2020 01:00:00 · 26 Comments


Few people outside of Poland care about the outcome of last Sunday’s presidential election there, but maybe they should.

Andrzej Duda is practically a Polish clone of Donald Trump, who will also be seeking re-election less than four months from now – and Duda squeaked out a victory.

Duda only got 51.2 percent of the vote against 48.8 percent for his liberal opponent, but Trump doesn’t even need that many votes. The Poles vote for their president directly, but gerrymandered electoral districts and the ‘electoral college’ system in the United States let Trump win last time with only 46.1 percent of the popular vote. He could do it again.

It’s not a perfect comparison, of course. Duda is more intelligent than Trump, and the Covid-19 death toll is only 40 per million people in Poland, compared to 420 per million in the United States. Moreover the Law and Justice Party he is linked to is generally seen as competent and honest.

The history is different, too. Just as the United States was winning its independence from the British empire in the late 18th century, Poland was carved up by its neighbours and vanished from the map for more than a hundred years. Twenty years after it regained its independence in 1918 it was conquered by Hitler’s legions, and then it fell under Soviet Communist rule until 1989.

So what relevance could Polish politics have for the forthcoming election in the United States? Quite a lot, actually, starting with the very similar ways in which the two countries are polarised politically.

The Law and Justice Party (PiS), in power since 2015, draws its support from exactly the same social groups as Trump’s ‘base’: older, small-town or rural, lower-middle or working class, poorly educated, and significantly more male than female. Also more religious (which in Poland usually means a conservative brand of Catholicism) and much more nationalist.

Duda doesn’t use the slogan ‘Make Poland Great Again’, because it’s three centuries since Poland was a great power in Europe. He doesn’t share Trump’s deference to Russian leader Vladimir Putin, because Russia rivals Germany as the great historic enemy in Polish nationalist thought. But in terms of targeting minorities, the PiS and Duda actually outdo Trump.

The PiS makes a great song-and-dance about hordes of Muslim immigrants threatening Polish national identity (although no sane Muslim would ever choose to move to Poland). But the best targets in the culture wars are people who really live in the country, and since Poland doesn’t have minorities of different colours, that mainly means gays and Jews.

Duda made homophobic rhetoric the centrepiece of his re-election campaign, promising to “defend children from LGBT ideology” and comparing the LGBT rights agenda to communism. He promised a new constitutional amendment to ban same-sex adoption, which he described as the “enslavement” of children.

Since the government has already turned the once impartial state-owned media into the PiS’s propaganda arm, it now concentrates its fire on the private media, much of it owned by US and German companies, which still try to offer independent analysis. Duda’s line was therefore to attack the evil foreign-owned media – and, of course, to suggest that they are really serving “Jewish interests”.

It’s not pretty, but Trump recognises a kindred spirit in Duda, whom he has met eleven times since 2017, including an invitation to the White House last month to give the Polish president a last-minute electoral boost. Duda attacks the media, his party is busily packing the judiciary with reliable conservative judges – and he won re-election. It’s enough to give The Donald hope.

But maybe not enough hope, because there is one big practical difference. However much Trump may claim to love the poor and “the poorly educated”, he hasn’t done much to help them, whereas the PiS puts its money where its mouth is.

Trump has signed a cheque for $1,200 for each American once during the pandemic, and wants to sign one more if Congress approves. The PiS gives every Pole $125 for each child every month, pandemic or not. It doesn’t make much difference to the average urban middle-class Polish family, but it has transformed the lives of millions of families who live in the small towns and the countryside.

The PiS ‘base’ is also invested in the culture wars, but there’s little doubt that this subsidy, running around $3,000 a year for the average family, gave Duda a vital extra push in the election. If Trump promised a thinly disguised ‘basic income’ like that for the United States, he could probably win too.

He wouldn’t have any serious ideological objection to that, because he actually doesn’t have any coherent ideology. However, the Republican Party’s loyalty to its traditional conservative beliefs, though heavily eroded, is probably still strong enough to make that impossible.


The USA is in risk of having a violent civil war Regions of the nation on both left & right have passed laws that defy the federal government with the support of local law enforcement & politicians Stop denying this fact Euro people have no clue what is really going on now in USA It will get violent no matter who wins in November

By USA Guy from USA on 19-08-2020 01:03

Of cause if your idea of a human right is the right to force parents to lock up their children in their basements in order to prevent them from being exposed to your perverse displays on the public streets, then I think most sane people would agree your "human rights" do need to be violated. But other then that, the idea that Poland is threatening anyone's human right is a hysterical woke-ideological fantasy.

By Kari Lehto from Other on 31-07-2020 07:49

I doubt there is any attack against the "LGBQ..." whatever actual people, human beings. People with different sexual orientations or whatever should probably not be worried that any of their actual human rights are being threatened simply because some hysterical journalists want to make it sound like they are. I do not believe that in Poland, or pretty much anywhere, the "attack" against the "LGBQ..." is against any people or that any actual people are being called an ideology. It is an evil "LGBQ..." ideology that is masquerading as a human right movement that is being attacked and criticized, nobody, as a human being, is under attack as far as I have understood.

