The much-awaited and sole election debate in Poland turned into a ridiculous situation on Monday due to the format of the program on state television, which made it impossible for any meaningful discussion to take place.
Opposition leader Donald Tusk, along with Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and other candidates, hurried to respond to a series of questions posed by their hosts within one minute.
Promoted as a crucial event leading up to the general election on Sunday, the TVP main channel debate lost its appeal when Jarosław Kaczyński, the de facto leader of Poland, withdrew last week.
The audience who watched the program experienced a structure that was similarly uninteresting to a cheap daytime game show, with questions heavily favoring the ruling party. One could argue that the Q&A segment only highlighted the decreasing level of press freedom in a country that rejected communism and adopted democracy three decades ago.
Szymon Hołownia, leader of the opposition party Third Way, stated on his way to the studio that it will not be a debate, but rather a strange type of questioning. He emphasized the importance of participating in it.
Out of time
The two hosts of the event received most of the attention, as their questions often exceeded the allotted one minute for responses. Each question compared the supposed accomplishments of the current PiS government to the supposed shortcomings of Tusk’s previous leadership.
Morawiecki took advantage of the opportunity and launched continuous criticisms towards Tusk, warning of a disastrous outcome if the opposition were to be successful. Morawiecki claimed that a win for Tusk’s liberal Civic Coalition would result in the sale of important national assets such as forests, the Baltic Sea, and the Tatra Mountains.
Tusk, leader of the Civic Coalition who is currently behind PiS in the polls, tried to highlight the controversies of the current government. However, he failed to capitalize on multiple opportunities to make a strong impact. In fact, he even stumbled in his response to a question about migration, taking 50 seconds to introduce himself before ultimately stopping, mistakenly thinking he had run out of time.
In an attempt to make amends, Tusk extended an invitation to Morawiecki – and the absent Kaczyński – for a second debate on Friday.
“He remarked on the nature of the debate, where questions seemed to overshadow the answers.”
“We have the opportunity to hold a discussion involving various media outlets. It may not be led by PiS representatives, but I am willing to consider any suggestion and will be available on Friday.”
POLAND NATIONAL PARLIAMENT ELECTION POLL OF POLLS
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