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(en) Poland, (alter-ee) "Boycott Elections"... We will not be Quiet

Date Mon, 26 Sep 2005 09:43:48 +0300

The Anarchist Federation has been conducting a national "Boycott Elections"
campaign. The object of the campaign is not only to convince people not to
vote (which is actually quite easy), but also to present our alternatives to
the current politic system.
The Boycott Elections web page (www.bojkot-wyborow.org)
includes many articles on the subject. Groups from FA all over Poland have
been making actions for weeks, including billboard detournment, bulletins,
leaflets and newspapers, posters, street meetings, media campaigns, etc...
As you can imagine, some people decided to agitate today, on election day.
According to tradition, there is supposed to be something called "quiet" for
24 hours before and during the election. In reality, since presidential
election is two weeks away, the electoral commission decided that people can
campaign for presidential candidates (just not at voting places) and that
trying to encourage people to vote is no problem. Since the text of the law
on elections say that one is not allowed to campaign for any parties or at
polling stations, and since we wanted to encourage a boycott, we determined
that this law does not apply to going around the city and making fun of all
the candidates.

Of course the fact that the law bans demos, rallies, etc. "for any parties",
does not mean that the police and even the public take that to mean that you
cannot say anything in the time. The action "We will not be Quiet" was
organized by FA Praga and moved from place to place throughout the city.
Activists made some speeches and provocations and even people on the street
were free to join in. It was a quite surprising action for many who were
shocked that anybody would say anything on election day. Besides trying to
present an anarchist point of view on elections, some funny jokes were made.
Outside the zoo, the elephant Buba was proposed as a presidential write-in
candidate and on the old town, some street performer painted and standing
like a statue was also presented as an ideal candidate because he stands and
does nothing but take money.

At some point we stumbled upon a voting station where some big shot must
have been voting (maybe even the President himself) as there was TV etc.
there and the police arrested three people. The anarchists, who had taken
copies of the law with them argued that their demo could not be counted as
breaking "the quiet". This was a challenge to the generally spread word that
one cannot speak at all during election day, which is what they tell you in
the media. The police admitted they were not sure and called the electoral
commission who, when told what the anarchists had exactly said, decided that
it did not break the law. In the end, after some hours debating with the
police on various life topics, everybody was released and not even charged
with any of the cops' favourite bullshit charges like blocking traffic or
making noise.


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