The Conservatives’ future allies in Europe? The potential reputational damage posed by Law and Justice – David Cameron’s new best friends from Poland
May 30, 2009
The Conservatives’ future allies in Europe?
The potential reputational damage posed by Law and Justice – David Cameron’s new best friends from Poland
David Cameron is committed to forming a new ‘centre-right, non-federalist’ political group in the European Parliament after the forthcoming European elections (on 4-7 June). To do so, he plans to leave the mainstream EPP-ED Group, to which the Conservatives have belonged since 1992. The EPP-ED Group includes over 60 political parties, including Angela Merkel’s CDU-CSU, Nicolas Sarkozy’s UMP, Silvio Berlusconi’s ‘People of Liberty’, and Fredrik Reinfeldt’s Swedish conservatives, as well as Donald Tusk’s Polish Civic Platform.
To create a new group, the Conservatives will need to put together 25 MEPs from seven nationalities, as required by the Parliament’s rules. David Cameron has said that the new group should be ‘decentralist, free-market and Atlanticist’. So far, only two other national political parties have publicly stated that they are willing to join: the Law and Justice party (PiS) of the Kaczynski twins in Poland and Mirek Topolanek’s Civic Platform (ODS) in the Czech Republic. Mr Cameron refuses to reveal the identities of the four other parties required, saying only that negotiations are continuing and that an announcement will be made after the elections. ‘We will not join up with parties that are extremist in any way’, he recently reassured British voters. However, it looks as if he is about to do precisely that.
This briefing focuses on the largest and most important of the two declared allies, the Law and Justice (PiS) party in Poland. The key problem David Cameron faces is that the party of Lech and Jaroslaw Kaczynski is a deeply unattractive ally – and a quite unnatural bed-fellow – for the ‘progressive Conservatism’ that the Tory leader seeks to present. Law and Justice, from the top down, has shown itself a hard-line, socially conservative force, opposed to gay and minority rights – and its economic policies are as illiberal as its social ones. Overall, its views on a wide range of issues sit uneasily with Mr Cameron’s modern style of Conservatism.
To make matters even worse, Law and Justice has recently co-opted a range of even more extreme figures, from fringe right-wing parties, into Law and Justice. Three of these latter individuals come from the notorious League of Polish Families and they have been given top slots on Law and Justice’s regional lists for the June 2009 European elections. So they are certain to be elected. A fourth, again top of a regional list, comes from the hardline party known as Self-Defence. Two further candidates, both from Law and Justice itself, again top of regional lists, voice similar views.
If Mr Cameron succeeds in forming a new political group, these six MEPs will sit with the Conservatives in the European Parliament. Ironically, the Conservative MEPs themselves voted to condemn ‘the League of Polish Families, whose leaders incite people to hatred and violence’ in the European Parliament in June 2006: now they would be in the same group as three of them.
This briefing details these six candidates – whose political views are, to put it mildly, very different to the ‘kindlier, gentler’ Conservatism to which David Cameron normally likes to give voice.
Poles Apart – The Politics of Law and Justice
The Kaczynski Twins
Lech Kaczynski has been President of Poland since November 2005. He co-founded Law and Justice (PiS) with his identical twin brother Jaroslaw in 2001. From 2002 to 2005, Lech was mayor of Warsaw. He is likely to run for re-election next year against the current prime minister, Donald Tusk (whom he narrowly defeated for the presidency in 2005 and who leads the more moderate centre-right party, Civic Platform). Although both Law and Justice (PiS) and Civic Platform (PO) are right of centre parties deriving from Lech Walesa’s Solidarity dissident movement, there are sharp differences.
Jaroslaw Kaczynski, leader of Law and Justice, won the general election of September 2005 but forewent becoming prime minister until July 2006. He then governed until he lost the early general election in October 2007.
In Government and Opposition
As Law and Justice lacked a single-party majority in parliament during its time in power from 2005 to 2007, prime minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski relied on the support of two minor parties, with even more right-wing views – the League of Polish Families (LPR), led by Roman Giertych, and Self-Defence (Samoobrona), led by Andrzej Lepper. In May 2006, these two parties were formally admitted to government, as the price of continued support, provoking massive international criticism. However, the coalition proved fissile and eventually broke up in acrimony, provoking the general election won by Donald Tusk’s Civic Platform in October 2007. The Economist described Law and Justice in government as ‘vengeful, paranoid, addicted to crises, divided and mostly incompetent’ (17 February 2007).
Back in Opposition, Law and Justice has been moving even further to the right. It has also gone on a fishing expedition trying to break up the two smaller parties to its right, notably by inviting some of their leading members to defect. Now, in the June 2009 European elections, this process of co-opting the far right has gone one step further. Four former members of the League of Polish Families and of Self-Defence have been catapulted into the top slots on the regional lists of Law and Justice, thus in effect guaranteeing them election.
