End of the Beginning for Polish Ruling Party

Kancelaria Sejmu/Krzysztof Kurek via flickr // CC 2.0

Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the leader of the Law and Justice (PiS) party, and the current Deputy Prime Minister of Poland, decided to confront its vicious coalition partner. If the purges in the companies do not force the Solidarity Poland (SP) party – headed by controversial Minister of Justice Zbigniew Ziobro – to change its course, there will be a fierce fight between its recent allies, a continuous series of crises and maneuvers on the verge of the applicable law, and the gradual bleeding out of the PiS government, which will be responsible for the state of chaos. This may not be the beginning of the end yet, but it is definitely the end of the beginning.

If the reports of the ONET.pl platform are confirmed, it would mean that the United Right informal alliance will cease to exist and the government will lose its majority in the Sejm. A race against time begins. The hunting season for deputies/opportunists can be considered open.

With the uncertain future of the right-wing government, the willingness of other formations (Polish People’s Party, Confederation Liberty and Independence) to support the PiS government may be limited in this situation. Each month without a parliamentary majority means losses for the ruling party.

Many uncomfortable topics can be put off for the time being – as long as one has their own speaker in the Sejm, hence the lower chamber of the Polish parliament. But if the clash between recent allies takes on the features of a total war (sectarian fights are usually the most ruthless), then PiS may begin to lose control of the situation.

And the Sejm would finally gain importance as an arena for policy making. It is also a perfect situation for the president, who may want to play a role that is not only decorative.

At this point, a lot depends on the cohesion of the Solidarity Poland community. If they understand that the stakes in the game are extremely high and survive the siege, then Kaczynski will have to step back or call an election. The question is whether the SP believes in the success of an independent run?

Their tough stance on the surprisingly controversial Law on Impunity and Animal Protection that has been debated in the last few weeks in Poland shows that they have decided to pursue political independence. Since Kaczynski refused to allow them to become part of PiS, they are forced to build their own identity.

Jaroslaw Gowin’s Agreement party is clearly not ready for such an option – due to the lack of an electorate for such a party – which explains their conciliation and breaking the tactical ‘alliance of add-ons’. This means that the government can count on a short-term majority on many issues. But in fundamental matters, such as a vote of no confidence in ministers, the election of the Ombudsman or, in particular, the budget act, not necessarily.

One can also forget about bills significantly changing the state system – unless they have broad support (for example, as regards the ridiculous fight with foreign capital in the media). With Solidarity Poland and the Confederation becoming radicalized, it will be difficult for PiS to win an auction for identity projects with them. At the same time, it cannot count on support from the opposition parties, for which only the complete defeat of the PiS government means the possibility of coming to power in the future.

The future of right-wing rule in Poland is being decided right now. The winner will be either a more or less coherent coalition of interest – which will allow for stable governance, at least until the next turning point; or, in six months or a year, we will face a parliamentary election (the president may or may not dissolve the parliament if it does not present the budget), from which PiS may still emerge victorious. This is, however, not very likely in the scenario of independent rule (which would increase, though, the chances of politically murdering Minister Ziobro).

There is also a third option – being stuck with the ongoing cabinet crisis – maybe even until the end of the term of office of the parliament.

Paradoxically, this is a very convenient scenario for the opposition, one that would lead to discrediting the PiS rule for many years, with a far-reaching erosion of electoral support for the now ruling party.

In the midst of a pandemic, an unstable situation beyond our eastern border, disastrous relations with the EU countries, and uncertainty about the future of Poland’s key military ally, i.e. the United States, power focused on factional wars is a scenario that Poland simply cannot afford.

The article was originally published in Polish at: https://liberte.pl/koniec-poczatku/

Translated by Olga Łabendowicz

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