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When five years ago Gazeta Wyborcza wrote before the parliamentary elections of 2015 that democracy itself was at stake, we were mercilessly mocked, while friendly voices were telling us not to use the Law and Justice party as a scare-crow. Nowadays it is not necessary to present Law and Justice as a scare-crow anymore. Today Law and Justice does a very good job of scaring Poles itself.

The dreadful Poland of Andrzej Duda

Five years of destroying democracy and dismantling state institutions should deprive even the most naive people of their illusions. Andrzej Duda was supposed to guard the constitution, but he breaks it by serving as a mere tool of his former party. He was supposed to unite Poles, but he stirs up hatred and contempt for minorities for political gain. He was supposed to embody the seriousness of the state, but his decisions, gestures and tirads do not match the dignity of the office.

As the Commander-in-Chief, he led the Polish army to collapse. He talks about the European Union with disdain. Thanks to him, Poland's position in the world has greatly diminished.

In fact, it is not Duda who is facing Rafał Trzaskowski's vision of Poland - open, democratic and European. Duda is but an avatar. His views belong to his political master, Jarosław Kaczyński. Anachronous obsessions and delusional grievances characterize the views of the most powerful man in Poland, who does not understand the modern world and who incites fear to manage it.

These are the last election without an asterisk

All independent institutions of the Polish state are at stake. The independence of local governments and free media . Politically independent courts and the office of Ombudsman. Autonomy of culture and universities. Membership and importance of Poland in the EU. Civil rights and freedoms, including the rights of the LGBT+ communities.

At stake is also the secular state without imposed Catholic orthodoxy. As are women's rights, including a potential complete ban on abortion, sexual education and the right to in vitro fertilization.

On June 4, 1989, Poland had its first partially free elections since the dawn of the communist era.  Even though the election was a chance to send a strong message to the communist ruling camp that further democratic reforms are required, only 62.7 percent of citizens went to the ballot box. 

Today, it is imperative that our mobilization is stronger than back then. It is imperative that we verify the activity of all election commissions where votes are being casted. We need to engage with other people, listen to them and convince them to support Rafał Trzaskowski, the democratic candidate.

In Hungary and Belarus "elections" are still taking place, Russians even participate in "referenda". But the winner is always known to everyone well in advance. Another victory of Andrzej Duda means that this soon can also be the case in Poland.

We are at a crossroads. It comes down to our choice. There is no one to blame anymore. There are no foreign invaders, no Russian or German occupying forces, no communist dictatorships. There is only us, with our voting rights and our independence. We will decide our own fate.

Dictatorships take their strength from citizens' inaction. Let us not allow ourselves to be deprived of our freedom. Poles, it is time to choose!

Let us vote for a democrat.

***
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