Across Central Europe, independent media are the caught in the middle of attacks by populist politicians. These have built a narrative of local people standing up to elites, of Central European nations opposing “orders from Brussels”, and of traditional values resisting social liberalism. In the world of media, this translates into populist governments accusing independent media of being “foreign agents” working for Western European states, against the interests of their own country.

On the other side of the spectrum, diverse political coalitions publicly support the need for independent media to thrive, as part of a wider demand for respect towards rule of law and human rights principles.

MFRR in Focus puts this and other issues into context. After recent elections in Slovakia, today we turn to Poland. While in Slovakia, a right-wing coalition led by ex-Prime Minister Robert Fico won the majority previously detained by a liberal-leaning group of parties, the results of Sunday’s election in Poland seem to show that the country has chosen to go in the opposite direction.

On October 15, Polish voters elected a new Sejm and Senate, respectively the lower and upper houses of parliament. In both chambers, a broad opposition coalition led by ex-Prime Minister Donald Tusk has obtained a majority of seats. The Law and Justice (PiS) party will, however, remain Poland’s most popular political group, retaining 35.4 % of the vote, according to official results published on Tuesday.

To discuss the potential outcomes for media freedom in Poland following a likely upcoming change in government, IPI spoke to Aleksandra Sobczak, Deputy Editor-in-Chief of Gazeta Wyborcza, Poland’s leading daily newspaper, which has itself supported the opposition’s bid for power as part of a demand to restore full-fledged respect of media freedom in the country.

Guests: Aleksandra Sobczak, Deputy Editor-in-Chief of Gazeta Wyborcza.

Producer and Host: Karol Łuczka, Eastern Europe Advocacy and Monitoring Officer at IPI.

Editor: Javier Luque, Head of digital communications at IPI.

Poland: Media freedom reform faces obstacles after opposition victory

Other episodes in this series:

Engrained challenges for press freedom in Bulgaria
MFRR in Focus: Ariane Lavrilleux and the case of source protection in France
MFRR In Focus: How will the takeover of Polska Press in Poland impact the upcoming election?

Related links:

Report: Media freedom at a crossroads – Journalism in Poland faces uncertain future ahead of election
Poland: Media capture fears confirmed in new report examining PKN Orlen takeover of Polska Press

This podcast series is part of the MFRR in Focus project sponsored by Media Freedom Rapid Response, which tracks, monitors and responds to violations of press and media freedom in EU Member States and Candidate Countries. The MFRR is organised by a consortium led by the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF) including ARTICLE 19 Europe, the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), Free Press Unlimited (FPU), International Press Institute (IPI) and CCI/Osservatorio Balcani e Caucaso Transeuropa (OBCT).

For more in-depth podcast episodes about the state of press freedom in Europe, visit the MFRR website or search MFRR In Focus on your podcasts apps. The MFRR is co-funded by the European Commission.