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



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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Portuguese historical films will premiere on 29 December.



Portuguese historical films will premiere on 29 December.

Method Media Bermuda will present the documentary FABRIC: Portuguese History in Bermuda on Thursday, December 29 at the Underwater Research Institute of Bermuda.

A spokesperson said: “Method Media is proud to bring Bermuda Fabric: Portugal History to Bermuda for its 5th and 6th showing at the Bermuda Underwater Observatory. In November and December 2019, Cloth: A Portuguese Story in Bermuda had four sold-out screenings. Now that Bermuda has reopened after the pandemic, it’s time to bring the film back for at least two screenings.

“There are tickets For $ 20 – sessions at 15:30 and 18:00. Both screenings will be followed by a short Q&A session.

Director and producer Milton Raboso says, “FABRIC is a definitive account of the Portuguese community in Bermuda and its 151 years of history, but it also places Bermuda, Acors and Portugal in the world history and the events that have fueled those 151 years.

“It took more than 10 years to implement FABRIC. The film was supported by the Minister of Culture, the Government of the Azores and private donors.

Bermuda Media Method [MMB] Created in 2011 by producer Milton Raposo. MMB has created content for a wide range of clients: Bermuda’s new hospital renovation, reinsurance, travel campaigns, international sports and more. MMB pays special attention to artistic, cultural and historical content.

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Maestro de Braga is the first Portuguese in the National Symphony Orchestra of Cuba.



Maestro de Braga is the first Portuguese in the National Symphony Orchestra of Cuba.

Maestro Filipe Cunha, Artistic Director of the Philharmonic Orchestra of Braga, has been invited to conduct the Cuban National Symphony Orchestra, as announced today.

According to a statement sent by O MINHO, “he will be the first Portuguese conductor to conduct this orchestra in its entire history.”

In addition to this orchestra, the maestro will also work with the Lyceo Mozarteum de la Habana Symphony Orchestra.

The concerts will take place on 4 and 12 March 2023 at the National Theater of Cuba in Havana.

In the words of the maestro, quoted in the statement, “these will be very beautiful concerts with difficult but very complex pieces” and therefore he feels “very motivated”.

From the very beginning, Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 will be performed by an Italian pianist (Luigi Borzillo), whom the maestro wants to bring to Portugal later this year. In the same concert, Mendelshon’s First Symphony will be performed.

Then, at the second concert, in the company of the Mexican clarinetist Angel Zedillo, he will perform the Louis Sfora Concerto No. 2. In this concert, the maestro also conducts Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony.

“This is an international recognition of my work. An invitation that I accept with humility and great responsibility. I was surprised to learn that I would be the first Portuguese member of the Cuban National Symphony Orchestra. This is a very great honor,” the maestro said in a statement.

“I take with me the name of the city of Braga and Portugal with all the responsibility that goes with it, and I hope to do a good job there, leaving a good image and putting on great concerts. These will be very special concerts because, in addition to performing pieces that I love, especially Rachmaninov and Tchaikovsky, I will be directing two wonderful soloists who are also my friends. It will be very beautiful,” concludes Filipe Cunha.

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