Poland’s PM puts Middle East migrants on the ballot

In a politically polarized society, election success depends less on targeting centrist voters than on making sure those most sympathetic to your side show up to vote. To meet that goal, politicians sometimes include hot-button referendum questions on the same ballot that voters will use to choose their next set of leaders.


Case in point: Aware that his Law and Justice Party faces a stiff challenge this fall from the opposition Civic Platform, Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki announced plans on Sunday to add the following question to the national election ballot for October 15:

“Do you support the admission of thousands of illegal immigrants from the Middle East and Africa under the forced relocation mechanism imposed by the European bureaucracy?”

If the wording of that question doesn’t make clear which side the prime minister is on, he accompanied the announcement on social media with a video image of a Black man licking a knife, followed by the question, “Do you want to cease being masters of your own country?”

During the height of Europe’s refugee crisis in 2015-2016, the governing Law and Justice Party managed to close Poland’s borders to migration from Africa and the Middle East, though it has welcomed more than three million Ukrainians who have fled Russia’s invasion of their country. More than a million Ukrainians are still there.

Former prime minister Donald Tusk, now leader of the more immigration-friendly opposition, says the referendum idea shows the governing party is running scared and needs an election gimmick to win.

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