Law and Justice
|Law and Justice
Prawo i Sprawiedliwość
|Founded||13 June 2001|
|Headquarters||ul. Nowogrodzka 84/86 02-018 Warsaw|
|European affiliation||Alliance of European Conservatives and Reformists|
|European Parliament group||European Conservatives and Reformists|
Law and Justice (Polish: Prawo i Sprawiedliwość (help·info)), abbreviated to PiS, is a national conservative political party in Poland. With 138 seats in the Sejm and 30 in the Senate, it is the second-largest party in the Polish parliament.
The party was founded in 2001 by the Kaczyński twins, Lech and Jarosław. It was formed from part of the Solidarity Electoral Action (AWS), with the Christian democratic Centre Agreement forming the new party's core. The party won the 2005 election, while Lech Kaczyński won the presidency. Jarosław served as Prime Minister, before calling elections in 2007, in which the party came second to Civic Platform. Several leading members, including Lech Kaczyński, died in a plane crash in 2010.
The party programme is dominated by the Kaczyński's anti-corruption, conservative, law and order agenda. It has embraced economic interventionism, while maintaining a socially conservative stance that moved in 2005 towards the Catholic Church; the party's Catholic-nationalist wing split off in 2011 to form United Poland. The party is soft eurosceptic; PiS is a member of the anti-federalist Alliance of European Conservatives and Reformists and its eleven MEPs sit in the ECR Group.
The party was created on a wave of popularity gained by late president of Poland Lech Kaczyński while heading the Polish Ministry of Justice (June 2000 to July 2001) in the AWS-led government, although local committees began appearing from March 22, 2001. The AWS itself was created from a diverse array of many small right-wing political parties.
In the 2005 general election, PiS took first place with 27.0% of votes, which gave it 155 out of 460 seats in the Sejm and 49 out of 100 seats in the Senate. A coalition of Civic Platform (PO) and PiS was almost universally expected to be the most likely government to form after the election. The putative coalition parties had a falling out, however, related to fierce contest for the Polish presidency. In the end, Lech Kaczyński won the second round of the presidential election on 23 October 2005 with 54.0% of the vote, ahead of Donald Tusk, the PO candidate.
After the 2005 elections, PiS formed a minority government headed by Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz as prime minister, an arrangement that eventually turned out to be unworkable. In July 2006 PiS formed a majority government with the populist Self-Defense of the Republic of Poland and nationalist League of Polish Families, headed by the PiS party leader Jarosław Kaczyński. Association with these parties, on the margins of Polish politics, severely affected the reputation of PiS. When accusations of corruption and sexual harassment against the Andrzej Lepper, the leader of Self Defense, surfaced, PiS chose to end the coalition and called for new elections.
In the 2007 general election PiS managed to secure 32.1% of votes. Although an improvement over the results from two years before, the results were nevertheless a defeat for the party, as Civic Platform (PO) gathered 41.5% of support. The party won 166 out of 460 seats in the Sejm and 39 seats in Poland's Senate.
On 10 April 2010, its former leader Lech Kaczyński died in the 2010 Polish Air Force Tu-154 crash.
In January 2010, a breakaway faction led by Jerzy Polaczek split from the party to form Poland Plus. Its seven members of the Sejm came from the centrist, economically liberal wing of the party. On 24 September 2010, the group was disbanded, with most of its Sejm members, including Polaczek, returning to Law and Justice.
On 16 November 2010, MPs Joanna Kluzik-Rostkowska, Elzbieta Jakubiak and Pawel Poncyljusz, and MEPs Adam Bielan and Michał Kamiński formed a new political group, Poland Comes First (Polska jest Najważniejsza). Kamiński said that the Law and Justice party had been taken over by far-right extremists. The breakaway party formed following dissatisfaction with the direction and leadership of Kaczyński.
On 4 November 2011, MEPs Zbigniew Ziobro, Jacek Kurski, and Tadeusz Cymański were ejected from the party, after Ziobro urged the party to split further into two separate parties – centrist and nationalist – with the three representing the nationalist faction. Ziobro's supporters, most of whom on the right-wing of the party, formed a new group in Parliament called United Poland, leading to their expulsion, too. United Poland was formed as a formally separate party in March 2012, but hasn't threatened Law and Justice in opinion polls.
Initially the party was broadly pro-market, although less so than the Civic Platform. It has adopted the social market economy rhetoric of western European Christian democratic parties. In the 2005 election, the party shifted to the protectionist left on economics. As Prime Minister, Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz was more economically liberal than the Kaczyńskis, advocating a position closer to Civic Platform. However, unlike Civic Platform, whose emphasis is the economy, Law and Justice's focus is fighting corruption.
On foreign policy, PiS is Atlanticist and less supportive of European integration than Civic Platform. The party is soft eurosceptic, and opposes a federal Europe. In its campaigns, it emphasises that the European Union should '[serve] Poland and not the other way around'. It is a member of the anti-federalist Alliance of European Conservatives and Reformists, having previously been a part of the Alliance for Europe of the Nations and, before that, the European People's Party.
Like Civic Platform, but unlike the fringe parties to the right, Law and Justice originated from the secular, anti-communist Solidarity trade union (which is a major cleavage in Polish politics). Solidarity's leadership wanted to back Law and Justice in 2005, but was held back by the union's last experience of party politics, in backing Solidarity Electoral Action.
The party appeals to the 'disenfranchised' constituency that has not benefited from economic liberalisation and European integration.
