Public sphere was mostly occupied with a discussion around the Eastern lockdown and related governmental policies:
- Critique of the Eastern lockdown timeline being from the 27.03 till 09.04, ending conveniently a day before the 11th Smoleńsk catastrophe anniversary --> sparked both anger and laughter.
- Churches remaining open despite all other places for public gatherings remain closed.
- A construction of a new energy plant Elektrownia Ostrołęka was suddenly stopped, costing the state 1,3 billion PLN. The plant was supposed to be the last coal-opperating plant to be build in Poland. Local politicians responsible for the investment, and the construction’s management all have strong ties with the Law and Justice party. More on the topic here. The controversy around the construction stoppage made another major financial controversy related to the rule of PiS, expect recent Obajtek controversies, surface yet again - the 70 billion zlotys spent by Jacek Sasin, PiS politician, a vice PM, and a minister of state assets in the second cabinet of the current prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki, who paid the Polish Post for printing voting cards for the May presidential elections, before it was confirmed whether or not they are postponed.
- Generally speaking, in march the edge of critique towards the government was focusing on corruption and nepotism, across the political spectrum of the opposition.
Zuzanna 20.03. Original transcript here.
In her late 20s, has a master degree in arts from the Academy of Fine Arts, a sculpture, and a graphic artist.
Social media-wise, she is an avid Instagram user, both privately and to promote her work.
She struggles with unemployment throughout the pandemic.
Left-wing, votes Left.
Main motives in the interview:
She talks a lot about generational differences between her grandparents, her parents, her and her brother.
She thinks growing up in different times is a key explanation of differences within her family. Her family was undertaking private initiatives during the communist times, was strongly anti-socialist
Globalisation, being part of the EU
- It’s important as it serves as a guarantee of freedoms for LGBTQ rights, women rights, of the fairness of the judicial system.
- Open boarders are what makes young Poles more cosmpolitan, and helps them learn languages, through Erasmus program, or freedom to travel across Europe.
- "We are a part of something bigger, and now, that we know languages no one looks at us like we are from the middle of nowhere".
The role of Church
- The Church as an oppressive entity that give her traumatic experiences of first communion and needing to confess imagined signs, as she feared if she has no signs that must certainly be something wrong with her.
- She cannot however sign out of the Catholic Church not to offend her mother’s feelings.
- She is a family person, and it’s super important to her not to offend anybody in the family, despite various political views in her family.
- She perceives traditions as important, she likes holidays, including the religious one’s for their family value.
- She votes left, is a feminist, doesn’t have conservative views regarding sexuality, doesn’t want to have children.
- For her Polishness means being engaged, lack of indifference.
- She doesn’t feel connected to the Polish en mass, when she goes to the countryside she feels there like an alien. “It’s hard to feel connected with the Polish naród/nation if one doesn’t feel connected to the Polish countryside, which is a huge part of what the state is”.
- Her identity revolves around being from Warsaw, from where her family is from, generations on end.
National television is pure propaganda, and cannot be trusted. She watches it when visiting grandparents, who take on whatever the TVP serves.
According to her the national Telewizja Polska = PiS, the Law and Justice Party. Those media are now party media, not independent any more.
Women’s reproductive rights
She would like to have an abortion on demand right.
She’s worried that the total abortion ban will force women to get abortions illegal, in dangerous conditions, or if they can afford it - go abroad, to Czech or Germany.
She’s also worried that this will take a form of Cathilic religious shariat
TVP, in her narrative, highlighted that protesting women waznt to burn churches, and Zuzanna’s grandma thought it was true.
Some context: In October 2020, Polish Constitutional Tribute ruled that abortion based on the
After the Strajk Kobiet (Women’s Strike) protests in October 2020, in solidarity with Polish women, women in Germany (Berlin) and Czechia (Praha) decide to set support networked called, Ciocia Basia, and Ciocia Czesia, respectively.
More information on this can be found here: https://krytykapolityczna.pl/kraj/ciocia-czesia-basia-wienia-aborcja/
Ewelina 23.03. Original transcript here
- She’s a retired high-school teacher, she taught Polish language.
- Used to be a party member, in the Ruch Palikota.
- Votes left, anti-clerical.
- From Warsaw.
- Uses Facebook extensively for news.
Main motives in the interview:
- She spent most of the pandemic indoors, having help when it comes to shopping from a local volunteer.
- Her family isolates so she could be visited by them regularly.
