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Is Poland the next Turkey?

The outlook for the Polish zloty suggests that Poland’s developing authoritarianism is likely to accelerate.

For anyone taking an interest in global affairs over the past few years, it is evident that people around the world are becoming increasingly angry. This is especially true in the periphery of Europe, where countries like Turkey and Hungary are ruled by governments with an intolerance for people who disagree with them. Stock markets serve as measures of social mood – what we call sociometers. After long negative trends in social mood in Italy and Poland, manifested in those countries’ declining stock markets, the so-called “populist revolution” has also resulted in the election of governments there that have radical agendas. Angry, disgruntled people tend to elect similar governments. In Poland’s case, one policy of the ruling Law and Justice Party is to overhaul the judicial system by forcing judges to retire early. This, the European Union argues, is aimed at increasing political influence in the Polish legal system. Turkey took similar actions in 2017, and it has been a classic tactic of authoritarian regimes throughout history.

Indeed, Poland’s Law and Justice Party is adhering to authoritarian policies in a number of ways. It has introduced legislation which considers “slandering Poland” a serious criminal offense; it’s also a crime to imply that Poles had any responsibility for Nazi crimes in Poland during World War II. Add in to the mix a persistent focus on nationalism, attacks on the free press (hang on, are we talking about the US?), and changing election regulations, and it all adds up to a story of regression rather than progression. On 13 August, the EU stepped up threats of legal action against the Polish government, which remains intransigent on the judicial matter. It’s looking very probable that Poland will follow Turkey on the road to international isolation.

Indeed, the chart of the Polish zloty versus the Euro suggests that Poland may be in for the same treatment as Turkey. The Turkish lira has depreciated dramatically as the country has become more authoritarian and relations with the West have deteriorated. However, the lira was already showing signs of depreciating well before these issues came to a head. Since Recep Tayyip Erdoğan became president of Turkey in 2014, the Turkish lira had already lost half its value versus the US dollar before things really started accelerating this summer.

This is what markets do. They are lead indicators of events. Most people are conditioned to think that it is news that drives markets, but we think otherwise. Quite often, when the news seems most extreme, markets move in the opposite direction than most people expect. Take the stock market as an example. The US stock market topped out in October 2007 when all the economic news was good. There was blue sky all around. The downtrend started, indicating that all was not well, but the collapse did not come until a year later in October 2008. People had plenty of warning – Lehman Brothers’ demise did not come out of the blue. In March 2009, when the economic news was horrendous and hardly anybody was bullish, the stock market bottomed.

It’s the same for currencies. If there is a developing geo-political issue, it will be reflected in the price of the currency first. The price action of the Polish zloty is giving us a flashing warning sign that news flow may be about to turn very negative for Poland. A multi-year consolidation ended at the beginning of this year, and it now looks like EUR-PLN is entering a strong advance which should see the pair explode higher. We should not be surprised when that trend is accompanied with a serious breakdown in international relations with Warsaw.

The views expressed in this opinion editorial are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Emerging Europe’s editorial policy.

About the author

Murray Gunn

Murray Gunn

Murray Gunn is head of global research at Elliott Wave International (www.elliottwave.com).

16 Comments

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  • Look, when I don’t know anything about a country, I stay quiet and listen!
    Let’s look at what happened to East Germany’s judges with a totalitarian past. Upon reunification they all got sacked! Somehow the West Germans said that supporting Soviet military occupation and a repressive legal system designed specifically to crush freedom was incompatible with being a judge.
    But that didn’t stop Germany meeting the expense and entertainment accounts of Poland’s totalitarian judges who, when the Russians left, got a pay rise in the new Poland run by proven Communist agent Lech Walesa (yes, extensive damning evidence written in his own hand).
    Let’s look a bit close at Poland’s leading judicial family – the “Gersdorfs”.
    Malgorzata Gersdorf is the forcibly-retired head of the Supreme Court. A Communist Party member since her youth. Her husband, Bohdan Zdziennicki, a fellow Communist from years back and former head of the Constitutional Tribunal. Their son is head of the Law Faculty at Warsaw University, a position he inherited from his father and one that is crucial in appointing new judges, together with mom and pops. Mom even heard a case where he was defense counsel!!
    Judges were hand-picked for big cases – on the basis of them actually having a conflict of interest!!
    Does this matter?
    Yes. Poland’s crooked judges protected Walesa in several libel cases he won against people who rightly accused him of supporting post-Communism because he was a paid agent in the 1980s.
    Recently, Poland’s judges oversaw Europe’s biggest real estate scandal – with billions of dollars of property going to post-Communist crooks. Ever heard of Jola Brzeska? The tenants’ rights campaigner slaughtered for standing up to the “Liberals” and their property Mafia. Burnt alive, hands tied behind her back and the police called it suicide. 50,000 low end tenants evicted in Warsaw alone … thanks to the Liberals!
    And then the Liberals were up to their neck in Russian mafia operations worth billions.