The European elections are a political battle-ground within Law and Justice. Two heads of list are relatively moderate pragmatists – Adam Bielan and Michal Kaminski – who currently sit within the European Parliament. However, six heads of list are now from the hard right. They are Urszula Krupa, Jacek Kurski and Miroslaw Piotrowski (previously from the League of Polish Families), Ryszard Czarnecki (previously from Self-Defence), and Ryszard Legutko and Zbigniew Ziobro (from Law and Justice itself). Two of these candidates – Krupa and Piotrowski – are widely thought to have been personally placed by the head of the fundamentalist Catholic media network Radio Maryja, Father Tadeusz Rydzyk, who exercises considerable influence on right-wing politics in Poland.
In promoting such individuals, some suggest that Jaroslaw Kaczynski is both co-opting hardliners and ‘exporting’ them to Brussels, so that they can be less disruptive at home. Whatever his motive, this is the survival strategy of the Law and Justice leadership in Opposition. The highly-regarded Polish weekly Polityka says that, ‘caring only about conservative right-wing voters’, Jaroslaw Kacynski ‘pushes his party further to the right of the domestic political scene’. Newsweek Polska notes that ‘Even though Kaczynski says in public that he does not believe in polls, he is afraid of a poor result that could undermine his position in the party. For a long time now, he has been quietly replacing people who hold key posts with faithful and proven comrades … ’.
Even before the current European elections, the philosophy and policies of Law and Justice have always sat very uncomfortably with that of the British Conservatives. Professor David Hanley, a British leading academic expert on centre-right politics in Europe, has described Law and Justice in these terms:
‘Attached to Catholic social teaching and in favour of a generous social régime before financial orthodoxy’, the ‘viscerally nationalistic and traditional’ Law and Justice Party has ‘attracted many of the old Communist votes. It also bans gay processions and wants Tesco to close on Sundays. Is this really the new, inclusive, laid-back Tories’ natural friend in the New Europe?’ (European Voice, 26 January 2006).
The whole flavour of Law and Justice was aptly caught by the former Observer journalist, Neal Ascherson of Open Democracy, who wrote in October 2007, when the party lost power: ‘The two years of government by Jaroslaw Kaczynski’s Law and Justice movement, supported by two of the nastiest and maddest coalition partners ever to share power in post-war Europe, are over. …
The PiS regime had become a continental embarrassment. Its domestic policies were bigoted and oppressive, from its anti-gay rhetoric to its ruthless, witch-hunting treatment of opponents as anti-Polish and potentially treacherous. Its style in foreign policy was often farcical in its crude nationalism, alienating both neighbouring states and the European Union.
When Jaroslaw Kaczynski demanded that Poland’s human losses under Nazi occupation should be added into the population count allotting voting strengths under the new European treaty, intelligent Poles hid their faces in their hands.
When his twin brother Lech, who remains the nation’s President, boycotted a vital meeting in Germany because a Berlin cartoonist had compared him to a potato, the same Poles didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.’ (The boycotted meeting, for reference, was a summit with the French President and German Chancellor).
Since then, little has changed. In January 2008, the newspaper Rzeczpospolita noted the ‘aggressive language used by PiS leaders … a language of mistrust and inuendo. It was as if everyone in Poland is a suspect and must be invigilated. In this situation, the young electorate simply chose the PO (Civic Platform) slogan “for a better life”. ’
Awkward facts about Law and Justice
· In government, Law and Justice ostracised Leszek Balcerowicz, the free-market former Polish finance minister – celebrated by both the Ludwig Erhard Stiftung and the Heritage Foundation as the key architect of Poland’s economic renaissance – who was then serving as President of the Polish Central Bank. It subjected him to a parliamentary enquiry designed to discredit him.
· The Law and Justice government appointed as Minister for Privatisation someone, Wojciech Jasinski, who favoured re-nationalisation. It quickly became embroiled in a series of high-profile battles to prevent foreign take-overs in the banking and insurance sectors, against the views of the central bank. The party’s whole philosophy proved to be very much one of the new ‘economic nationalism’.
· One of the first acts of the Law and Justice government was to abolish the Office for the Equality of Men and Women, responsible for protecting minority rights, and to get rid of the post of women’s minister. Conversely, as the Financial Times noted on 8 November 2005, Law and Justice ‘moved quickly to take over the intelligence services, interior ministry and justice ministry.’
· In June 2006, the Law and Justice government appointed Piotr Farfal – the former editor of an anti-Semitic ‘skinhead fanzine’ called Front, and member of the League of Polish Families – as deputy head of its state television station, TVP. As Amnesty International has put it at the time, ‘it would be a novel definition of modernisation’ for the Conservatives under David Cameron to associate with allies of this kind.
· Jaroslaw Kaczynski told the Rzeczpospolita newspaper in December 2007: ‘I value highly traditional values; I treat the act of destroying them as an attack on society’.
· Law and Justice’s policy is to oppose any legal recognition of homosexual couples, to oppose Sunday opening of shops (as bad for family life), and to further tighten restrictions on abortion, which was in any case made a criminal offence in 1993. (95 per cent of the Polish population are Catholic). In October 2004, Law and Justice introduced a bill in the Polish parliament to restore the death penalty.
