Irish Examiner view: Poland's narrow vote a threat to the EU

The country's rejection of tolerance is the latest fundamental threat to European stability
Irish Examiner view: Poland's narrow vote a threat to the EU
Incumbent President Andrzej Duda flashes a victory sign in Pultusk, Poland. Picture: AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski

The re-election, albeit by a very narrow margin, of Andrzej Duda as Poland's president means that country joins America and Britain, others too, in a cohort of bitterly and dangerously divided countries. Those countries are so split that the normal dynamics of democracy - respect, tolerance, and a willingness to compromise - are lost in deepening hostility and cultural conflict.

That Poland's National Electoral Commission said Mr Duda had won 51.2% of the votes shows the polarity of that division. That the vote almost mirrors the Brexit 52/48 vote may not be overly significant but it does underline how tiny electoral margins can lead to huge social change.

That change has been underway in Poland for some years, the normal anchors of democracy - the courts, the police, the public service, and the media - have been compromised and reflect the deeply conservative views of the ruling nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) party.  

Mr Duda's victory may lead to a further undermining of Poland's judiciary and hardened opposition to abortion and gay rights.  During the campaign, he said LGBT rights were an "ideology" more destructive than communism.

Poland's rejection of the tolerance at the very core of the European project and fellow EU member Hungary's regression into an autocratic darkness, a possible hard Brexit and growing Italian discontent too, represent fundamental changes to the European stability this society's prosperity and social development rely on. Even in a world so alive with challenge we cannot underestimate the scale of that threat.

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