Ruling party leader: I’m no dictator

Jarosław Kaczyński, leader of the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) goes on the attack in a lengthy interview with the conservative “Sieci” weekly. He rejects claims that he has been mixing business with politics and strongly defends the ruling party and its record in office.

Throughout the last two weeks the liberal daily “Gazeta Wyborcza” has been publishing revelations based on taped conversations between Mr Kaczyński and an Austrian real-estate developer who was scoping a construction project. A company owned by a foundation, on the Board of which Mr Kaczyński serves, owned the land on which the construction of two buildings was to take place.

The project never came to fruition. The Austrian developer is now accusing the ruling party leader of having cheated him by not ensuring that he was paid for the work carried out.

In the interview with “Sieci” Mr Kaczyński states that “there is no financial relationship between the foundation and the party [Law and Justice]”. He argues that “there is nothing in those tapes”. However, he is anxious to put the record straight on some allegations that have been made.

He makes clear that a party leader has the right to be a chairman of a Board of a foundation. He regards as “an outrageous manipulation” the claim that the matter has anything to do with the legislation on political parties which forbids them from being directly involved in commercial activities. He argues that there are no financial relations between the Law and Justice party and the foundation. “They are two totally separate institutions,” he says.

In memory of his brother

Asked about the reasons for being involved in the project, the ruling party leader explains that he wanted the investment to host and generate funds for the institute founded in his brother’s name (Lech Kaczyński Institute) so that it could compete with a George-Soros funded foundation in giving grants to conservative NGO projects.

Mr Kaczyński emphasised that he did not receive any income from his service to the foundation. He admits to having been under pressure from his family over the Austrian developer’s involvement in the project. The developer is the husband of his niece.

No dictator

The ruling party leader jokes that the Austrian developer may have believed what he read in the papers about Mr Kaczyński being a “dictator who could make anything happen”, including payment of an invoice by a company owned by the foundation. An invoice which Jarosław Kaczyński states was never submitted to the company and no VAT was every paid on it.

Mr Kaczyński denies that he was ever blackmailed over the issue by the Austrian developer. He find it curious that the developer instead of trying to have his contested invoice settled has chosen to go to high profile lawyers who promptly released all the information to the press.

Radical opposition ‘savage’ and ‘nihilistic’

Mr Kaczyński rejects claims that the ruling party was in any way responsible for hate speech in Poland. He is scathing about the way he and his party have been pilloried in the liberal press and by opposition groupings.

Jarosław Kaczyński believes that they have introduced “savagery” into Polish public life and gives examples of the recent hounding of a female public television journalist and the way demonstrations and visits to the grave of his brother have been disrupted by protests of radical opposition groups. He argues that these groups are often highly hostile to the church and “nihilistic” in their outlook.

No tolerance of corruption

Mr Kaczyński is adamant that his party reacts very quickly to all charges of corruption against its officials and pointed to the way the head of the Financial Supervisory Authority (KNF) was forced to resign following allegations of attempting to solicit a bribe from an owner of a bank.

He distances himself from the head of the central bank (NBP) Adam Glapiński by making clear his displeasure at news of very high earnings for officials in that bank as well as the NBP head’s recommendations for the head of the KNF. He believes that the ruling party was right to force through legislation to make public earnings of officials in the NBP.

The challenge from Mr Biedroń’s ‘Spring’

The ruling party leader is dismissive of the new arrival on Poland’s political scene. He argues that its programme is a festival of uncosted promises that would lead to a rise in taxes. He points to the fact that the new party’s anti-clericalism in its proposals on abortion on demand, removal of religion from schools and civil partnerships for same-sex couples were all policies previously proposed by the failed Palikot Movement in the first half of the present decade.

Mr Kaczyński is convinced his party can win a majority in Parliament again and that it has delivered strong social and economic gains that the electorate will wish to preserve. He sees absolutely no need for any changes in personnel in the personnel at the top of the government.