Based on this voter profile, Law and Justice form the core of the conservative post-Solidarity bloc, along with the League of Polish Families and Solidarity Electoral Action, as opposed to liberal conservative post-Solidarity bloc of Civic Platform. The most prominent feature of PiS voters was their emphasis on decommunisation.
The party supports a state-guaranteed minimum social safety net and state intervention in the economy within market economy bounds. During the election campaign it proposed tax decrease to two personal tax rates (18% and 32%) and tax rebates related to the number of children in a family, as well as a reduction of the VAT rate (while keeping a variation between individual types of VAT rates). 18% and 32% tax rates were eventually implemented. Also: a continuation of privatisation with the exclusion of several dozen state companies deemed to be of strategic importance for the country. PiS opposes cutting social welfare spending, and also proposed the introduction of a system of state-guaranteed housing loans (also unimplemented).
PiS is a strong supporter of lustration (lustracja), a verification system created ostensively to combat the influence of the Communist era security apparatus in Polish society. While current lustration laws require the verification of those who serve in public offices, PiS wants to expand the process to include university professors, lawyers, journalists, managers of large companies, and others performing "public functions". Those found to have collaborated with the security service, according to the party, should be forbidden to practice in their professions.
PiS also supports revealing the names of all secret agents from the time of the communist regime.
Crime and corruption
PiS advocates increased criminal penalties. It postulates aggressive anti-corruption measures (including creation of an Anti-Corruption Office, open disclosure of the assets of politicians and important public servants), as well as broad and various measures to smooth the working of public institutions.
Constitution, power structures
PiS has presented a project for constitutional reform including, among others: allowing the president the right to pass laws by decree (when prompted to do so by the Cabinet), a reduction of the number of members of the Sejm and Senat, and removal of constitutional bodies overseeing the media and monetary policy.
The party is in favour of strengthening the Polish Army through diminishing bureaucracy and raising military expenditures, especially for modernization of army equipment. PiS plans to introduce a fully professional army and end conscription by 2012 (in August 2008, compulsory military service was abolished in Poland). It is also in favor of participation of Poland in foreign military missions led by the United Nations, NATO and United States, in countries like Afghanistan and Iraq. Following the election, it declared that Polish soldiers would remain in Iraq for another 12 months.
The party supports integration with the European Union on terms beneficial for Poland. It supports economic integration and tightening the cooperation in areas of energetic security and military, but is skeptical about closer political integration. It is against formation of European superstate or federation. PiS is in favor of strong political and military alliance of Poland with the United States.
In the European Parliament it is a member of the European Conservatives and Reformists, a group founded in 2009 to challenge the prevailing pro-federalist ethos of the European Parliament and address the democratic deficit existing at a European level.
PiS supports state provided health care.
The party's views on social issues are broadly similar to those of conservative parties in other European countries. It favors restrictions on abortion, which is already illegal except in extraordinary circumstances. It is also against euthanasia. It opposes same-sex marriages or any other form of legal recognition of homosexual couples. The PiS are highly critical of sex and violence in the media.
PiS promotes itself as a pro-family party. Prior to elections, it promised to build 3 million inexpensive housing units as a way to help young couples get married. Once in government, it pushed through legislations lengthening maternal leaves and offered qualified support to the idea of giving parents a grant for every newly-born child. It favors shutting down large supermarkets on Sundays and holidays, so their workers can spend more time with their families.
While PiS presents itself as a champion of the Catholic Church, its policies do not always align with the Church's teaching. It has also shown some flexibility in such matters as in vitro fertilization and stem cell research.
In 2004, Poznań city council members from the Law and Justice party "compared homosexuality to pedophilia, necrophilia and zoophilia, stating that this kind of behaviour, just like alcoholism and drug abuse should not be promoted".
On 21 September 2005, Jarosław Kaczyński said that "homosexuals should not be isolated, however they should not be school teachers for example. Active homosexuals surely not, in any case", but that homosexuals "should not be discriminated otherwise". He has also stated, "The affirmation of homosexuality will lead to the downfall of civilization. We can't agree to it". Lech Kaczynski, while mayor of Warsaw, refused authorization for a gay pride march; declaring that it would be obscene and offensive to other people's religious beliefs. A Warsaw court later ruled that Kaczynski's actions were illegal.
The party's position on gay rights, and their perceived homophobia, has led to controversy in the United Kingdom where the British Conservative Party joined them in the anti-federalist grouping European Conservatives and Reformists. The Labour Party criticised the Conservatives; with former British Minister for Europe Denis MacShane saying "Tory isolationism is now creating a network of unpleasant, ugly, anti-European parties grouped around Cameron and Hague, but surely they should draw the line at links with gay-bashing homophobes". Shadow Foreign Secretary William Hague defended the PiS and called the accusations of homophobia ""ill-informed and out of date". The controversy continued after a video from 2000 was released of Michał Kamiński using the derogatory polish word "pedał" (usually translated into English as fag or queer) to refer to gay rights campaigners. A spokesperson for Kaminski said the term had a different connotation a decade ago and is not a word he would use today. Conservative MEP Timothy Kirkhope defended Kaminski saying his remarks were taken out of context. Kamiński later quit the party and joined the more moderate Poland Comes First party.
Krystyna Pawłowicz, Law and Justice member of parliament said "homosexuals are socially useless", and that "the society cannot offer a sweet life to unstable, futile relationships of people, from whom the society gets no benefit, only because of their sexual bonds". She also spoke against homosexuals raising children: "Children like these are not brought up correctly, cannot establish a family, commit suicides more often and are frequently sexually abused".
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Prawo i Sprawiedliwość|
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