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The Warsaw Voice » Politics » February 27, 2015
Politics & Society
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In Brief
February 27, 2015   
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Row Over Convention
Polish lawmakers Feb. 6 approved a European convention against domestic violence, despite fierce protests by the conservative opposition, which claims the document undermines traditional family values.

In total 254 deputies voted for the Council of Europe’s convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, 175 voted against and eight abstained. Those voting for included most deputies from the governing Civic Platform (PO) party and the junior coalition partner, the Polish People’s Party (PSL). All deputies from the opposition Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) and the liberal Your Movement (TR) group were also in favor. Right-wing deputies, including those from the largest opposition party Law and Justice (PiS), voted against.

Prior to the vote, PO deputy Robert Kropiwnicki described the convention as a “purely legislative,” nonideological effort “designed to support the prevention of domestic violence.” But PiS parliamentarian Marzena Wróbel implored the lower house to vote against the convention in order to prevent the “destruction of the Polish nation.”

Opponents argued the convention promoted homosexuality and “gender ideology.” The latter is a term used pejoratively by Polish conservatives to refer to values commonly espoused by feminists and the LGBT movement.

Opposition deputies repeatedly motioned for expert studies to determine whether the convention was compatible with the Polish constitution and whether its Polish translation was accurate.

Meanwhile, those in favor of the convention said this was the first such document in Europe to introduce provisions designed to protect women against all forms of violence and discrimination.

The convention is founded on the premise that violence against women is inseparably linked to inequality of the sexes, and in order to combat violence of this kind, societies first need to target discrimination and stereotypes.

After the vote, Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz described Feb. 6 as a great day for all victims of violence, regardless of whether they are women, men or children. “As representatives of the people, we need to combat all things that are not acceptable. Freedom must not be constrained,” Kopacz said.

The Polish government signed the convention in December 2012, but it still needed to be approved by parliament.

With the go-ahead from deputies, President Bronisław Komorowski is expected to sign the ratification document into law within several weeks.

PO Ahead of PiS: Poll
For the first time in months, the governing Civic Platform (PO) has outperformed the opposition Law and Justice (PiS) party in an opinion poll. In early February, 34 percent of respondents in a survey by TNS Polska said they would vote for the PO in this autumn’s parliamentary elections, while PiS came in second with 32 percent. The Polish People’s Party (PSL), the PO’s junior partner in the government coalition, was backed by 9 percent of respondents, while the opposition Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) was fourth with 7 percent. All other groups were below the 5 percent level of support needed to make it into parliament.

Such a level of support would mean 200 parliamentary seats for the PO, 191 for PiS, 42 for the PSL, and 27 for the SLD. The PO-PSL coalition would retain power with a combined 242 seats. The majority required to form a government is 231 seats.
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