On Wednesday, the Polish parliament approved a controversial amendment to the media law. According to the opposition, this threatens the freedom of the press and will damage relations with the United States. The amendment bars foreign companies from holding a majority stake in Polish media. It has already drawn strong criticism from Washington.
The ruling Law and Justice (PIS) party pushed for an amendment that would bar foreign companies from holding majority stakes in Polish media. The passage of the law would most likely lead to the end of the last remaining government-critical TV channel TVN, which is largely owned by American Discovery. PiS sees the law as a way to prevent foreign influence through the press. Opponents are convinced that PiS is tightening the law to silence critics.
Earlier in the day, there was still uncertainty about when the bill would be voted on. Parliament initially voted to postpone the vote, but it was later reconsidered. The amendment’s approval is a major victory for the PiS, with coalition partner Porozumeni resigning on Tuesday after his deputy prime minister Jaroslav Gowin was fired by Prime Minister Matej Moraviecki. The reason for that dismissal was reportedly, among other things, Govin’s refusal to support the new media law. The coalition led by ally PIS accounted for twelve of the 232 seats of the majority.
The voting took place in a turbulent atmosphere due to events surrounding coalition partner Porozumeni. The opposition first managed to adjourn the meeting until 2 September, but the Speaker of the Parliament Elzbeta Witek (PIS) decided to repeat the vote, much to the dismay of the opposition. In that iteration, the government nevertheless made it through, after the majority of MPs were called traitors to the opposition bench.
Following the resignation of Porozumeni, Poland is led by a minority government. Observers point out that the results of Wednesday’s vote show that the PiS has a very precarious majority. Before any vote, the party will have to negotiate with other parties, especially the far right.
The US State Department has already called on Warsaw to demonstrate its commitment to democratic values and freedom of the press. A US State Department spokesman said high-ranking diplomats were in contact with Polish representatives hours before the vote.
Free Unlimited Access to Showbytes? Who can do it?
Log in or create an account and don’t miss any stars.
Amateur web specialist. General food junkie. Typical zombie enthusiast. Avid music trailblazer. Lifelong explorer.