Poland passed controversial law to muzzle the press – 11/08/2021

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WARSAW, August 12, 2021 (AFP) – The Polish parliament on Wednesday approved a controversial law that, according to the opposition, threatens freedom of the press, and could damage relations with the United States. But the ruling coalition has also lost significant votes, casting doubt on its long-term future.

The controversial media law, criticized by Washington, could force American conglomerate Discovery to sell a majority of its stake in Polish closed television network TVN, which criticizes the government led by the Law and Justice (PIS) party. The text was approved in 2016 with 228 votes to 10.

Parliament’s decision constitutes “an unprecedented attack against freedom of expression and the freedom of the media”, declared TVN’s direction in a statement this Wednesday night. “The result of the vote undermines property rights, which worries foreign investors in Poland,” he said. “Without a doubt, it also undermines the foundation of the alliance between Poland and the United States that has been built over the past 30 years,” said the broadcaster’s management, who called on the Senate and the president to reject the legislation. .

US diplomacy chief Antony Blinken said he was “deeply concerned” about the legislation being passed. The Secretary of State speculated, “This bill will significantly undermine the media environment that the Polish people have created with so much work,” adding that the bill “goes against the principles and values ​​that the modern and democratic nation holds.” keep it up.”

– Four lost votes –

The parliamentary session was a delicate session for the government of Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, whose three-party coalition had torn apart a day earlier due to the forced removal of the leader of one of the minority parties.

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Unprecedented since taking power in 2015, ultra-conservatives lost four votes during the debate, but managed to pass the media law. It is an important text for the PiS, which already controls the public television TVP, which has become a government propaganda tool and a large part of the regional press.

The Polish government is repeatedly accused by the European Union of taking away democratic freedoms in the country. Thousands of people demonstrated against the law in different parts of Poland this Tuesday night.

The breakup of the coalition does not mean the automatic collapse of the government, as a formal vote of confidence in Parliament is necessary. The government can rule in a minority.

According to observers, the result of today’s vote shows that the PiS has an indefinite majority and will have to negotiate with representatives of other parties, especially those with the far right, before each vote.


Discovery Communications

About the author: Sarah Gracie

Sarahis a reporter covering Amazon. She previously covered tech and transportation, and she broke stories on Uber's finances, self-driving car program, and cultural crisis. Before that, she covered cybersecurity in finance. Sarah's work has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Politico, and the Houston Chronicle.

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