It is at least not obvious for an activist of the civic movement, whose role is to ensure the standards of democratic order, to run in elections. One may be either a referee or a participant in the game. Civic activists must not seek political careers – they are there to uphold the rules – impartially. They are to represent the ruled, they must not become the rulers.
I’m not abandoning this role. On the contrary, I try to implement it by running. The thing is that the rules in question do not exist and need to be built from scratch today. This is the main task of the new parliament, especially the Senate, whose role is to stand above partisan competition, not to participate in it. The Senate should always be “cross-party”; it cannot be – and has been for a long time – the prey of parties winning a majority. This principle becomes particularly important today, when the systemic rules of the state will have to be built anew in the new reality.
One of the core functions of the democratic system is to limit the arbitrary power of the “political class”. It wouldn’t be wise to let the politicians set the very boundaries they are so eager to cross. It would be like letting prisoners write rules for their guards. Democratic standards are completely ruined because of political war. One of the sides did it, but both share the responsibility. More importantly the standards do not exist on both sides of the conflict. The elections to the Senate – those in 2019 and the upcoming ones – show this well.
It is clear that the democratic opposition should put forward one candidacy in each constituency against the representatives of the ruling majority in these elections. This obvious and necessary decision cannot, however, eliminate the choice. We cannot agree that behind-the-scenes agreements of few party leaders determine who we must support without reservations, without listening to the candidates, without debate and without any alternative. The whole choice left for us is to support whoever the leaders appoint – or to let the alt-right populists win. I am running, among other things, to ensure this choice, to force a debate.
I am running – to be precise – for the common candidate of democratic opposition. If I lose the debates, if any of the many possible methods show that someone else is preferred by the voters in my constituency, I will resign. But I strongly demand anything resembling primaries. In the conditions of a bipolar plebiscite, such a solution is the only guarantee of democratic order and is always applied in democracy.
If I am refused to debate – as happened in 2019 – I will not resign. It will be yet another expression of the arrogance of politicians aspiring to represent us and rule the country and it will confirm even more urgent need to restore the rules of minimum decency between us. In the 44th constituency for part of Warsaw and abroad – which is already confirmed by very rich data – PiS cannot count on more than 30% of support. So even splitting our votes between two people cannot bring PiS victory. Fair and free choice on our part is in this situation our free choice. It’s an important choice. As important as political victory. Because what we are fighting for in these elections is democracy, not simply power.