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What can be taught by Poland’s ‘ghost election’ about pandemic era democracy

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How vote-by-mail could change the 2020 election

No, this is not the United States. This dynamic takes place in Poland, which is scheduled to hold a presidential election earlier this month. Concerns about the virus and protracted partisan setbacks caused delays, last-minute mess – and for the remnants of uncertainty about when and how new elections will take place.

The result was “the selection of strange ghosts,” as a news organization call it – election day where no one voted and there was no open polling place – was the culmination of weeks of political battles between the ruling Law and Justice Party (PiS) and the Polish opposition party. Although the election date was set before the virus hit Poland, PiS leaders insisted that the election should proceed according to plan, worried that candidates would fight in the next election when Poland began to feel the economic impact of the pandemic. They introduced a law in early April that would impose an unprecedented vote on all 10 May.
But opposition leaders and international observers strongly oppose this plan, saying reforms are pushed too fast – and that such elections, especially under a government that has been criticized for its approach to democracy and the rule of law, amounting to a power struggle by PiS and its incumbent president, Andrzej Duda. As a result, PiS leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski announced only four days in advance that the vote would not actually take place; Election officials later considered it invalid and called for new elections on a date to be determined this summer.
Holding elections during a pandemic is not an easy task, as countries such as Poland have learned: In changing circumstances, officials need to balance the protection of public health by ensuring the democratic right of citizens to vote. At least 62 countries in the world, from Britain to Italy to Ethiopia to Bolivia, have choose to postpone the selection because of the spread of the virus. Others, including France, the southern German state of Bavaria, and some WE stated, has advanced with direct elections despite fears that the vote could potentially harm citizens.

But while there are no guidelines for safe and fair elections during the coronavirus crisis, Poland’s experience offers several important lessons for other countries that navigate these questions, including the US: Doing this means planning as early as possible – and somehow finding ways to set aside political alignments to produce a voting plan that everyone believes is fair.

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In Poland, political polarization is at the heart of why the situation turns into uncertainty – and why the debate about new elections may be almost as difficult as what will happen on 10 May. Even if it is possible organizationally it is possible for Poland. to move at the last minute to a ballot by mail, the ability to prepare for elections effectively doesn’t mean much if you can’t find a political consensus on how to do it.

When no party trusts the other party to act in the best interests of citizens, it affects the way people view their democracy. And this “greatly influences trust in electoral institutions,” said Zselyke Csaky, director of research for Europe and Eurasia at the Freedom House democracy watchdog. “That is a very serious concern, because it is one of the most important elements of a functioning democracy.”

As in the US, control in the Polish parliament was divided: The ruling party coalition narrowly controlled the lower house, Sejm, while the opposition narrowly controlled the upper house, the Senate. When Sejm passed a law mandating an all-mail ballot in early April, the opposition used it constitutional ability to delay statute, ultimately taking a full 30 days is permitted. This means that the law will be held until May 6, only four days before the supposed election, which leads to a last-minute struggle.

All of this could have been avoided if the PiS politicians had proposed constitutional provisions called “natural disaster conditions,” which under conditions such as a pandemic would automatically postpone elections for at least 90 days. But once the PiS leaders insisted the election was carried out according to schedule, they did not want to back off and change direction – even when leaked ballots and ballots appeared on the road asserting that the selection of papers was not ready.

Widowers, candidates who are aligned with the PiS, also benefit from incumbency power, something which, at least in this case, was even worse during the pandemic with voters who were mostly trapped at home. As sitting president, Widower could travel throughout the country, visit hospitals and talk about government actions to fight the virus – many of which were then broadcast live to voters by state television, controlled by and sympathize with ruling party.
Opposition candidates, on the other hand, are left struggling to organize press conferences through Zoom and move their entire campaign online. Malgorzata Kidawa-Blonska, a candidate for the Community Coalition, the largest opposition party, suspended his campaign in protest and urged supporters to boycott the May 10 elections; one survey in early April suggested some Poles had planned to vote.
Postponing the election provides a much needed reprieve for Poland, and when the debate is open about what will happen next, some in the opposition are optimistic that things will be handled a little better this time. Legislation that requires direct voting with the option of voting by mail already considered, fund new election date – possibly by the end of June or early July – is expected to be fixed soon. The Civic Coalition announced earlier this month that it had chosen a new candidate for the new election, Warsaw mayor Rafal Trzaskowski, who had already received significant results in the polls.