· In December 2006, as prime minister, Jaroslaw Kaczynski said that Poland was in the middle of a ‘moral revolution’, which ‘would not be possible without the Radio Maryja family’. Radio Maryja (‘Radio of Maria’) is a network of populist, fundamentalist Catholic radio and television stations, which the International Herald Tribune, in an editorial in June 2006, described as ‘openly nationalist, anti-Semitic and anti-foreigner’. The Polish Council for Media Ethics referred to the network’s ‘primitive anti-Semitism’. The Stephen Roth Institute (of the Wiener Library, Tel Aviv) notes that the ‘Catholic nationalist radio station Radio Maryja is still the most influential source of anti-Semitic propaganda in Poland’.
· The Stephen Roth Institute (of the Wiener Library, Tel Aviv) also noted that Law and Justice Senator Ryszard Bender claimed in a broadcast on Radio Maryja in 2000 ‘that Auschwitz was not a death camp. President Lech Kaczynski appointed him as honorary chair of the first session of the newly elected chamber on November 5, 2007, a move that provoked strong criticism, among others, from Marek Edelman, the sole surviving leader of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising’ (Poland 2007).
· As mayor of Warsaw (2002-05), the Polish President, Lech Kaczynski, banned gay pride marches in the city two years in a row (2004 and 2005), declaring them to be ‘sexually obscene’ and saying that he was opposed to ‘propagating gay orientation’ or promoting a homosexual lifestyle. In 2005, however, he authorised a counter-demonstration called the ‘parade of normality’.
· President Kaczynski said on an official visit to Ireland in 2008 that the promotion of homosexuality would lead to the eventual downfall of the human race. His brother, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, said in September 2005 that ‘the affirmation of homosexuality will lead to the downfall of civilisation. We cannot agree to it’.
· In March 2008, Jaroslaw Kaczynski said that a Polish opt-out from the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights (in the Lisbon Treaty) was necessary so that ‘homosexual marriages cannot be imposed on us’ and so that Germans could not re-acquire property in territory from which they had been expelled at the end of the second world war.
· In August 2007, the Law and Justice government introduced legislation to out-law gays from teaching in the schools: teachers who revealed themselves to be gay would be sacked. In addition, as junior education minister Miroslaw Orzechowski put it, the law would ‘punish whosoever promotes homosexuality or any other deviance of a sexual nature in educational establishments’.
· Comically, Law and Justice’s obsession with homosexuality does not seem to stop at human beings, with Michal Grzes, a councillor in Poznan, condemning an elephant for supposedly preferring male company and thus probably not procreating. Grzes said: ‘We did not pay 37 million zlotys (£7.6 million) for the largest elephant house in Europe to have a gay elephant live there’. The head of the Poznan zoo said 10-year-old Ninio might be too young to decide whether he prefers males or females as elephants only reach sexual maturity at 14.
· On 5 November 2008, the day after Barack Obama’s victory in the US presidential election, a Law and Justice MP, Artur Gorski, called the new President the ‘black messiah of the new left’ whose election marked the ‘end of the civilization of the white man’. He was forced to apologise.
· Artur Gorski had already been in the news before, spearheading a campaign to get an image of the Virgin Mary put on the Polish national flag. In December 2006, he was one of 46 MPs from Law and Justice, the League of Polish Families and other right-wing parties to support a motion to make Jesus Christ king of Poland. He had been, in his own words, ‘praying in the parliamentary chapel for [Jesus’] coronation’, the BBC reported at the time.
· The Polish News Bulletin commented in 2007: ‘Public debates in Poland are dominated by such terms as vetting, abortion, fighting “homosexual propaganda”, uniforms at schools and Jesus Christ becoming the king of Poland. Europe finds these subjects incomprehensible’.
Authoritarian and Corrupt?
· The justice minister during the Law and Justice period of government, Zbigniew Ziobro, was called the ‘Sheriff of Warsaw’ by the Polish newspaper Rzecepospolita, with legal professionals accusing him of ‘reverting to Stalinist methods’ and ‘violating civil liberties’.
· Many in Law and Justice strongly support ‘lustration’, a verification system designed ostensibly to root out potential office-holders who cooperated with the Communist secret police, but often used in practice to discredit opponents by innuendo and accusation. While current laws require the verification of those who serve in public office, Law and Justice wants to expand the process to include academics, lawyers, journalists and company managers. Unsuccessful attempts were made to implicate the anti-Communist, former foreign minister, Bronislaw Geremek, in this way, and to deny him the right to sit as an MEP.
· In a speech at the Gdansk shipyards in October 2007, the then prime minister, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, likened Lech Walesa, Bronislaw Geremek and other trade unionists who fought for freedom in the 1980s to the ‘Zomo’ or Communist riot police. In this he was sustaining a bizarre myth, propagated by the arch-Catholic radio station, Radio Maryja, that Lech Walesa was a Soviet agent. In May 2009, Jaroslaw Kaczynski revealed in an interview that he had not spoken to Walesa since 1991.
· The government allegedly used bureaucratic harassment to get a privately-owned television channel to sack its star presenter, Tomasz Lis, who was a trenchant critic of Law and Justice.
· As prime minister, Jaroslaw Kaczynski expelled foreigners who had contracted major infectious diseases from the country. Despite opposition from the health minister, this new law, which came into effect in February 2007, covered all foreigners – including EU citizens – diagnosed with infectious diseases such as tuberculosis, hepatitis and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).
