Two camps within Law and Justice have emerged since Jaroslaw Kaczynski’s failure in the presidential elections last month. In the Polish media they are calling them ‘the radicals’ and ‘the liberals’, the ‘doves’ and ‘hawks’: but we will refer to them as the Attack Dogs versus the HiPiS. (pic - Paweł Poncyliusz with Jaroslaw Kaczynski)
The week after his failed presidential election bid saw him reverting back to type - essentially accusing Russians of covering up evidence of their culpability in the death of his brother. And then the fire and brimstone rhetoric heated up still further over the battle of the Smolensk cross.
He is being urged onto the offensive by fellow attack dogs Jacek Kurski (pictured), MEP Zbigniew Ziobro and others who obviously think that Law and Justice’s role in life is to beat Russians, commies and fellow travellers wherever they can find them and purify Poland of menace.
The balmy days of early summer when Kaczynski was saying that all Poles must come together and bury the political hatchet seem a distant memory. His almost instinctive, snarling aggression has returned. The Attack Dogs have been straining on the leash for too long.
The HiPiS, on the other hand, we have met before. They are led by Kaczynski’s election campaign team leaders, such as Paweł Poncyliusz and Joanna Kluzik-Rostkowska, who we last met on this blog singing ‘Give PiS a chance’ outside a television studio, in a desperate bid to get their man into the presidential palace.
The HiPiS remerged from under a pile of prayer beads following an open letter to Jaroslaw Kaczynski from Law and Justice affiliated European member of parliament Marek Migalski, who wrote on his blog that Jaroslaw was basically a bit of a problem if the party ever wanted to taste power again. Poles are turned off by the aggressive antics and want a higher standard of political debate.
It’s at root a battle of the old and new generation of Law and Justice members: the traditionalists and founders of the party versus a younger, more pragmatic generation of politicians who don’t want to languish in opposition for ever.
There has even been whispers of trying to depose Kaczynski before crucial local elections in the autumn and general elections next spring. But this is unlikely. The Law and Justice party has been associated with the Kaczynski twins ever since they founded the party in 2001 on a wave of anti-corruption populism.
But now the gruesome twosome are a one-some, since Lech’s death in April. When Jaroslaw goes, Law and Justice will go the same way. The party is a personal vehicle for him and his remaining attack dogs. Without a Kaczynski to hold the thing together then Law and Justice will end up in the now large pile of discarded rightwing parties that have come and gone since 1989.
Their only hope is that Zbigniew Ziobro - another former arch-populist justice minister, just like Lech Kaczynski was - could resurrect the party, post Jaroslaw. But surely a Law and Justice without Kaczynski is like a duck without water.
The ruling Civic Platform - from the more liberal wing of Solidarnosc - must be licking their lips and appear in a win-win situation. If Kaczynski stays, they are going to win elections. If Kaczynski goes then they will have two opponents - Dogs and HiPiS - and they will win elections.
The prospects of a coherent opposition to Prime Minister Donald Tusk and his yawn-fest of a government look bleak.