But those on the opposition still have great concern about the inherent benefits that Duda will receive as incumbent, and about the PiS’s willingness to give the scales as he wishes wherever they can.

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“There is a greater likelihood that elections will be free, but they will not be free in terms of an equal campaign,” said Milosz Hodun, an adviser to the liberal Nowoczesna (“Modern”) party, which is part of the Community Coalition. “Only the president can campaign throughout the country … all other candidates are limited to the presence of the media and online.”

The US also faces a deep political polarization that is increasingly exacerbated by this pandemic; President Trump has pitted himself against governors – especially Democrats – who have imposed stronger restrictions on fighting the virus, using his bully pulpit to call for the country to reopen as soon as possible. With each country responsible for setting its own election rules and regulations before the national elections in November, the debate over letters compared to direct voting, and access given by each country, is likely to fall along partisan lines; like Poland, this might also mean that every change only applies at the last minute.

Polish observers hope their country has learned from the failure of “ghost” elections – and that the country can immediately hold elections that run better and fairer than those that did not happen earlier this month. Others, especially the US, must pay attention as they do.

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Eternal Portuguese deja vu – Renaissance

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Eternal Portuguese deja vu - Renaissance

At the end of the summer of 1972, exactly half a century ago, SEDES – Associação para o Desenvolvimento Económico e Social (the most famous reformist think tank during Marseilles) issued a document for the country entitled “Portugal: The country we are, the country we want to be “. The Marseille spring had already turned into autumn: Américo Thomas had just been re-elected, the colonial war had dragged on, repression had intensified, and an economic crisis was already brewing. Seeing the general frustration, and at the same time willing to go against it, the signatories of CEDES began by asking “Where will we be and how will we be in 1980?” to criticize the obstacles that overshadowed Portugal in the early 1970s.

Among the “problems that are getting worse without a solution”, emigration stood out, indicating the country’s inability to offer better living and working conditions to those who left; the growing inflationary process, reflected in the cost of living; the inevitability of economic integration in Europe when the country is not ready for international commercial competition; “disaggregation of regional economies” with “continuous depopulation of municipalities and regions” within the country; or “deterioration of public administration” when the government fails to promote a “prestigious, moralized, revitalized and efficient public sector”. “No one will have any difficulty,” continued the text, “to add to a new list of urgent questions that seriously endanger national life, about which much has been said and which, year after year, continue to wait for a sufficient solution.” Therefore, “the prevailing feeling in the country” in contemplation of the recent past and present could not but be “annoyance at urgent battles, the need for which was endlessly discussed, at decisions that were changed or postponed, and at rejected goals” or which were not clearly formulated ” .

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Between “untapped resources” and/or “lack of organizational and decision-making capacity” there was “widespread anxiety” stemming from the inevitable observation that “we are very far from the results that we could achieve thanks to the progress of the Portuguese and Portugal”. This was the macro goal of the reformist, humanist and liberalizing technocrats that SEDES brought together. “Ultimately,” they reminded Marcelo Cayetano, “the real obstacle can only be associated with the low political priority of economic and social development in our country.” So, in short, there was an urgent need to “radically change our economic, social and political way of life”, since “a national balance based on general anemia, repression and weakening of various participants” is unsustainable and pernicious.

SEDES did not know that the Estado Novo would fall in April 1974, that democracy would come in 1976, and Europe from the EEC (after EFTA) in 1986 of repression, finally gained the freedom that was discussed between the lines of the 1972 manifesto ., there would be conditions for solving (almost) all economic and social problems of development and cohesion.

Fifty years have passed since this manifesto, and almost the same number has already been in democracy. However, if we compare the above quotes with the Portuguese present, the feeling of deja vu is indescribable. SEDES wondered what the country would be like in 1980 and is wondering today (in its recent study “Ambition: Doubling GDP in 20 Years”) where we will be in 2040. It may be a replay of a sad fate: knowing (some) where to go, but never getting there!