    • Thanks, this really sheds light on the subject in particular and about the polish legal system in general.

      The comment by David Stephenson is also very illuminating.

    • I’d reword your excellent opening to “When you don’t know anything about a country, shut-up and learn.” Though there are 100 more arguments showing why the Polish and Hungarian judicial reforms ought to be followed by the entire West, even in countries without an ex-commie overlayer, just the one point you made skewers Mr.Gunn’s thesis through the heart. I don’t how who runs “Emerging Europe”; maybe it’s the same toxic NWO crowd that courses through the corridors at EU. People who get their “knowledge” of Poland from the European Commission, Economist, Financial Tines and Newsweek, plus maybe some machine-translated articles from Wyborcza, really ought to stop posing as writers of anything but fake-analysis agitprop.

    • @David Stephenson The Dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of Warsaw (Tomasz Giaro) was born in 1951. The people who you say are the parents of the “head of the Law Faculty of the University of Warsaw” were born in 1952 (Małgorzata Gersdorf) and 1944 (Bohdan Zdziennicki) respectively. Could you explain to me how that works? What do you mean by ‘head’ of the faculty exactly?

    • But that is entirely lie! Professor Gersdorf was one of the opposition activiests in foirst Solidarity in 80s. In contract to prosecutor Piotrowicz who at the time was actively pursuing and making charges against Solidarity members. Today he acts as MP and tries to defame professor Gersdorf who was the real hero while Piotrowicz was given high medal by general Jaruzelski at the time of marshall law in Poland for his acting against democratic opposition

  • One correction needs to be made about the Polish Anti-Defamation Law.
    Poland acknowledges that some Poles were involved in crimes against Jews. The ADL says it is a crime to say the Polish nation bears co-responsibility for the Holocaust. For more background info, read Jaff Schatz ( abbreviated notes available on mailstar). 50,000 Poles were recorded as executed by the Germans for helping Jews. The Allies thwarted a camp uprising at Auschwitz by Witold Pilecki – who escaped and went on to fight a whole lot more. Look him up … and his postwar secret police torturer Jozef Goldberg.

  • What kind of journalism is this? You are a researcher?! Since you know nothing about Poland (it’s obvious you don’t) and you did not bother to do the research, you should have kept quiet. Shame on you!

  • It’s probably some Russian fairy tales or something ???

    The one who wrote it should check at least the basic data such as the level of inflation ,
    in Poland, inflation is below 2% … In Turkey about 20% !!!

    “t Poland’s developing authoritarianism is likely to accelerate.”

    Poland is a 100% democratic country with a democratically elected government and freedom in the media larger than in the old EU countries because the media in Poland belongs to many different Polish and western corporations and each of them presents their own point of view !

    So how can authoritarianism develop without media Sherlock ????

    A bucket of Russian rubbish instead of information is presented in this article !

  • This is a facile and political attempt to slander Poland in my view, unsupported by any economic basis whatsoever, but rather by accusations and innuendo. The chart provided of the EUR/PLN shows the Zloty as a fairly stable currency, and then Mr. Gunn predicts a comical spike upward – based on what in ecomomic terms? Poland’s economy is strong. I wonder if Mr. Gunn has any conception of what is driving the Turkish Lira to devalue so steeply – massive borrowing in U.S. dollars when they were cheap. Now they are expensive and – combined with Erdogan’s repression and idiotic economic policy – the Turkish banks are unable to service their dollar-denominated debt. There is a lot going on in Turkey, a 2016 coup that may or may not be real but that has served as a pretext for arresting tens of thousands of Turks and displacing millions more from their civil service jobs. Mr. Gunn compares the Polish government’s policies to Erdogan’s – again simplistically and in a facile, 100,000 foot level, and ipso facto, Poland is the next Turkey! Poppeycock. Provide some economic rationale Mr. Gunn, or just admit you are a technical chartist without a smidgeon of economic rigor to back up your argument.
    Look at a 5-year chart of the zloty versus the dollar and compare it to virtually any other right now – every currency, including the Euro is declining versus the dollar because of rising U.S. interest rates and quantitative tightening by the Fed.