- Perceives governmental policies as ridiculous at times, like regulations regarding the closing of the parks in the early days of the pandemic - and she has a dog that she walks. In the same time, she says that politicians are stupid, not intelligent enough to predict hence plan well ahead, risking lives of many with their policy of turning particular hospitals into covid-only, making it for many to receive treatment on other diseases.
Swedish case where the government relayed only on epidemiology experts was the way to go. Interestingly, she doesn’t regret the death of people in the social care houses who died because of the no lockdown politics. She is against lockdown for the sake of the economy.
- Corrupted healthcare, lack of coordination, lack of smart spending - money that the state gives to the Church should be all spent on fighting the pandemic.
- She believes that people are afraid of vaccines because they don’t know enough, and she did a lot of her research to learn about it.
- She thinks anti-vaxxers are blind, often fanatic, it’s really hard to convince them - and she tries to do it online.
- She supports restrictions for those who do not vaccinate.
- Ewelina was brought up to be secular, he’s doesn’t like the Church.
She believes the Church hierarchs run the country, hence **Poland isn’t a secular state. **
- The Church thrives on illiterate, on those who are not well-read, and don’t get things.
Church = PiS = stupid people, yet it wasn’t always like that - wife of Kaczyński’s older brother, both died in the plane crash on the 10.04.2010, wasn’t liked by one of the most influential Polish priests Ojciec Rydzyk.
- Abortion rights - "we are going back to Medieval Ages, it’s like not believing in the Copernicus’s theory.
Polish state and the politics
- She’s doesn’t feel represented anymore, as her party is no more. She voted in the presidential election on the Civic Platform Party (centre-right, the core of the opposition in Poland).
- She believes the Church is a reason why PiS is strong in Poland.
- Politics are all about who supports whom.
Ala 24.03, original transcript here
- Ala is an undergraduate student from a village near Olsztyn in the North of Poland, that studies pedagogy and art in Kraków.
- She used to be very religious, but her bubble “burst” when the abortion protests started in Poland the last year.
- She would vote for the Left, she is middle class.
Main motives in the interview:
- She used to love Church - in secondary school she went through conversion/she felt a calling to become more engaged in the Church and religious life.
- Throughout the years she remembers that Church’s teaching on abortion and anticonception used to bother her a lot.
"I don’t want that faith it that faith does such horrible things".
- The Church shouldn’t engage in politics.
- She taught, for a while, that those in the Church who are against LGBT rights and reproductive rights are minority because she was a part of a progressive Catholic youth group.
- She doesn’t feel represented in the country and thinks about migration - she’s not afraid of her language skills, she’s part of the generation that does not remember Poland not being in the EU.
- She believes in democracy and the state, although she feels that her generation doesn’t have representation, and worst, doesn’t have political consciousness
- She was voting “only not for Duda” (PiS candidate).
- She thinks younger generations need guidance on how to be more politically active and build political identity:
"No one taught me how to verify candidates. It wasn’t in schools. Online there isn’t much on the subject either, that teaches how to verify, anything, when it comes to politics. Everybody complaints that I don’t understand and hence I don’t get involved. Or everyone is complaining, that the youth doesn’t understand [politics] and doesn’t get involved. But I am sitting here [at home], and I am trying to understand and get involved, but there is no one to show me how."
- In the first run of the presidential elections she voted for Robert Biedroń, candidate of the Left, even though she knew he doesn’t have a chance to win, but she wanted to vote for someone that represents her values. In the next round, she voted for Trzaskowski against Duda.
- After Trzaskowski lost, even though he was so close, and after she got involved in convincing her close ones to vote for him, she was devasted to learn of him losing the race. She felt that she doesn’t “have much to say in this country”.
- She doesn’t remember someone who she was rooting for won elections. representation
- She needs her leftist bubble not to get crazy - and that’s from where she gets her information, social media.
Her PiS voting family
- Her parents are PiS voters - her mother is immune to any arguments for the case of women’s reproductive rights, she’s “very postprl”.
- She sees her parents as extremely blindfolded, and she is surprised that “even though they grew up in the 80’s, the remember the Marshall law being introduced, they still don’t see that the national TV is propaganda”.
- "In the begging [of the protests] I was just very very angry".
- "I was sure if there is so much of us going out in the pandemic to the streets, so [they] need to do something"
- She feels privileged that she can just leave the country if anything happens - because of her family support, her boyfriend, his family, their views.
