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Home » Poland’s Law and Justice Party Launches Hyper-nationalist Campaign in Hopes to Win Third Term

Poland’s Law and Justice Party Launches Hyper-nationalist Campaign in Hopes to Win Third Term

by Adan Siurana

The conservative government in Poland has courted widespread criticism for subjugating the judiciary and attacking abortion rights. It is also facing growing public discontent over its over-stretched support for the war in Ukraine at the expense of Polish citizens

As Poland gears up for general elections this month, the ruling Law and Justice Party (PiS) has launched a divisive campaign disseminating ultra-nationalist and an anti-migrant rhetoric. Elections to the 460-seat-lower house (Sejm) and the 100-seat-upper house (Senate) of the Polish parliament will be held on October 15. The government has also scheduled a referendum on the same date on the question of privatization of national assets, the European Union (EU) mechanism for allocation of refugees and migrants, rise in the retirement age, and the issue of refugee crossings at the border with Belarus.

The Euro-skeptic PiS has been at loggerheads with the EU and is trying to whip up sentiments against the pro-EU liberal opposition in the country, led by Donald Tusk, who was also the president of the European Council. The left coalition in the upcoming elections comprises the New Left, Left Together, and the Polish Socialist Party, and has launched a dynamic campaign criticizing the conservative and misogynist PiS government.

The PiS was formed in 2001 under the leadership of Lech Kaczynski and Jarosław Kaczyński and shot to prominence riding a hyper-nationalist, conservative, homophobic, and anti-Russia campaign. It came to power in 2015 and returned in the 2019 elections. Poland has seen a drastic rightward shift under the PiS-led government, which has also been undermining national institutions. It has sought to subjugate the judiciary through a set of reforms which sparked widespread protests across the country.

The PiS has also launched a war against women in the country. The Polish constitutional court, instigated by the government, imposed a ban on abortions in October 2020. The government continues to face criticism and protests from women’s rights groups for criminalizing abortions even in the case of fetal defects.

Magdalena Biejat, legislator from Left Together, stated that “Most Poles want abortion laws to be relaxed! Up to 70%. I want abortion legal by the 12th week of pregnancy. The Left is the only group that, without hesitation, has long been proposing such a solution. Abortion should be like in other European countries—accessible, safe, and legal! No covering up by doctors with holy relics! No police on a hospital bed! The left will ease abortion laws!”

The EU and PiS have locked horns on multiple occasions over issues including women’s rights, judicial freedom, and attacks on the LGBT communities. Additionally, while it is hosting a large population of Ukrainian refugees, the PiS government has reinvigorated its campaign against the EU quota on refugees. It is especially against accepting migrants from war-torn Arab countries.

In another manipulative maneuver to consolidate the nationalist sentiment, the PiS leadership has criticized Germany for trying to dictate Polish government affairs. It has also reiterated the demand for reparations from Germany for the atrocities committed against Poland and its people during World War II.

Meanwhile, Poland continues to be a major ally of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in the ongoing war. Even so, the PiS has strained Poland-Ukraine relations on multiple occasions, including by demanding an official apology from Ukraine for the massacre of Poles during World War II and banning the export of duty-free grain from Ukraine.

In the most recent episode, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki stated that the government is now prioritizing strengthening the Polish army rather than arming Ukraine, suggesting a pause in the supply of arms to the country. Even though efforts are underway in Poland and Ukraine to mitigate the aftershocks in the bilateral relation evoked by such a statement, they are largely being perceived as attempts by the PiS to tone down the rising public unrest against its overstretched support to Ukraine at the expense of the Polish citizenry.

Bartosz Bieszczad from the Communist Party of Poland (KPP) told Peoples Dispatch on October 6 that “the ruling neoconservative, pro-US PiS party, brought to power on a wave of popular discontent in 2015 is striving to maintain its rule. Their position has been secured by welfare transfers to the lower classes while limiting civil rights and introducing anti-communist legislation. To rally support, PiS has changed its rhetoric regarding Ukraine, as Polish people are growing weary of paying the costs of the crisis.”

Source: peoplesdispatch

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