Opposition parties want Kaczyński to go

Kaczyński, often regarded as the most powerful man in Polish politics, has long courted controversy, recently accusing opposition politicians of “having blood on their hands” for supporting abortion protests during the pandemic. Radek Pietruszka/PAP

Four opposition parties in Poland's parliament have called for Jarosław Kaczyński, leader of the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, to be sacked as deputy prime minister over his handling of recent street protests.

The Left and the pro-agrarian Polish People's Party (PSL) have put their weight behind a dismissal motion organised by the main opposition grouping, the Civic Coalition (KO). The far-right Confederation also wants Kaczyński out, but is not sure whether to back KO's initiative.

Kaczyński, often regarded as the most powerful man in Polish politics, has long courted controversy, recently accusing opposition politicians of “having blood on their hands” for supporting abortion protests during the pandemic.

As deputy prime minister, he is responsible, in general, for the country's security, but individual ministers supervise the actual departments.

Borys Budka, leader of KO's backbone party, the Civic Platform, listed what he called Kaczyński's "five sins".

Not pulling his punches he accused the Law and Justice leader of "a rapid deterioration of the security of Poles," "unpredictability," "the destruction of state institutions," "five years of efforts to push Poland out of the EU" and "dividing and conflicting Poles."

The Left's spokesperson, Anna Maria Żukowska, told PAP that her party will support all motions to dismiss any PiS minister, calling Kaczyński the worst-performing PiS official, along with the interior and justice ministers.

"Since he became deputy prime minister, the country's security has been deteriorating," she said.

The PSL's deputy leader Marek Sawicki said "it is clearly visible that from the moment he (Kaczyński - PAP) took up the position, the security has not been increasing, but is constantly being eroded, both health security and that on the streets."

The criticism comes in the wake of recent anti-government protests outside the Polish parliament, which prompted accusations that the police had used heavy-handed tactics against peaceful protestors.

Officers, some of them in plain clothes, used tear gas and batons against the demonstrators, mostly women and young people. A number of protesters have also been fined for breaking a ban on gatherings introduced due to the coronavirus epidemic.

The Confederation's press office head, Tomasz Grabarczyk, told PAP that his party had already appealed for Kaczyński's dismissal, as he "hasn't done anything concrete with relation to the competence he has taken on."

Kaczyński became deputy prime minister in early October, nearly five years after his party came to power. Before that, he was a regular MP, but critics say he was the mastermind behind government policy.

Waldemar Andzel, deputy head of the PiS parliamentary caucus, told PAP that the dismissal motion had no chance of success owing to PiS's control over the lower house of parliament.

"Additionally, the motion is groundless as the deputy prime minister does not directly supervise the activity of (uniformed) services, does not supervise police, (but) is responsible for the whole security area," Andzel said.