It is a relief that the opposition is walking back on its support for the scandalous project proposed by the Law and Justice party providing for massive salary increases for MPs, senators, the entire government and the president. It is too early to tell whether the crisis has been completely resolved, but at least there is light at the end of the tunnel. Most importantly, there is now a chance to get out of the embarrassing situation.
I do not share the opinion of people saying that it is too late for the opposition and thus is impossible to fix its mistake, especially since the opposition leaders' expiation comes after immense pressure from the media. I believe that it is never too late to make a good, honest move, to own your mistake and to apologize. Borys Budka deserves some appreciation for taking the burden off responsibility for the wrong decision. Same goes for other opposition MPs who have since directly apologized to the voters. Of course, special appreciation should go to those who did not yield to the pressure of party colleagues and blackmail of the party authorities and were against the immoral law already during last Friday's vote.
And as for the pressure, I do not see it as a negative circumstance. To the contrary, perhaps media pressure is the most important aspect of the matter. If it was not for the free media, Poles would not have learnt about the sneaky money grab plan and would not be aware of the details of the political transaction which would have linked the wage increases for MPs with more money for the entire ruling camp. It was the independent media that explicitly criticised the shameful agreement between the Law and Justice party and the opposition, reminded the opposition leaders that the country is in crisis, published the voices of disappointed voters, and called for restraint and decency.
If Law and Justice had its way and the only media in Poland would be those fully dependent on the ruling camp, the public opinion would learn about everything only after the fact. The pro-government online media outlet of the Karnowski brothers referred to the increases as something absolutely normal. And now the Karnowskis are digging into the details of the financial situation of the opposition senator Jacek Bury, who called for restraint on the matter given the economic crisis. The implicit accusation made by the outlet is clear: "The guy has plenty of money, so he can be against the bill".
Tomasz Sakiewicz, the head of "Gazeta Polska" which competes with the Karnowskis' website in the race to "Kaczyński's ear", has gone even further. As he said, the higher wages for those in power "is a very good decision" and "the state should not be cheap". Of course, he meant the Law and Justice party state.
I won't even mention the narrative pushed forward by the public broadcaster.
This is what free media is for. To look at the hands of the authorities and, when necessary, the opposition. To take the side of the citizens and remind politicians of the rules.
That's why the current government is going after independent media. All these calls for "deconcentration" or "repolonization", all these more or less open threats, calling the independent journalists as being at behest of the "Germans" or serving as "Soros's minions" are nothing but an expression of frustration and powerlessness.
The ideal of Law and Justice is a country where the only media are run by people like the Karnowski brothers, Sakiewicz and Jacek Kurski at TVP. In such a country, former Minister of Finance Marian Banaś would still make profits from the renting his building to panderers, former speaker of Sejm Marek Kuchciński and his family would have a government plane at every call, Minister of Health Łukasz Szumowski's friends would build an even bigger fortune off the pandemic, and Jarosław Kaczyński would have built his two towers in Warsaw a long time ago.
Only in such a world one can swindle the public coffers at will and turn the state into its own cash cow. A world without free media, without public pressure or any scrutiny.
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