The extreme politics of the League of Polish Families
The inclusion of the League of Polish Families (LPR) and Self-Defence (Samoobrona) parties in the Law and Justice government in May 2006 unleashed a firestorm of international criticism. The LPR’s political agenda is a mix of nationalism, Christian fundamentalism and economic interventionism.
· The League opposes the selling of land to foreign nationals, abolishing the draft, abortion, euthanasia and gay marriage. It supports capital punishment and the withdrawal of Polish troops from Iraq. It unconditionally opposed Polish membership of the EU, claiming that an organisation controlled by ‘social liberals’ could never be trusted or reformed.
· The International Herald Tribune, in an editorial on 12 June 2006, described the League as an ‘ultra right-wing’ party, whose leaders had recently ‘accused homosexuals of running paedophile, drug-trafficking and other criminal organisations’.
· In July 2007, the League’s leader Roman Giertych, said in an interview with the Polish daily Zycie Warsazawy equated German Chancellor Angela Merkel with Adolf Hitler but said she was more sophisticated in her attempts to gain German domination of Europe.
· The Israeli government formally protested at the appointment of the League’s leader, Roman Giertych, given his track-record of anti-Semitic remarks, as education minister in the Law and Justice-led government in 2006.
· The League has its own private militia – the All-Polish Youth (APY) – whose skinhead supporters attack gay marches, throwing stones and bottles and shouting slogans such as ‘gas them!’ at participants. Giertych revived the APY, an anti-Semitic militia between the wars, in 1989. In Krakow in 1999, they pledged to fight against ‘the German and American-Jewish occupation of Poland’ in an apparent reference to foreign investment in the country.
· Wojciech Wierzejski, previously the League’s candidate for mayor of Warsaw, said of a gay pride march in the city: ‘If the deviants start demonstrating, they will need to be bashed with a thick stick’. He specifically threatened German politicians who might seek to join the march.
· The League of Polish Families is said to be financed in part by Jan Kobylanski, a Uruguay-based millionaire, who was reportedly denied entry to the US because of alleged war-time collaboration with the Nazis.
· When the Italian Christian Democrat minister, Rocco Buttiglione, withdrew as the Italian nominee for European Commissioner in autumn 2004, after making remarks sceptical of homosexual rights during his hearing in the European Parliament, the 10 MEPs from the League of Polish Families called for the EP to be ‘dissolved’ on the grounds it was dominated by the ‘gay lobby’.
· In 2007, the government-appointed ombudsman for children’s rights, Ewa Sowinska, from the League of Polish Families, said that the BBC programme ‘Teletubbies’, broadcast on Polish television, had a distinctly ‘homosexual undertone’.
· In December 2006, an internet film (made by Fakt abd dziennik.pl) of a secret gathering of Nazi sympathisers in Silesia showed Wojciech Wierzejski (see above) and several other party members in attendance. When asked by the Polish News Bulletin in December 2006 why the League did not get rid of Nazi sympathisers from its ranks, one activist replied: ‘What can we do? The majority of our people come from this background. Everyone wrote something silly. Maybe I did too’.
Conservative MEPs voted to reject the ‘hatred and violence’ of the League – whilst David Cameron wishes them to sit with three of their most prominent members
· In a vote on 15 June 2006, the European Parliament itself criticised the ‘participation in the [Polish] government of the League of Polish Families, whose leaders incite people to hatred and violence’. Interestingly, the 302 votes cast in favour of this resolution contained all but two of the Conservative MEPs who took part in the division.
· Voting for the resolution were the following 16 Conservative MEPs: John Bowis, Philip Bradbourn, Philip Bushill-Matthews, Martin Callanan, Den Dover, James Elles, Jonathan Evans, Daniel Hannan, Caroline Jackson, Syed Kamall, James Nicholson, Neil Parish, John Purvis, Struan Stevenson, Charles Tannock and Geoffrey Van Orden.
· For reference, paragraph 4 of resolution in the European Parliament on ‘the increase of racist and homophobic violence in Europe’, passed on 15 June 2006, stated that the EP: “Is seriously concerned about the general rise in racist, xenophobic, anti-Semitic and homophobic intolerance in Poland, partly fuelled by religious platforms such as Radio Maryja, which has also been criticised by the Vatican for its anti-Semitic discourse; believes that the EU should take appropriate measures to express its concerns and notably to address the issue of the participation in the government of the League of Polish Families, whose leaders incite people to hatred and violence; reminds Poland of its commitments and obligations under the Treaties, in particular Article 6 of the EU Treaty, and the possible sanctions in the event of non-compliance; urges the Polish government in this context to reconsider the abolition of the Office of the Plenipotentiary for Equal Status; requests the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia to conduct an inquiry into the emerging climate of racist, xenophobic and homophobic intolerance in Poland and the Commission to verify if the actions and declarations of the Polish Minister of Education are in conformity with Article 6 of the EU Treaty.”
Cameron’s Polish Six-Pack:
‘PiS artists’ or serious allies ?
