A daily blog on the thrills, spills, and frequent absurdities of the world's one and only 'non-imperial empire' - as Barroso himself called it - the European Union.

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Friday, 2 December 2011

Federalists Have Gone Too Far for the Polish Opposition

Radek Sikorski: overstepped the mark?

Just when you thought that European politics couldn't be any more unstable, Poland's main opposition party, Law and Justice, has called for Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski to be summoned to the State Tribunal - the Polish equivalent of impeachment - after a controversial speech on European integration. The speech, in which Mr. Sikorski extolled the virtues of a greater German role in dealing with the eurozone crisis - on the grounds that 'no-one else can do it' - and called for the Commission to be given greater powers over national budgets, has been interpreted by Law and Justice as a call for a reduction in Polish national sovereignty - an act that many consider tantamount to treason.

In a interview on public television, conservative liberal Law and Justice party leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski stated his intention to bring the Foreign Minister before the State Tribunal - which decides whether or not politcians have overstepped the bounds of the country's post-war constitution. He also added that 'most Poles do not want Polish independence to be a twenty-year interlude,' and declared that he would hold a 'march for independence' later in the month, following the sabotage by federalist activists of protests by smaller, fringe groups, on November 11th.

The State Tribunal has the power to remove politicians from office, to bar them from any other senior positions, and even render them ineligible to vote. But far more importantly than that, the spectacle of a federalist politician going before it is likely to fuel anti-federalist protests in other countries, who have long called for their politicians to be impeached, and bring discussion of treason trials - hitherto reserved for the hardline elements and the comment board commentariat - into mainstream thought. This could have a chaotic effect on politics in the Adriatic, the Balkans, and Greece, where major media outlets have already taken to denouncing politicians and lawmakers as traitors and saboteurs. If the European Union opposes measures, if brought against Greek politicians, then it could put the Greek people and their technocrat rulers in direct conflict. That's one recipe for disaster.

Of course, all this is why Mr. Sikorsi isn't likely to go to the State Tribunal - at least not because of the opposition leader. But it has underlined the limits of what federalists can do in their traditional heartland, and indicated that they want to go much, much further.

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