When Poland’s ruling rightwing Law and Justice party (PiS) published proposals in July 2017 to give the government direct control over the judiciary, hundreds of thousands of Poles took to the streets, holding vigils in front of courthouses and carrying banners with slogans such as “Free courts” and “Freedom, equality, democracy”.
But according to a programme on national broadcaster TVP’s news channel, the protesters had a secret agenda guided by a hostile foreign power. The scenes on the street, it said, were a “street revolt to bring Islamic immigrants to Poland” and backed by EU leaders as revenge for the refusal of PiS to accept migrants under a European relocation scheme.
Another programme on the channel, part of a network funded by a mix of TV licence revenues and advertising, described opponents as “defenders of paedophiles and alimony-dodgers”.
Such language has been par for the course since PiS passed legislation to give itself direct control of the public broadcaster soon after its victory in parliamentary elections in 2015, raising concerns about Poland’s media environment ahead of Sunday’s parliamentary election. Aggressively partisan news coverage routinely portrays the government’s opponents as scheming to frustrate the will and wellbeing of the Polish people, as embodied by PiS. Government policies are “good for Poles” while the opposition’s are “empty promises”.
With just days left of a campaign in which PiS has tried to mobilise its conservative base with attacks on LGBT rights, TVP is set on Thursday night to broadcast a self-styled documentary called Invasion which promises to reveal “the inside story, aims, methods, and money behind the LGBT invasion” of Poland.
You can read my report for the Guardian here.