Polish immigration referendum is about political discourse – not citizens, says opposition lawmaker – EURACTIV.com

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The immigration referendum to be held in October is entirely political and the government does not care about the minds of the Polish people, said opposition Civic Platform MP Michał Szczerba.

Earlier this summer, the leader of the conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party, Jarosław Kaczyński, announced a referendum on accepting migrants under the EU’s proposed program. Later, the government added three more questions.

“It’s a political plebiscite. PiS does not care about the minds of Poles, it only focuses on building a proper political discourse and on topics that suit it,” Szczerba told EURACTIV.pl.

At the same time, he added that the ruling party is diverting its attention from issues that are really important to the Polish people, such as high prices, corruption and the government’s anti-European attitude.

Ryszard Legutko, PiS MEP and co-leader of the European Conservative and Reform Party, responded that the referendum concerns crucial issues for the Polish people and that any decision taken on this basis could be reversed once the current opposition will have taken power. power.

In July, parliament adopted an amendment allowing national elections and referendums to be held on the same day. The referendum will therefore take place at the same time as the legislative elections on October 15.

The referendum will consist of four questions. The first concerns “support for the sale of state assets to foreign entities, which would result in the Polish people losing control over strategic sectors of the economy.” The second concerns the increase in the retirement age to 67 for both men and women.

In the third question, voters will be asked whether they support dismantling the fence on the border between Poland and Belarus. The last question concerns the problem from which the discussion on the referendum started: “accepting thousands of illegal immigrants from the Middle East and Africa, in accordance with the forced relocation mechanism imposed by the European bureaucracy”.

The European Commission, as well as the Swedish Presidency of the Council of the EU, have repeatedly reiterated that the system proposed by the Commission and approved by the Council does not imply compulsory relocation of asylum seekers but compulsory solidarity, under which each Member State can choose whether it wishes to contribute to migration management by participating in relocations, providing financial assistance or providing operational support.

Poland and Hungary were the only countries to oppose the new migration and asylum regime. Warsaw argued that the financial contribution appears to be a form of punishment in the event of refusal to welcome migrants.

From the start, the referendum was criticized by the opposition, particularly for the wording of the questions, which suggested correct answers to the government.

The ruling camp accuses the Civic Platform of wanting to privatize public companies, increase the age requirement, accept thousands of illegal migrants and liquidate the barrier on the Belarusian border.

“These are not innocent people who respect issues important to Poles. They can open the borders (to migrants), dismantle the border wall, sell state-owned assets,” Legutko told EURACTIV.pl.

(Aleksandra Krzysztoszek | EURACTIV.pl)

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