Listed below are details about six top candidates for Law and Justice in the 2009 European elections
On 7 June, Poland will elect 50 Members to the 2009-2014 European Parliament, voting by proportional representation in 13 regions. The Law and Justice (PiS) regional lists have recently been published.
Three former leading members of the League of Polish Families and one former leading member of Self-Defence have been put in number-one positions on the regional lists, guaranteeing their election. Two further candidates from Law and Justice itself, again in top slots, appear to hold strikingly similar views.
These six individuals have some very unusual political opinions, detailed below. Once elected, they would automatically sit in the same new political group as the British Conservatives – assuming that David Cameron succeeds in finding the additional nationalities he needs to form such a group. Their views seem a far cry from the modernising Conservatism which Mr Cameron claims to espouse.
The three top-slot candidates on the Law and Justice lists from the League of Polish Families are:
1) Urszula KRUPA
Number one on the Lodzkie (Lodz) regional list of Law and Justice. Aged 59. League of Polish Families MEP 2004-09. Previously MP.
· Krupa has attracted attention with a public assertion that the aim of the European Union is to reduce the number of Poles to 15 million (from a current population of 39 million).
· Krupa believes that the EU is engaged in systematic discrimination against Poland. The flavour is captured by her invention in an EP debate in February this year, when she said: ‘Now that Poland’s industry has been shut down as part of its efforts to meet European Union requirements, attempts are being made to not only force Poles to emigrate, but also to ensure that those who remain become paupers by imposing the highest energy prices of all of the member states. One rhetorical question remains: is the main aim of the European Union’s policy to bankrupt my countrymen and wipe Poland from the map of Europe?’
· In another memorable quotation, Krupa told the EP that ‘Poland and the Poles are being slandered … by a liberal-socialist internationale, which controls the world’s mass media … because the Poles believe in God and adhere to traditional values’.
· From 1995 to 2003, Krupa worked as an editor for Radio Maryja (‘Radio of Maria’), the network of fundamentalist, populist and authoritarian Catholic radio and television stations, which the International Herald Tribune, in its editorial on 12 June 2006 described as ‘openly nationalist, anti-Semitic and anti-foreigner’ (see below for the full editorial). Radio Maryja campaigned against Polish membership of the EU and preferred closer links to Russia to membership of NATO.
· Radio Maryja is so extreme that it was publicly admonished by the Vatican before Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to Poland in May 2006 (and by the Pope himself implicitly during the visit itself). The papal representative in Warsaw, Monsignor Jozef Kowalczyk, wrote to Polish Bishops expressing ‘grave concern’ over the output of the network and asking them ‘to overcome difficulties caused by some transmissions and the views presented by Radio Maryja’. The network’s main targets for abuse tend to be homosexuals, Jews and Germans.
· In March 2006, the radio accused Jews of ‘trying to force our government to pay extortion money disguised as “compensation payments” for property lost during and after World War Two’. The BBC reported that this ‘prompted condemnation from a Polish media watchdog and Holocaust survivors, who likened it to Nazi propaganda’. The Roman Catholic priest Tadeusz Rydzyk, who owns Radio Maryja, is reported to have said in July 2007 of the compensation campaign: ‘They will come to you and say, “Give me your coat! Take off your trousers! Give me your shoes”.’
· In June 2007, a report from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe said that Radio Maryja was one among several radio stations in central and eastern Europe repeating anti-Semitic opinions and that it had ‘distinguished itself by the violence of its statements’ (Combating Anti-Semitism in Europe). The Simon Wiesenthal Center in the US also initiated a petition condemning the network’s extreme pronouncements.
· However, Krupa is unapologetic about Radio Maryja’s role. In September 2007, she told the European Parliament that attacks on Radio Maryja were orchestrated by ‘certain German politicians and sections of the German media’, reflected ‘aggressive anti-Polish sentiment’ and were ‘an attempt to achieve objectives it proved impossible to attain through war’. Krupa believes that the EU practises ‘discrimination against Catholics’.
· Many of Krupa’s interventions in the EP since 2004 have been equally striking. She takes an extreme Catholic position, describing abortion as the promotion of ‘murder of the most defenceless’, opposing contraception, advocating fasting, and arguing that that ‘sooner or later a democracy devoid of values’, as she sees western culture, ‘will turn into an overt or covert totalitarian regime’.
· Krupa’s view of abortion can be succinctly stated: ‘How can one describe a system in which a group of people who have already been born claim a monopoly over the right to life, whilst denying that same right to those who are not yet born and to those whom they would subject to euthanasia on the grounds that they are useless?’
· During a debate in the EP on abortion, she called the termination of pregnancy ‘extermination in the mother’s womb’, spoke about ‘fifty million murders committed each year in the womb, which is a much greater genocide than the Holocaust’, and described pro-choice supporters are ‘psychopaths’.
· Krupa opposes much of policy for equal treatment between men and women: ‘Treating social life as a battle of the sexes, with the creation of a new enemy on the previous model of the class struggle, gives those who advocate it the right to unlimited interference in every sphere of human existence, including the functioning of the family’. She adds: ‘Paternity leave has already had the results that might have been expected, since Swedish fathers are not alone in preferring elk hunting or reading the newspaper to looking after children’.
