Capital punishment is back on the Polish political agenda.
Generally the public is very much in support of the death penalty, it is the politicians and other bodies who oppose it. I am quite sure that it will be difficult to reintroduce death penalty but someone has to start work in this direction.
Those are the words of the far-right League of Polish Families, MEP Maciej Giertych, who is launching a campaign to reinstate the death penalty. He’s going to get half a million people to sign a petition demanding a referendum on the subject.
President Lech Kaczynski said last week that the EU should debate reinstating execution EU-wide.
EU establishment’s jaw hits its boots.
Giertych wants to start with the most outrageous killers – predatory pedophiles who murder children.
“The public is afraid of such criminals after they are released from prison.'
Poland formally gave up capital punishment in the late nineties. But nobody had been executed since 1988.
Donald Tusk, Leader of Opposition Civic Platform, a party that tries to appeal to the more ‘liberal’ voter, said that:
“Everyone would be willing to do away with a freak who kills children but on one condition - everyone has to be aware of the repercussions of the reinstatement of capital punishment in Poland. One of the most important for the millions of Poles would be the weakening of this country's position in the EU or even the exclusion from the most vital membership rights.'
One of the conditions of entering the EU is giving up the death penalty.
As usual with Civic Platform this is rather feeble opposition. The only argument they can come up with against capital punishment is that ‘Brussels won’t like it’.
If Tusk wants to oppose capital punishment then he is going to have to make some rational and coherent moral and judicial arguments why capital punishment will not make children any safer from pedophiles, nor will it make Poland a lovelier, happier, place to live.
But why now?
This might be about the EU, sovereignty, but all politics is local. By jumping on the momentum of Kaczynski’s remark, the League’s petition campaign is an attempt to give it some distance from its senior government coalition partner, Law and Justice (PiS). This could well be about pressing the right populist buttons to reinforce the electoral base.
PiS, who in opposition in 2004 tried to get a reinstatement of the death penalty (and lost by four votes!) and will make noises about reinstating it when in government, are still wary of the huge international consequences if they tried
The League couldn’t care less.
Commentator Oskar Chomicki told Radio Polonia:
'The League of Polish Families wants to be recognized as a separate political entity versus the ruling Law and Justice. It is a local issue but it also has some international repercussions.'
League of Polish Families is hovering around 5% in the opinion polls, barely enough to get them members of parliament in an election or many councilors in the local elections later this year.
It’s time to play the hang ‘em, flog ‘em’ card.