Grzegorz Schetyna, leader of the biggest opposition party the Civic Platform asks Jarosław Kaczyński, the leader of the ruling Law and Justice, to answer accusations made about receiving money to pay a bribe, or face a prosecutor to answer them if the opposition wins office.
Mr Schetyna’s remarks came at a rally of the European Coalition (KE) electoral alliance of centrists, liberals, post-communist social democrats, christian democrats and greens. The coalition has been set up to fight Law and Justice in this year’s European elections, and may well stay together for the Parliamentary elections in the autumn. The rally took place in the lion’s den of Law and Justice (PiS), Podkarpacie Province, a stronghold of the ruling party.
The KE leader was referring to the accusations made by an Austrian developer Gerald Birgfellner that Jarosław Kaczyński, the PiS leader, asked him to pay money that was to be used for paying off a member of a foundation’ board to support a decision to proceed with a real estate project in Warsaw. The Austrian has reported Mr Kaczyński to the prosecutor for deception and has alleged that the ruling party leader took an envelope with 50,000 PLN.
Should a future public prosecutor pursue Mr Kaczyński on the matter Mr Schetyna’s words will be used as evidence of clear political instruction by Mr Kaczyński’s attorneys. The KE has been campaigning for the independence of the judiciary arguing that the present government is directing the judiciary and making it dependent on party political decisions.
Mr Schetyna attacks ruling party cronyism and its record on defence and education
Mr Schetyna said that “everything is falling apart, and we see this from day to day as far as the Polish state is concerned.” This from a leader of a party that accused PiS in 2015 of saying that “Poland was in ruins”. No PiS politician actually uttered these words. They were from a social media campaign trying to push back on a PiS campaign criticising the then PO government but were picked up by media hostile to PiS as evidence that PiS was misrepresenting the state the country was in.
The PO leader concentrated his ire on the fact that the present government has made frequent changes in the management of state companies. “PGZ” (state arms consortium) has the fourth Board chairman in four years. It’s even ‘better’ in “Energa” (state energy consortium) where we are on the eighth chief.
Schetyna attacked PiS on its defence record, arguing the government had not done enough to modernise and properly equip the army. He also criticised the ruling party for its intransigence over raising teachers’ pay and accused it of organising a campaign vilifying teachers in the public media.
PO raises Smolensk as an election issue
Having spent the last nine years arguing that it is PiS who are politicising the Smolensk tragedy it may come as a bit of a surprise that the PO are campaigning on the issue rather than PiS. They have already run a paid for party political TV ad on the issue.
At the rally Mr Schetyna called for Antoni Macierewicz, the former defence minister, to be held to account for the Smolensk investigation and asked the ruling party leader when he intended to “apologise to the nation for telling lies about the crash being an act of sabotage”.
There are some PiS politicians who suspect Smoleński may have involved an act of sabotage. There is no conclusive evidence of this, but there have now been two reports of traces of TNT being found on parts of the plane’s wreckage.
It is interesting PO should wish to debate this issue. The reason may lie in the fact that talk of Russian sabotage has in the past caused fears among parts of the electorate that Poland, under PiS, would open up conflicts with Russia which the country could not win.