· The Daily Telegraph reported in March 2005 that Krupa nominated British UKIP MEP Godfrey Bloom for an equal opportunities prize, awarded annually by the Parliament’s women’s committee, on which they both sit. She did this quite seriously, saying that ‘his views have some authority’. Bloom famously said in 2004 that ‘no self-respecting small businessman with a brain in the right place would ever employ a lady of child-bearing age’. He added that he wanted to deal with women’s issues in the EP because ‘I just don’t think they clean behind the fridge enough’.
· On climate change, Krupa is firmly in the ‘denier’ camp. Her view is that climate change policy ‘is dangerous and not justified’ and that the ‘entire system for the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions is based on unproven hypotheses’. She believes that the development of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology in particular has the potential to be ‘the cause of an environmental disaster’. Commenting on the energy and climate change package, Krupa told the European Parliament in December 2008 ‘This will lead to economic collapse and to a huge increase in costs and food prices because of the need to replace transport vehicles. The population will be impoverished as a result’.
· Krupa attributes third-world poverty to ‘pillaging natural resources and speculation by international companies that enrich themselves at the cost of the life and health of the local population’. Development aid ‘will not compensate for the losses inflicted by a robber economy’. Promotion of birth control in the third world favours ‘sexual exploitation and the spread of sexually-transmitted diseases. Sexual freedom as propagated robs women of their dignity by reducing them to sex objects and encourages violence’.
· Krupa’s views on the market economy are equally robust. She talks in quasi-Marxist terms of the ‘private sector, where the majority of managers look above all at the profits of their companies and have no respect for ethical and moral principles, at the same time preventing the action of trade unions which would protect workers’.
2) Jacek KURSKI
Number one on the Podlaskie and Warminsko-Mazurskie (Olsztyn and Bialystok) regional list for Law and Justice. Aged 43. Member of the League of Polish Families until 2004. Currently a Law and Justice MP.
· Jacek Kurski was a member of ROP (National Rebirth of Poland) in the 1990s, a body identified by the Stephen Roth Institute (at the Wiener Library, Tel Aviv) as an anti-Semitic political party.
· In his ROP days, Kurski warned foreign investors at a rally in Gdansk against participating in the ‘criminal privatisation’ process, noting ‘even if you buy something before the elections, in complete accordance with the law, we will take it back off you’. In December 1996, he accused a group of television journalists of collaboration and called for the vetting of all journalists so as to clean the system of communist sympathisers.
· Kurski’s nickname in Polish politics is the ‘Pit Bull’ in recognition of his aggressive tactics towards opponents. The free-market former Polish finance minister Leszek Balcerowicz warned in 1996 of the ‘injection of the venom of hatred into Polish political debate’ from Kurski, which risked taking Poland back to the final years of the communist régime.
· During the 2005 Polish presidential election, Kurski attacked Donald Tusk (leader of Civic Platform, now Polish prime minister) on the grounds that his grand-father volunteered to join the Wehrmacht. In fact Tusk’s grand-father was detained in a concentration camp, was forced to join the German army, escaped and then served with Allied forces in the west. Many attribute Tusk’s narrow loss of the presidential election to the effect of this accusation.
· In March 2008, Kurski prepared some highly-controversial video footage for President Lech Kaczynski, aired as part of a televised presidential address against the Lisbon Treaty. This footage featured:
= pictures of a gay marriage in Canada, above a caption saying that the Lisbon Treaty would ‘affect the accepted moral order in Poland’. (This was an attack on non-discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation guaranteed by the Charter of Fundamental Rights). The gay couple featured, Brendan Fay and Thomas Moulton, objected strongly to their picture being used without their consent. However, Law and Justice MP Nelly Rokita said that she wanted to meet Mr Fay ‘to see how far Europe, the US and Canada have lost their way on these issues’.
= pictures of German Chancellor Angela Merkel meeting with Erika Steinbach, the leader campaigner for a museum for Germans deported from Poland at the end of the second world war, who is something of a hate-figure in Polish politics.
· Polish prime minister Donald Tusk reacted violently to this broadcast (by his own President), saying: ‘Scaring Poles that the EU poses a danger on the part of homosexuals and Germans is foolish, indecent, contrary to our experience and fatally harmful to Poland’. Kurski’s foray into media production was generally judged to have been a public relations disaster.
· In May 2009, the Polish news agency PAP reported that Kurski was almost the least trusted major politician in the country (at 39 per cent), just ahead of fellow Law and Justice candidate Zbigniew Ziobro (37 per cent) see below.
3) Miroslaw PIOTROWSKI
Number one on Lubelskie (Lublin) regional list for Law and Justice. Aged 43. League of Polish Families MEP until 2009.
· A leading climate change ‘denier’, Piotrowski told the European Parliament in January 2008 that the EU was ‘taking up arms against things that have nothing to do with human activity’ and ‘seeking to impose huge costs on the citizens of Europe for an action it has dreamed up from the realm of science fiction – actually, more fiction than science’. In December 2008, he added that the ‘human impact on climate change is negligible’.
