During a volleyball match between Poland and Germany last night, Polish fans unfurled a giant banner reading, “Protect your women, not our democracy!” They were referencing the New Year’s Eve sex attacks and recent European Union (EU) threats to suspend Polish voting rights due to actions of their new right wing government.
The Polish men’s volleyball team lost the qualifying game for the 2016 Olympics 2 – 3 on Friday. However, some fans walked away from the Berlin match feeling as if they had won a minor political victory.
Polish sports fans have form when it comes to making bold statements regarding mass migration and EU authoritarianism at prominent fixtures. Football (soccer) fans unveiled an enormous anti mass migration banner at game in November, blaming the EU for importing terrorism into Europe following the Paris attacks.
Conservative factions in the country are similarly repulsed by the mass sexual assaults on New Year’s Eve, perpetrated mostly by migrants and refugees. The Polish volleyball fans, it seems, place the blame firmly on the shoulders of Angela Merkel for inviting 1.5 million unchecked migrants into Europe this year.
— Marek Anthony (@Anthony_Marek) January 9, 2016
The latter half of the banner pertains to recently made threats by the EU to sanction the Polish government, a threat which many in Poland blame on Germany.
In November last year Poland’s Eurosceptic Law and Justice party (PiS) won a landslide majority in the general election, becoming the first party to govern without coalition partners since the end of communism. Every single left wing MP was eradicated from the legislature.
The new government’s actions thereafter have repeatedly irked much of the liberal establishment in Brussels and Berlin.
Once in power, one of the first things PiS did was to tear up the previous government’s commitment to take in thousands of migrants from across the EU as part of the continent-wide mandatory resettlement programme.
They also moved to implement legislation designed to give the new conservative government control of state media outlets and the sole power to appoint executives to senior broadcasting positions.
European Commissioner Günther Oettinger then accused Poland of infringing “common European values” and threatened the country with immediate sanctions coupled with legal action.
However, the Polish president, Andrzej Duda, has already signed the media bill into law. Now, the move could trigger a series of steps that may eventually see Warsaw stripped of voting rights at the European Council, the organisation that groups the leaders of all 28 EU nations.
Many Polish citizens who voted for PiS and their policies feel that such sanctions are designed to impede the democratic will of the Polish people and violate their national sovereignty.
(The video below is from the Silesian Wrocław’s match against Poznań in November 2015.)