Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Is Law and Justice (PiS) falling apart?

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)

Jaroslaw's brief trip into the world of consensus, touchy-feely politics following the death of his twin brother Lech in the April 10 Smolensk air disaster, and during the election campaign which ended in his defeat, is over.

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.


ge'ez said...

So now you're saying PiS is right wing and PO liberal?

Seems like you spent quite a bit of time trying to refute that overly simple characterization in days gone by. And rightly so.

I do like the Dogs and HiPiS characterization, though.

The Dog sound a lot like Tea Party types in the US. If they are, they will eventually split from PiS and the HiPiS will be able to establish the first for real Woodstock Nation.

Well, maybe that's not their intention, but it would be fun. Without the Dogs, part of the party platform could even require candidates to wear tie die t-shirts and not suits.

beatroot said...

No, no, no....the average Platform is MORE liberal than the average PiSer...but both parties are coalitions of various types. For instance, Gowin in Platform is as conservative as many PiSers...but some like Palikot is a genuine liberal in Civic Platfdorm. (see that story for a taste of the split within Civic Platform).


But generally, Platform is conservative (social) while liberal (economy)…whereas PiS are nationalist conservatives with a statist economic policy and authoritarian instincts as regards social affairs…

Jannowak57 said...

It is the role in life of every good Pole in life is to beat Russians, commies and fellow travellers wherever they can find them and purify Poland of menace.

Anonymous said...

Nice to see this blog up and running again…so what do you think of the Palikot problem for PO and what effect this will have on local elections?

ge'ez said...


What do you mean by "beat"?

And who exactly are these Russians, commies, and fellow travellers?

Such broad brush strokes.

Do you want to beat all old Russian women? How about Russian children?

Seems to me that given Hitchens' affections for Trotsky, you might want to do him in once and for all. But you recommend that Polish school children read his stuff.

ge'ez said...

The "average" PO is more "liberal" than the "average" PiS-er on the social safety net -- and its impact upon the economy? Nuh-uh.

From what I've been reading, the impression I get is that you can't talk about "generally" or "average" anymore in regard to the two parties being considered - especially PiS which looks like its going to splinter with the real hard core right wingers going their own separate way.

beatroot said...

Hi anon. Local elections? Civic Platform look like winning most of the larger towns and cities…PiS look like getting the smaller councils. Not good for them and their appears only one choice in Poland electorally at the moment which is not good for democracy.

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