By Kari Lehto from Other on 31-07-2020 07:41

I saw this, read 2 or 3 lines, and thought, ´who is Polish, knows someone at TPN, and has an agenda´, classic planted oped.

By João from Lisbon on 29-07-2020 08:55

The article failed to mention Polish PATRIOTISM. The people who voted for Andrzej Duda were first of all Polish patriots who don't want Russia meddling in the country and they don't want Germany's Brussels walking all over the Polish constitution which is the law of the land.

Poland's patriotic PiS government has managed Poland's fabulous economic growth. Poland's GDP per capita now exceeds that of Portugal. All countries should be run by their patriots not by liberal sell-outs to Germany's Brussels which in reality is the 4th Reich project.

Greetings to all sane, normal people out there!

By Waldemar from USA on 28-07-2020 07:13

The article clearly states it is "World Political Opinion." Which means, it is NOT really news....lots of papers have opinion sections....except maybe state run newspapers. The Portugal News allows opinions.....it printed your comments!

By William from Other on 27-07-2020 02:07

Bob idziorek and the kazmareks are my heros.

By N.a. from USA on 26-07-2020 09:53

I wonder why people think national socialism and fascism are automatically something bad. They are political worldviews that influence every country on earth and are partially responsible for some of the best political practices in practice by basically every country on earth. No single political theory can sufficient serve to solve all problems in society and too much of any one thing is usually harmful. Hysterical, ideological, unpractical and uninformed view of the world is to think society can sole all problems trough any blind ideological theory. Life is organic and has many forms and networks where several different viewpoints and practices are important for a functioning society. And openness for ideas is needed also, because life is ever changing. No ideology can last that ignores the forces of nature.

By Kari Lehto from Other on 26-07-2020 11:30

The story is about Andrzej Duda with Trumps photo on the heading, great journalism, are using the Kiss FM journalist, i'm lost for words.

By Mr John from Algarve on 25-07-2020 03:37

I am a fan of the Portugal news and have been very grateful at the great efforts to keep us all informed over the last few months. I am surprised that with the integrity the paper has shown through the years that they would print this article by Ms. Dyer. She has absolutely no idea of American politics and of the Electoral College or of Polish politics either as demonstrated by the previous comments. If the USA didn’t have the safeguard of the Electoral college, America would be run by New York and California and even Ms. Dyer might have to concede that it would completely disenfranchise all of the “deplorable residents of the flyover states’ as Hillary labelled them. Hopefully President Trump will be re-elected in November before the USA turns into Democratic run places like California, Oregon, Washington, Illinois, Minnesota and New York where there are movements to defund the police. This article is neither factual nor informative but should be noted as an editorial or preferably, discarded.

By American in Portugal from Algarve on 25-07-2020 02:42

I agree with Bob. This is a totally biased and bigoted article written by a failed journalist who is probably herself a reject from Trump's America. Bitterness and hatred runs all the way through the article as she desperately attempts to make a story on how Duda is a copycat of Trump. What a pathetic failure to have written such rubbish!

By Billy Bissett from Porto on 25-07-2020 12:54

The Dude Duda does bear comparison to Trump D . Both are autocrats who know how to use the twitteresque prism of social politics to full undemocratic advantage . Their dynastic power-base augurs for a continuation well into the 20s.
Another Bob from the mysterious land of Other.

By Knight from Other on 25-07-2020 10:40

Julia, I have a simple question for you - why on earth would we, Polish people, suggest to our own citizens - that also means gays, lesbians, bi and so on - to "easily emigrate to other, more liberal countries in the EU". Since when do we segregate our people based on whether they agree or disagree with presidential opinion? Where is that famous democracy of PiS government? Also, are you suggesting that a polish person who was born gay is just supposed to get out of the country if they do not like being treated like shit (forgive my language)? Maybe we shouldn't treat them like shit in the first place, these are our own people after all. They work, pay taxes, contribute to our society - is it really that surprising, that they do not like being called an "ideology" and "worse than communism" or being compared to pedophiles? The thinking of: "you don't like it, you don't agree with us, get the hell out", is just a step away from segregating us into citizen categories based on "political desirability", boy would that end great. Let's just treat ourselves with respect, that's not that hard to do. And I consider Duda's campaign of scapegoating LGBT people, as cause of all evil in Poland, extremely disrespectful and below what president should stand for.

By Krzysztof from Other on 25-07-2020 09:02

You're unaware of your own prejudice and you need to cut this line immediately and apologize as it is racist and insulting to the Polish Muslim community. Every major Polish city has at least one mosque, and I personally live in a Warsaw neighbourhood with two Turkish restaurants, two Arab delis, a Moroccan restaurant and a Lenanese restaurant, all run by Muslims -"
Polish people in general are extremely racist. There is only one mosque in Poland, it is in Gdansk . Attacks on the mosque began to escalate from the end of 2014 when there was an attempt to set it on fire. In the following years, the temple systematically fell prey to vandals painting offensive and vulgar inscriptions on it. It is very easy to have a minority groups who come to assimilate, open restaurants with their native food etc. and in general enriched the culture of their new country. It is all very nice but it is a completely different story when immigrants are coming in big numbers as it happened in Germany. Poland would explode with rasism.