· During a European Parliament debate on the forced rendition by CIA of prisoners in July 2006, Piotrowski said that accusations of secret flights were based on ‘unfounded media information’ and that investigations were a waste of taxpayer’s money.
There is one former Self-Defence member in top slot on a Law and Justice regional list:
4) Ryszard CZARNECKI
Number one on the Kujawsko-Pomorskie (Torun and Bydgoszcz) regional list of Law and Justice. Aged 46. Law and Justice MEP since 2007. Previously Self-Defence (Samoobrona) MEP and Christian National Unity MP.
· In 1995, as then leader of a small Catholic party outside the Polish Parliament, the Christian National Union, Czarnecki reacted to a proposed general constitutional amendment on non-discrimination, including on grounds of sexual orientation, by saying: ‘This is a first step leading to growing demands from these people. The next step would be accepting deviations such as paedophilia or zoophilia’.
· On 12 June 2006, the International Herald Tribune described Self-Defence, of which Czarnecki was a member at the time, as ‘a peasant party whose leader openly admires the dictator of Belarus’. The policies of Self-Defence – which presumably Czarnecki supported until his expulsion for personal disloyalty to its leader, Andrzej Lepper – include expanding agricultural spending, increasing social rights, opposing foreign investment, and the active use of civil disobedience (including loud speakers in Parliament). Several of Self-Defence’s MPs have been under investigation for forgery, banditry and other criminal offences.
· Ryszard Czarnecki uses the potential link with the British Conservatives as a cloak of respectability. He recently told the Polska Times and Dziennik that Law and Justice could not be part of the ‘radical right’ because its association with the Conservative Party belied that and the latter was not on the ‘rightist margin’.
5) Ryszard LEGUTKO
Finally, there are two other candidates – from Law and Justice itself and again top of their regional lists – who have views that sit uneasily with David Cameron’s new-look Conservatives:
Number one on Dolnoslaskie and Opolskie regional list (Wroclaw and Opole) for Law and Justice. Aged 59. Former professor of philosophy. Polish Senator for Law and Justice since 2005. Minister of Education in 2007.
· Legutko is the author of book ‘I don’t like Tolerance’ (1993) and essay entitled ‘Tolerance does not solve anything’ (1998). Described gays and lesbians as ‘people of a disturbed sphere of sexual desire’.
· In Polish daily Rzeczpospolita, he described those teaching gay and lesbian studies as ‘a legion of university parasites’ and the gay and lesbian movement as the ‘invented party of the wronged’.
· In winter 2008 edition of Modern Age, he described western liberals as ‘ideological commissars’ with an ‘irresistible urge to dominate’ others.
6) Zbigniew ZIOBRO
Number one on the Malopolskie and Swietokryskie (Krakow and Kielce) regional list for Law and Justice. Aged 39. Law and Justice MP since 2005. Minister of Justice 2005-07.
· Ziobro was Minister of Justice during the Law and Justice period of government. He was condemned as the ‘Sheriff of Warsaw’ by the Polish newspaper Rzecepospolita , with legal professionals accusing him of ‘reverting to Stalinist methods’ and ‘violating civil liberties’. Recently the Polish News Bulletin talked of his ‘Robespierre mentality’.
· Before becoming Justice Minister, Ziobro introduced a bill into the Polish parliament, on behalf of Law and Justice, to restore the death penalty in Poland. According to Warsaw Voice, Ziobro ‘argued that the death penalty was just and ethical, efficient in discouraging and preventing the most heinous crimes’.
· Ziobro is considered by Radio Maryja to be one of Poland’s most ‘positive’ politicians. Newsweek Polska reports that that the head of Radio Maryja, Tadeusz Rydzyk, has been considering promoting Ziobro as the right’s candidate in the 2010 presidential elections, if Lech Kaczynski, whom some consider too moderate, did not run again.
· Whilst Justice Minister, Ziobro caused controversy by ordering local prosecution offices to investigate specifically if ‘any crimes of a paedophile nature have been committed by homosexual persons’ in their areas. This followed the announcement by the state prosecutor in June 2006 of an investigation of all gay groups for illegal financing, criminal connections and paedophilia.
· The Economist reported on 29 September 2007: ‘Nerves are also jangling at the zealous behaviour of the justice minister, Zbigniew Ziobro. His fondness for announcing investigations and arrests at press conferences, and his enthusiasm for setting his prosecutors on to political opponents, suggest that he has little regard for the separation of power or for due process.’
· Since leaving office, Ziobro has been involved in several court cases or investigations. In February 2008, the Irish Times reported that he ‘faces an official inquiry into widespread use of phone taps without judicial approval. The investigation has been hampered by the fact that Mr Ziobrio’s official laptop has been destroyed – apparently after being driven over by a car’.
· In May 2009, Newsweek Polska reported that several candidates running to be MEPs have a poor reputation on home turf and are involved in political scandals, singling out Ziobro, who ‘presently divides his time between running his EP campaign and interrogations by the prosecutor’s office’.
· In May 2009, the Polish news agency PAP reported that Ziobro is the least trusted major politician in the country (at 37 per cent), just behind fellow Law and Justice candidate Jacek Kurski (39 per cent) see above.
