The weekend was nervous. The journalists and publicist were racing in writing pieces and articles how the situation in the ruling coalition is critical, and how we are just about to see something of historical value. On Monday, media were pumping it even further, spreading rumours, and claiming that “decision will be announced just after the meeting at Kaczyński’s place finishes”. And what the PiS spokesperson told us? “A decission about decisive actions have been made. We will inform you about the details in due time”. In other words: nothing new. So what is it all about?
You might have not noticed, but Poland’s ruling government is actually a coalition government. Simplifying slightly, the main course – Kaczyński’s PiS – comes with two sides: Polska Razem led by Jarosław Gowin, renegade from Platforma Obywatelska and Solidarna Polska, party of Zbigniew Ziobro, who over decade ago was even called a dauphin of PiS, but after unsuccessfully challenging Kaczyński was kicked out of PiS. Some people had followed him, only to find that they are nobodies without Kaczyński. Unfortunately to them, Kaczyński does not follow Jesus’s teaching when it comes to prodigal sons, so while they have certain amount of power, Ziobro can forget about taking over PiS after Kaczyński – now Mateusz Morawiecki is a new favourite.
But Ziobro is really hungry for power, so began building his own position by associating himself with the media emporium of father Tadeusz Rydzyk and his position as Minister of Justice and prosecutor general allowed him to obtain information that could be used to blackmail members of PiS. He felt too sure of himself, so when there was some talking about reducing the number of ministries (Polish government has literally hundreds of ministers, being one of the most numerous in the EU), which would mean that his party will loose a lot influence, he decided to begin openly opposing Kaczyński. The latter did not liked it. And no, this is not about that Ziobro voted against new law preventing cruelty on animals (see the last chapter of the series). He caused Kaczyński much more troubles by refusing to support new law regarding irregularities during COVID-19 pandemics, which (provided that they “acted for the greater good”, which is very unclear criteria) would give impunity to those, who broke the law during pandemics. That really pissed Kaczyński, as without that bill Mateusz Morawiecki can get in trouble for his attempt to organise illegal postal elections. And unlike with the animal rights bill, here Kaczyński cannot count on opposition to support him.
For the whole weekend PiS politicians were pretty adamant that the coalition is over, that Ziobro (and Gowin, who’s people abstained from voting on the animal right bill) can pack their things and that PiS is ready for minority government. But after some frenzy, the atmosphere cooled down. PiS realised, that they won’t be able to rule without their satellites, and they won’t risk early election, as this is exactly how they lost power back in 2007. Ziobro’s people started to think about “civilian causalities” – about all those cousins, wives and uncles of their activists, who were given cosy jobs in state controlled companies and institutions (Oko.press compiled a list of those here)and who would definitely have to go if Ziobro lost the stand-off with Kaczyński.
At the moment of writing there is a stalemate. Kaczyński, despite blusterous announcements, haven’t kicked Ziobro out of government. Ziobro, while humbled himself a little, made it clear, that he does not want to back down… He feels strong, having Tadeusz Rydzyk behind his back. After all, he is spending millions (well, it’s not like he is spending his own, he uses money that should be helping victims of the crime) on making Rydzyk happy by sponsoring his “Centre for protection of the rights of Christians”. But it’s not like PiS is not trying to please Rydzyk either. Only in 2020 the museum of Polish Catholicism, built by Rydzyk, was given 64 000 000 of public money. The total funds allocated for that museum have risen from 70 to 117 millions.
Father Rydzyk of course has no problem sucking money from whenever possible. Why would he, especially that he does not have to provide financial information or (as some believe, as due to the lack of financial information we don’t really know) pay his due taxes. So the conflict between Ziobro and Kaczyński who both want to drag him to their side is like Christmas to him. And the only fly in the ointment is that Canadian Catholic Church barred him from visiting Polish diaspora there, citing his anti-Semitic and xenophobic views.
Meanwhile, as the Polish saying goes, where two fight, third sees a chance. So Mariusz Banaś, chairman of the National Audit Office (remember him?), who also had a stand-off with Kaczyński but stayed in his post after making it clear, that he has enough dirt in his files to drag half of PiS down with him, raised his head as well. He published results of the audit of Beata Kempa, former minister of humanitarian aid (a position created for her so she has something to do, and at the same time to show, that we don’t need to take refugees into our country to help them). The audit shows that, well, she wasn’t that much help after all – perhaps then it’s not much loss that when she has been elected to Euro-parliament, she quit the government and now we don’t have a special minister for humanitarian aid any more. In any case it’s interesting, because while Kempa is one of Ziobro’s people, this audit shows the government of Mateusz Morawiecki in bad light…
But apart from that nothing had changed. Poland is still plagued by new ideologies. Minister of Agriculture blabbered something about “ideologies, who say that milk is a result of rape of cows”, the church helps to gather signatures under the proposed homophobic law “Stop LGBT” – The map with all the churches that support that action can be seen here:
One of those chapels is an official Border Guard chapel, and apart from everything I really would like to know: what, for fox’s sake, the Border Guard needs a chapel for? Perhaps we would all have to say “Hail Mary” ten times to be allowed to cross the border into Poland? I would not be surprise – many parents just learned, that their children are forced to sit in (so far facultative) religious education classes. The schools quote COVID-19 as the reason for doing so, claiming that there is no other place children can wait safety for that class to be over, but that would not be a problem in the first place, if the law that says that religion should be either first or last class in the day has not been widely ignored everywhere…
Meanwhile the fight against LGBT does not help Poland on the international stage. It had been condemned by the European Parliament and European Commission, as well as US presidential candidate Joe Biden. Norway, that recently refused to agree that Norwegian Funds in Poland are to be distributed by the Polish government, announced that those councils that proclaimed themselves LGBT-free zones will not receive any funds… And this time it’s serious money, the city of Kraśnik are at risk of losing 3, or even 10 000 00 euros. This time there is no hope that the government will make it up for them…
Surely even in such dire straits Poland could do something to defend its position at the European stage. Unfortunately our influence there will be even less significant, after Polish ministry of foreign affairs refused to support even single candidate to work in EU delegatures – de facto EU’s diplomatic service. This happened the first time in EU’s history. Why? It’s simple. There aren’t any experienced diplomats left in Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs who would qualify for such jobs, and those who do, were working there under previous government, so PiS won’t support them…
But at least TVP wanted to give LGBT community a voice. A feminist organization has published a screen from the chat, in which a TVP employee approached them, asking for some LGBT person willing to speak with them. They wanted to know “why they want to be treated like the rest of the society”. Telling, isn’t it?
But at least president Duda has a new adviser. Kinga Duda a lawyer with (if we believe president’s website) an enormous experience gathered in “numerous Polish and international legal firms, as well as in European Parliament” who also did a post grad in some School of Law in mediocre Catholic University in the USA. I have to say this is astonishing experience for someone, who graduated just last year. I am surprised that with all those qualifications nobody wanted to give her a real job and she has to accept unpaid position at her father’s….
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Follow up from the previous chapter: The AirPnP app, that was to connect people in need of number one or number two with people willing to share their toilets was, as I predicted a hoax created by city activist to stress the need of creating more public toilets in Warsaw.
This column was written for Britské Listy
Picture of Tadeusz Rydzyk used in collage: Manitarski (CC 4.0) via Wikipedia