By Allegro from Other on 25-07-2020 04:36

Gwynne Dyer holds little to respect. This so called historian knows very little and is a one sided liberal. No understanding of the world and even less respect for varying opinions.

Gwynne.. how is your crappy liberal government doing with another investigation into corruption?

Focus on your own infancy of a country and leave the prejudice opinions to your small group of shallow minds.

By Norman Davies from Other on 25-07-2020 01:10


Not much reason to emigrate while the Rainbow Flag is still flying in Warsaw and I'm sipping a cold drink at a gay bar in Warsaw this evening.

Jesus taught us, 'love thy neighbour'. If your children turn out to be gay, you can let them know they'll always find love in Warsaw even if their mother doesn't love them. But Julia, you will be welcome too, just as Jesus taught us.

By Rob from Other on 24-07-2020 06:09

"Poland doesn’t have minorities of different colours" ?!!!!!!

Poland's black MPs https://www.nation.co.ke/kenya/life-and-style/dn2/poland-s-black-mps-835540

Vietnamese people in Poland https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vietnamese_people_in_Poland#:~:text=The%20Polish%20census%20of%202011,possible%20range%20at%20about%2050%2C000.

By Rob from Other on 24-07-2020 06:02

Is this The Portugal News' idea of news or is it an editorial comment?
The journalist's prejudice is glaringly obvious as is the lack of intelligence in commenting on the intellect of people she has not nor will ever meet.

By Ron from Other on 24-07-2020 04:20

I m sure tha Zdzislaw Obara is unable to think , his analytical IQ is equal with average washing machine

By Andrew from Other on 24-07-2020 03:13

I stopped when I read that PiS is seen as competent and honest. Perhaps among their base, who are fooled by the "public service" media which are completely controlled by PiS. But no, they are not honest nor competent. That's why they are trying to change the constitution in their favor and take control of the courts to turn them into politicised tools.
As for Duda, it doesn't matter if he is more or less intelligent. He does what the party leader Kaczyński tells him to do, nothing more, nothing less. So, PiS has put the tripartite division of power out of play and are taking a lot of ideas from the old communist play book when it comes to propaganda and surveillance. It's really sad to see.
I hope this wave of nationalism (or national socialism in the case of Poland) will end sooner rather than later.

By Thomas Krotkiewski from Other on 24-07-2020 02:43

I'm from Poland and trust me the law and justice for sure is not seen as competent and honest

By Michał from Other on 24-07-2020 02:03

So Duda is like Trump except he is not? How exactly Duda was attacking Jews? Finally, "once impartial state media" made me smile, and the alleged impartiality of german or us owned TVs goes beyond fantasy. E.g. in the last week before ellection these imparial media (one main tv owned by ghe same consortium as CNN) tried to made Duda a supporter of pedophilia... Lefist liberal media are not impartial.

By Marcin from Porto on 24-07-2020 02:00

Duda is a democratic choice of Poles- most of them share his opinion on LGBT community , he's not breaking any human rights, so i dont think it's your problem what is going on in our country- especially when minorities can easily emigrate to more liberal countries in EU

By Julia from Other on 24-07-2020 01:05

"But the best targets in the culture wars are people who really live in the country, and since Poland doesn’t have minorities of different colours, that mainly means gays and Jews."

Wrong again, you're a bigot and can't even use Google. Look it up: Poland has two black, African born MPs, a long-established Vietnamese immigrant community of circa 40,000 and new immigration waves of Indians and Chinese as you'll see on this data map https://migracje.gov.pl/en/statistics/scope/world/type/statuses/view/map/year/2020/?x=-2.3058&y=-0.8143&level=4

The reason why Poland has relatively small minorities of different colours is that unlike Portugal, Britain and the US it didn't genocidally take the land of people of different colours as a colonial power, and didn't participate in the genocidal slave trade. Quit casting aspertions, quit your prejudice and do some basic research if you want us to read these articles.

By Bob from Other on 24-07-2020 12:03

I was enjoying this article until I stopped at "no sane Muslim would ever choose to move to Poland."

You're unaware of your own prejudice and you need to cut this line immediately and apologize as it is racist and insulting to the Polish Muslim community. Every major Polish city has at least one mosque, and I personally live in a Warsaw neighbourhood with two Turkish restaurants, two Arab delis, a Moroccan restaurant and a Lenanese restaurant, all run by Muslims - and by the way, also an Israeli restaurtant run by Jews, who buy their pita bread from the Arab delis. A short bike ride away is Warsaw's Muslim Polish Tatar cemetary. 

By Bob from Other on 24-07-2020 10:05

I do not think that A.Duda is more inteligent than D.Trump. If you treat breaking the law he is really much better.

By Zdzislaw Obara from Other on 24-07-2020 02:14
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