Additional Editorial Comment on Law and Justice (PiS)
‘Poland’s Bigoted Government’ – Editorial, International Herald Tribune –
12 June 2006
‘Some formerly Communist countries that eagerly joined the European Union are balking at the social policies that come with democracy. They are led by the union’s largest new member, Poland, which is now run by a right-wing nationalist government that seems intent on violating the rights of minority groups, beginning with an attack on gays.
The government is led by the conservative Law and Justice Party, founded by the identical twin brothers who now run Poland: Lech Kaczynski, the country’s president, and his brother Jaroslaw, who leads the party. Law and Justice got its parliamentary majority by aligning itself with two dangerous fringe parties: Self-Defense, a peasant party whose leader openly admires the dictator of Belarus, Aleksandr Lukashenko; and the League of Polish Families, an ultra-right-wing Catholic party.
Human Rights Watch reports that a League parliamentarian, Wojciech Wierzejski, accused homosexuals of running pedophile, drug-trafficking and other criminal organizations. At his urging, the state has instructed local prosecutors to investigate homosexuals for pedophilia.
President Kaczynski banned gay rights marches when he was mayor of Warsaw and members of the League’s youth wing have attacked gay rights marchers. Wierzejski said that people who marched in a gay rights demonstration planned in Warsaw last weekend should be “bashed with a baton”.
The problems go well beyond homophobia. The preferred broadcasting outlet of Poland’s government is Radio Maryja, a Catholic radio station with millions of listeners that is openly nationalist, anti-Semitic and anti-foreigner. It has resisted admonishments from Pope Benedict XVI to stop talking about politics. Radio Maryja’s support was crucial in Lech Kaczynski’s presidential campaign and Jaroslaw Kaczynski is a frequent guest on the station.
In late May, the chief rabbi of Poland, Michael Schudrich, was punched in the chest and sprayed with what appeared to be pepper spray by a young man shouting “Poland for the Poles.” President Kaczynski personally apologized to Schudrich and condemned anti-Semitism. But the rest of the government’s actions give an official wink to bigotry.’
The Economist – ‘Bad Habits: Law and Justice may win again’ –
29 September 2007
‘It is easy to depict PiS as a bunch of provincial incompetents, obsessed by historical grievances and ignorant of the modern world. Strong economic growth has disguised Poland’s soggy public finances, lousy bureaucracy, bad roads and inadequate schools. PiS has so far done little to remedy these. The PiS leader and prime minister, Jaroslaw Kacynski, and his twin brother Lech, who is president, have also master-minded a resentful and unpredictable foreign policy that reduces even friendly European countries to despair.
The biggest worry is the blurring of lines between politics and public institutions. It is odd that a partisan political appointee, Antoni Macierewicz, runs the military counter-intelligence service; odder still that he is standing for parliament. “Macierewicz can spend the morning in the office reading transcripts of our conversations, and the afternoon at PiS campaign headquarters telling them what we are up to”, says an opposition leader, as he scribbles down a point, safe from the bugs he says are in his home.
Nerves are also jangling at the zealous behaviour of the justice minister, Zbigniew Ziobro. His fondness for announcing investigations and arrests at press conferences, and his enthusiasm for setting his prosecutors on to political opponents, suggest that he has little regard for the separation of power or for due process.
PiS supporters strongly contest all this. The climate of fear is created by a hysterical media, not the government, says Adam Bielan, a party strategist. PiS won the 2005 election by promising to uproot the uklad, a network of ex-spies, corrupt businessmen and political insiders who have dominated Poland since 1989. Mr Ziobro’s public toughness is changing the climate; the howls of protest are self-interested, and a sign that the anti-corruption offensive is working. A stronger electoral mandate will let PiS finish the job.
He has a point. Sleaze had become pervasive in Poland. The intelligence services had often escaped political oversight in previous years, and their veterans have an alarming knack of finding profitable business niches. But Mr Kaczynski has yet to prove that the uklad is as sinister as he claims. An investigation by Mr Macierewicz into the now disbanded military-intelligence service, the WSI, produced only an inconclusive preliminary report. An update is now promised.
Moreover, the cure prescribed by PiS could be worse than the disease. Poland needs strong, politically neutral institutions and a more open and deregulated economy. Purging suspect officials only to replace them with party placemen is not going to deliver these. Nor will political misuse of the intelligence services make them any cleaner. Witch-hunts can create paralysis in government, leaving nobody willing to take a decision, for fear of being accused of corruption if it goes wrong.
Claims that Polish democracy is in danger are overdone. But PiS has not calmed such fears with a partisan approach to public broadcasting. The government seems also to have used bureaucratic harassment to get a privately owned television channel to sack its star presenter, Tomasz Lis, who was a trenchant critic. Mr Lis is moving his show to the internet.
Optimists hope that, if PiS wins, it will calm down and concentrate on the mundane business of government. But its mix of revisionist history, contempt for the constitution and equation of opposition with treason carries a nasty whiff of Vladimir Putin’s Kremlin. Jaroslaw Kaczynski find comparisons with the Russian president absurd and insulting. But he could do more to avoid them being drawn.’Author : eurorealist