11th Dec 2023

Kaczynski decries 'German' takeover of Polish parliament

  • The unprecedented call from Jarosław Kaczynski for all-out opposition to the EU came on the eve of the first meeting on Monday of the newly-elected Polish parliament (Photo:
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Poland's Law and Justice (PiS) party is putting EU plans to change its treaties at the centre of its opposition to the country's pro-democratic coalition, the PIS leader Jarosław Kaczyński said in a series of public meetings at the weekend, as Poland celebrated its national independence day.

Kaczyński repeatedly referred to the Civic Platform, which leads the pro-democratic coalition set to head the next Polish government, as a "German party".

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He said in Kraków on Saturday (11 November) that EU treaty reform plans were no more than a German and French plan to reduce Poland to the status of a "land", depriving the country of its sovereignty.

Speaking ahead of the newly-elected Polish parliament's first meeting on Monday (13 November), Kaczyński said his country's independence was in danger. He told his supporters that "when you have to fight for your country's independence, it is worth paying any price". "It is a beautiful thing to suffer or even die for your country," he told party faithful in Kraków.

Almost a month after the election, the plan to challenge the EU reforms domestically looks set to form the basis of future policy for the PiS — which came top with 35 percent in the 15 October parliamentary poll.

The unprecedented call from Kaczyński for all-out opposition to the EU came as the new parliament in Warsaw was set to choose its key officials — but will have to wait a month or more before swearing in a new government.

The delay comes after Andrzej Duda, the Polish president, mandated the head of the PiS government, Mateusz Morawiecki, to form the next administration — even though his party controls only 194 seats in the 460-seat chamber, and lacks the majority needed to rule.

The pro-democratic majority under Civic Platform, which won 248 seats at the October election, is currently waiting in the wings for the expected collapse of Morawiecki's effort to secure a coalition.

Donald Tusk, the head of the opposition coalition and former head of the European Council, will then present his cabinet to parliament in what should be a near-certain vote of support for the new government.

Tusk's 24-point programme

The pro-democratic coalition is made up of the centre-right Civic Coalition (which controls 157 seats), the centrist Third Way (with 65 seats) and the New Left (with 26 seats) unveiled a 24-point programme for a coalition government last Friday.

The programme promises to maintain a strong defence stance in the face of possible Russian threats, a return to the rule of law and an increased spending on school education. Women's and LGBT rights are to be defended, green energy is to be promoted and Poland will go ahead with the construction of new nuclear power plants.

Executives at state-owned companies, who were forced to provide financial support for the outgoing ruling party and jobs for party loyalists, will be appointed based on their qualifications, university autonomy will be respected while public service media, which has been used to back the ruling party, will be depoliticised.

Security services will be reformed so that they will no longer act as an arm of the ruling political party, while the new coalition will prosecute those members of the government administration who failed to respect the country's constitution, used their positions to further the ruling party's political aims, and squandered public funds.

The coalition programme fails to mention policy on supporting Ukraine in its war with Russia, nor does it mention European policies, limiting itself to a pledge to seek to draw down funds from the Next GenerationEU post-Covid recovery programme. These run to €60bn in grants and low-cost loans which have been blocked by Brussels because Poland has been failing to implement rule-of-law reforms.

The programme avoids detailed promises and masks the inevitable tensions within the coalition — which remained united while it sought to defeat the ruling PiS, but will now be tested in government.

At the same time, Poland faces local government elections in the spring and the European Parliament election in the summer.

Author bio

Krzysztof Bobinski is a board member of the Society of Journalists, in Warsaw, an independent NGO. He was the Financial Times correspondent in Warsaw from 1976 to 2000. He worked at the Polish Institute of Foreign Affairs (PISM) and was co-chair of the Eastern Partnership Civil Society Forum.

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