- Protests seemed to have united many different people with different political views.
- Almost two years of her course went by during the pandemic and she feels like she lost a lot.
- For her parents their friends and the local community are the sources of information. Her mother was hesitant towards vaccinations, but her aunt who is a nurse convinced her. local authorities and relatives over expert authorities
- Anti-vaxxers got really scary now, while earlier were an object of ridicule.
Monika, 22-24.03, original transcript here
- Lives in a smaller city, lower middle class.
- Votes for Hołownia, Catholic lib-dem.
- Didn’t study, self-taught to be a shop decorator.
- Lives with her boyfriend, used to vote right, now center-right.
- She’s around 30 years old.
Main motives in the interview
- She used to vote for PiS, but because of the abortion right, she won’t anymore.
- She thinks the compromise that was before was a good solution.
- The sudden decision to have the court decide whether the right to have an abortion is constitutional was a way to cover up something else, but she doesn’t know what. The government didn’t think the backlash will be so huge though - distrust towards the ruling party.
- The situation with women’s rights in Poland it’s because "the way our mothers and grandmothers were brought up - traditionalism, but new generations are different.
- She doesn’t agree with feminists who pushes for women to work in coalmines, she likes men to be galant, but doesn’t want women to be perceived, valued based on being mothers/not being them - change in gender roles, expectations.
- She appreciates the help of the state, she seems to empathize with it.
Politics and Policies
- She supports social governmental support, but controlled one, and not raising vat taxes on foods in the shops.
- She doesn’t feel presented anymore - she was voting for PiS and Konfederacja, before Kaczyński “went crazy”, and so did Konfa
- PiS doesn’t really support the Church, just to gain votes.
- PiS and the Church are overly hating of the LGBT, and she doesn’t understand why they are against LGBT adoption rights.
Justyna 24.03, original transcript here
- A mother of two, with serious health issues in the family.
- Didn’t want to share the city she leaves in or her profession, but I would suspect she is a middle-lower class from a mid-size Polish city.
- Her hobby is fast racing motorbikes!
- She used to vote for PiS, but now supports Szymon Hołownia’s Polska2050, which is a chd party.
Main motives in the interview:
Women rights and protests
- She thinks what was said, the polarization that came out of it, is a political impasse.
- There is no space for a debate.
- Even though she doesn’t agree with all the statements of the Strajk Kobiet, she is devasted with what will happen to the medical progress we have regarding pregnancy health.
- Even though she’s conservative and practicing Catholic, she believes motherhood is an individual decision - she hard her children very early and was criticized for it.
- She was devasted by the police brutality and says that people became indifferent over the years to the suffering of others.
- “People stopped believing they can do anything about the current situation, they live from one day to another.”.
- The pandemic has weakened social ties and made people live in their bubbles more, polarizing society.
- Public healthcare system is chaos, she is impressed by how medical personal is trying to make through it - trust towards medical experts, also due to personal health issues
- Lockdown affected many of her friends, though not her personally.
- Education of her children is a horror - closing of the schools affected parent’s professional life, hinders family budget, makes children lag behind with the program, and isn’t beneficial for child’s development - due to an increased screen time.
- Big Pharma raising prices of basic medical supplies, such as gloves and masks to earn more.
- The government is not able to handle the pandemic.
- Extra rescue funds are not enough to save the economy. - she doesn’t say though the lockdown is bad.
Media and information
- She thinks people consume media in a very shallow manner and are prone to be quick to repeat, without making sure they really understand what they are talking about.
- She thinks PiS voters are mostly afraid of losing the financial support the party offers them - she can see it in her neighborhood.
- PiS voters may not agree with what the government is doing with women’s reproductive rights, but they pretend not to see because it is just more convenient for them, they are to lazy, and afraid to lose public social support/their privileges.
- Older generation doesn’t give a shit about the future as they are going to be dead soon/
Populist PiS policies
- She says that though the majority of the PiS voters seem to be retired, many people get around 1000 pln a month after working their entire adult lives.
"People take what they give, but don’t think about the costs" - public debt.
Way out of it
She votes for Hołownia and believes in changing lifestyle to more ecological to save our lives - environmentalist Catholicism.
- She hopes he will be representing Poland in the EU as someone young, intelligent, and eloquent. She feels he represents her - feels represented.
- The future is possible only with a different government.
She believes PiS will make Poland leave the EU and this will be our end. Generations to come won’t be able to make up for this loss.