Opposition slams ruling party's congress

PiS held its congress in Marki, near Warsaw, on Saturday, with its leader, Jarosław Kaczyński, delivering a keynote speech. Radek Pietruszka/PAP

Polish opposition politicians have criticised ideas presented at a congress of the ruling party, the conservative Law and Justice (PiS), saying it was a failed attempt to revive enthusiasm among the party's "fat cats."

PiS held its congress in Marki, near Warsaw, on Saturday, with its leader, Jarosław Kaczyński, delivering a keynote speech. Kaczyński criticised the previous governments and praised the achievements of his party over the past six-and-a-half years, mobilising party members to make more efforts to win public support.

Jan Grabiec, spokesman for the main opposition party, the centrist Civic Platform (PO), said the congress was "an attempt to revive" party structures and "to revive faith in the government."

He also said the meeting lacked specific ideas and was reduced to presenting numbers "in a bid to convince Poles that the government is doing things in the best possible way in the world and, therefore, Poles are obliged to vote for the government, a trick that has never worked in politics."

Grabiec also accused Kaczyński of not presenting any solution to Poland's pressing problems, which include high prices, rising mortgage payments and low investment levels. He said the congress did not provide any answers on how to improve Poland's security in the context of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Robert Biedroń, a co-leader of The New Left, said the convention was about "how there is only one party and that the party should be loved."

The head of the Left caucus , Krzysztof Gawkowski, said that "the PiS convention was a meeting of 'fat cats' who fed on the state, who don't see Poland's problems and are dreaming of holding on to power to continue stealing."

Marek Sawicki, an MP with the pro-agrarian Polish People's Party (PSL), told PAP that Kaczynski's call to his party members to start road trips to Poland's regions and talk to voters was a good idea.

"It's good that the (PiS) leader wants to leave his Zoliborz (a district of Warsaw - PAP) villa for a moment and be among people, perhaps he'll learn something interesting," Sawicki said.

Asked whether such mobilisation of party members could signal an early election, Sawicki said that Kaczynski "from time to time shakes up his bag of rats so that they can bite one another for a bit and so that they don't fall asleep in this bag."

Sawicki was alluding to some divisions within the ruling camp, notably the opposition of Zbigniew Ziobro, leader of the small ally Solidary Poland, to any concessions towards the EU.

But Joachim Brudziński, a PiS MEP, tweeted that Kaczynski's address was "delivered with facts and erudition."

Poland's parliamentary elections are scheduled for the autumn of 2023.