Kaczynski to leave gov't, focus on party issues

Wojciech Olkuśnik/PAP

Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the leader of Poland's ruling party and a deputy prime minister, has said he will leave the government by the end of March to prepare his party for the next election.

Kaczynski, who is responsible for national security issues in the government but is also seen as the most powerful political figure in Poland, heads the conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party which together with small allies holds a fragile majority in parliament.

Describing the condition of his party in an interview with the right-wing daily Gazeta Polska Codziennie, Kaczynski said: "Our party must become active in areas that are significant. Today, it is often the case that it is active but not in areas where it should be.

"That's why, by the end of the first quarter, I'll most probably resign from the government post to focus solely on the party," Kaczynski said.

Poland's growing conflict with the EU over the rule of law, media freedom and minority rights has strained relations within the broader United Right coalition in which PiS is the backbone party. A small ally, Solidary Poland, has advocated for a tougher stance towards Brussels compared to that of the government's, and has contested the prime minister's agreement to a new conditionality mechanism that ties EU funding to the condition of the rule of law in EU member states.

PiS has also been concerned about its narrowing lead over its main rival, the centrist Civic Coalition, and that despite leading in the polls, it could be unable to secure a majority in parliament.

Kaczynski estimated the probability of PiS retaining power after the next parliamentary election, scheduled for 2023, as "strong".

"There are difficult times ahead of us owing to such issues as the (coronavirus) pandemic, the global economic crisis and aggression from the East," Kaczynski said, referring to a migration pressure from Belarus, where thousands of migrants from the Middle East and Africa are looking for an opportunity to get into the EU through Poland.

"For the moment we're successful in coping with these challenges and, if nothing changes, I estimate our chances as really high," Kaczynski said.