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Algeria interested in Portuguese companies investing in renewable energy – Observer

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Algeria interested in Portuguese companies investing in renewable energy - Observer

Foreign Minister João Gomes Cravinho met this Wednesday with his Algerian counterpart Ramtan Lamamra, who expressed interest in Portuguese companies investing in Algeria’s solar and wind energy.

Speaking with Lusa, João Cravinho also said that for 2023 it was decided to hold a “high-level meeting chaired by the prime ministers” of the two countries, a meeting to be held in Algiers, in addition to the state visit of the President of Algeria. Algeria to Portugal.

The Portuguese foreign minister said today’s visit to Algeria, where he was with Ramtan Lamamra, whom he has known since 2005 when he was ambassador to Lisbon, is “based on old knowledge”, but also a visit to a country that “does not to be a neighbor”, shares “a lot of fears”. “Not being a neighboring country, it almost shares many concerns about the region, the Mediterranean, the European Union’s relationship with Africa and the Arab world. It was important for us to talk about what we can do together as part of the geopolitical and geo-economic transformation,” he explained.

João Cravinho stressed that the issue of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was a factor “which could not but be the subject of dialogue”, and also added that “geo-economic issues related to energy, renewable energy sources and the opportunities that come with the digital transition” also were on the table.

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“While Algeria is a major exporter of fossil fuels, it is also a country with huge potential in terms of solar and wind energy. We have very qualified companies in these areas, and the Algerian side has expressed interest in [ter] Portuguese investors in these areas,” the minister said.

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The official said that it would be a matter of working with the Portuguese Agency for Investment and Foreign Trade (AICEP), with the Secretary of State for Internationalization, as well as with a sectoral ministry, namely the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change. A “high-level meeting chaired by the prime ministers” of the two countries is scheduled for 2023, a meeting to be held in Algiers, in addition to the Algerian President’s state visit to Portugal.

“We have a very busy calendar between the two countries. Now we will try to organize a mixed commission, where technical specialists from both countries will gather,” he said, stressing that there are “14 legal documents that are practically finalized and will be signed” in 2023.

João Gomes Cravinho was on a visit to Algiers today to assess bilateral relations in the economic sphere, as well as in terms of cooperation, language and culture, and to discuss international issues.

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PORTUGUESE PARACHET JUMP IN THE NETHERLANDS

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PORTUGUESE PARACHET JUMP IN THE NETHERLANDS

Members of the Airborne Operational Battalion of the Parachute Regiment of the Portuguese Army during the annual Falcon Jump exercise on September 17, 2022 over the Ede launch zone, 18 km west of Arnhem, in the province of Gelderland, the Netherlands. A Portuguese skydiver is equipped with a SPEKON RS 2000 parachute from the German manufacturer SPEKON Sächsische Spezialkonfekion GmbH. Above him are US paratroopers with T-11 parachutes.

Photo by M. Bienik | 6 barrels per day

The annual Falcon Leap 2022 exercise, based in Eindhoven, in the south of the Netherlands, took place from 5 to 16 September 2022 in the Netherlands and Belgium. During the first week, the exercise focused on cargo drop operations, and the second week focused on drop operations. It was attended by more than 1 thousand soldiers representing 13 countries, including Portugal, with the participation of the Operational Detachment of 22 soldiers from the Airborne Operational Battalion of the Parachute Regiment of the Ground Forces.

The exercise officially ended on September 17, 2022, commemorating the 78th anniversary of Operation Market Garden, which began on the same day in 1944, during World War II, as part of the largest airborne operation in which more than 40,000 troops serving in the 1st Airborne Division of Great Britain, the 1st Independent Parachute Brigade of Poland, the 101st and 82nd Airborne Divisions of the United States of America. These commemorations were marked by the launch of paratroopers over the original drop zones of the Operation.

The photo was taken by the Polish soldier M. Benek, seconded to the 6th Airborne Brigade (BPD) – Brigadier General Stanisław Sosabowski, a unit that is the result of the historical legacy of the 1st Separate Polish Airborne Brigade, which jumped during the operation ” Bazaar Garden “, in 1944 under the command of General. Stanislav Sosabovsky – whose name is a suffix (as patron) of the current unit.

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Article published in partnership with “Espada & Escudo”

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