  • Dear Mr. Gunn,
    That`s a pity you have made a fool of yourself if you believed all these fake news about Poland repeated by leftist / liberal controlled mainstream media, who cannot stand some countries are not following their “perfect model” of social development = Kalergi plan for Europe.
    Since the elections in 2015 which turned out to be a shock for EU aparatchiks we hear these absurd accusations all the time.
    The ruling party Law and Justice is just too slow and delicate in dealing with the garbage left by previously ruling Civic Platform party, controlled by foreign intelligence, from Berlin and Brussels.
    When the so called “Polish” government is destroying Poland from the inside, every Western media seems to be happy.
    Any attempt to improve the efficiency Polish state and its economy seems to be a threat to the interests of close neighbours.
    This situation is a copy of XVIII century struggles between the reform parties and agents of foreign influence, claiming that for Poland`s good the country should be under external administration.
    In Poland so called “total opposition” is nowadays a synonym of Targowica Confederation (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Targowica_Confederation) which helped bring the country to partitions by Russia, Austria and Prussia.
    History repeats itself, sometimes …

  • So far the economy of Poland is developing twice as fast than the average for the “old” EU. All in all what the Polish government needs to do is to do what President Trump did: lower the taxes and abolish extensive regulations on the economy. Less socialism and more capitalism is the right way to prosper.

  • Opinion journalism disgusts me, clearly Mr Gunn did not read enough about the country as well as the subject. It can be seen once you read this part of this text “…that Poles had any responsibility for Nazi crimes in Poland during”. Due to wrong translations the law has been changed, a couple of months ago actually, and now it is no longer a crime but a public offense to declare that Polish nation, I say again NATION, was responsible for the holocaust in any way. Individuals can and will be always responsible for the horrible things that happened in the 2nd World War in Poland, that is a fact. Perhaps Mr Gunn got confused and mixed up the flags in which was standing in Polish soil during the Nazis occpupation, perhaps he has never been to Auschwitz or Schindler’s factory or perhaps he wrote it during the night and did not mean what he wrote.

  • Dear Murray Gunn. You don’t understand. First to understand polish mentality and polish history. From lesson history we know that Poland was sacrifice at altar freedom and good life after war in west country. This is not true that Poland not like freedom. Polish people love freedom. Polish people begining be upset when someone try tell them how they should building country. 1989 in Poland start transformation system. People which rules in soviet union time, they rules now. This goverment want kick out from courts all old generation which rules in previous system and give chance young people not contaminated previous system. This goverment is good for Poland – you know why ? because previous goverment always raise taxes because always missing money. This goverment fix taxes and now is a lot of money from taxes, thank this money goverment invest in this country. Europe begining affraid Poland because Poland grow up in force, no one in europe want that Poland be strong, but this goverment don’t listen no one only made what should made. We trust too much Russia, Poland for many years fight with this country about independent and freedom, know how Russian thinking and what they are capable of. Look at nord stream pipe, look at gas port in Poland and building baltic pipe connection norway denmark and Poland. Poland want be independent from Russia. Poland never be totalitary country because too many years and centrury Poland was occupated by totalitary country. 1785-1918 by Russia, Austria, Germany. How many times Poland stay to fight with this 3 country trough this 123 years, and later in 1945-1989 how many times Poland fight with Russia – you read about it and now you wrote here that Poland begining totalitary country ? Look what kind of country go help Hungary in 1956 in Budapest when Hungary fight about freedom ? Poland never be proud from our self country because occupation country always try tell Poland and polish people that they are stupid and not enought inteligent to build and rules country, but now all is change. Poland is stronger and much more independent than before. Poland achieve incredible succes in short time. Now Poland and citizens are very proud of Poland. You don’t forget that If not polish squadron aircraft in UK 302,303 in II war world, probably UK be german.