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AndrezDuda’s presidential win to further escalate Poland’s rift with EU

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Poland has re-elected conservative-nationalist Andrzej Duda for five more years in power after he secured 51.03% of the votes in the recently-held presidential elections. However, his victory is likely to intensify Poland’s ongoing rift with the European Union. Allied with the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, Duda will be seeking to pursue reforms in the judicial system and private media of the country.

These controversial reforms have already launched risky confrontations with Brussels, with the European Commission contending that the reforms subvert democratic standards of the 27-member bloc.

During the knife-edge election battle against centre-right Warsaw mayor RafalTrzaskowski, Duda carried out a bitter campaign filled with homophobic remarks and attacks on private media. On the other hand, Trzaskowski, who won 48.8% of the votes, maintained that he would work on fixing Poland’s relations with Europe throughout his poll campaign.

Now, political observers have suggested that Duda’s victory will give the conservative-nationalist government further control over Poland’s prominent institutions which will put the judicial independence and democratic policies of the country at risk of erosion. Evidently, Poland’s clashes with the EU will escalate in the aftermath of the reforms in the country.

Piotr Buras and Pawel Zerka of the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) have reportedly asserted that Duda’s return to power will “further deteriorate the rule of law in Poland”. Apparently, political analysts are also anticipating tightening of political control over the Polish courts and increased control of private media by the ruling party in their favour. In addition, Duda’s election campaign focused on reinforcing already-strict measures against abortion and creation of “gay-free zones”.

These poll agendas will add to the struggles of Polish citizens in the EU’s sixth-largest economy. Substantially, it is crucial for the European Union to undertake the responsibility of securing the future of Poland’s democracy now more than ever. At the same time, Poland’s ongoing crisis also poses a grave challenge to the credibility of the EU’s legal order. In a bid to tackle this challenge amid a pandemic crisis and economic downturn, the EU has to focus on ensuring cooperation among the bloc members.

In recent years, Poland has gained significant benefits from EU’s support. In the European Commission’s proposed pandemic recovery fund of €750 billion, Poland will be receiving a major chunk of €63.8 billion to boost its recovery from the global health crisis. Furthermore, Poland will be receiving additional funds in the EU’s next seven-year budget (2021 to 2027) as proposed by Brussels. However, these funding proposals have met with severe criticism and objections from other member states as they ignore the concerns revolving around Poland’s rule of law.

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