The Solidarity legend Lech Wałęsa has unleashed another outburst against the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) government. He said that their rule is leading the country towards a civil war.
Standing in front of the Gdańsk shipyard, the scene of the famous strike of 1980, Lech Wałęsa, the founder and former leader of Solidarity signed the “Declaration in defence of democracy”. The document has been signed by several opposition politicians and it pledges the signatories to campaign in the general election to defeat the ruling party and to monitor the coming parliamentary elections.
Lech Wałęsa pulled no punches. “Terrible and dangerous people have come to power. Irresponsible people who break the constitution and the law”. The party of government he was talking about is currently enjoying double digit leads in opinion polls.
He went on to state that if the present ruling party remains in power a civil war is inevitable.
“Keep a watch over these cheats, outrageous individuals who are wrecking Poland. Hold them to account and remove them from power. If I was younger I’d chase them out myself. But I’m too old now and need you to do the job” he pleaded.
Mr Wałęsa is a longstanding critic of Mr Kaczyński and the ruling party. His personal feud with the ruling party leader goes back to the early 90s when the two clashed about the way the then President Wałesa refused to take action against former communists and secret police informers.
The legendary Solidarity leader was President of Poland in the early nineties. Since then he has not played any significant role in Polish politics but has kept a high profile at home and abroad.
These remarks are par for the course as far as Mr Wałęsa’s relationship with the present government is concerned. He is very open about his hostility towards Mr Kaczyński and his party.
Talk of civil war is however highly alarmist. Who would launch such an onslaught?
Poland’s economy is racing ahead. Social transfers have made the lives of poorer citizens considerably easier. Electoral turnout is increasing election by election. Debate is lively with freedom of speech in full flow. Mass demonstrations are rare. The army and police are fully under civilian control.
Of course Poles are divided over the pace of European integration, cultural issues and the role of the Catholic Church. But these are normal differences in a democratic society which can be seen in many, if not most, western societies.