PM dismisses populist tag and stands up for Govt. policies

Poland's Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki PAP/EPA

PM Morawiecki says that by cracking down on corruption the EU could ease some of the “populist-related tensions” that now plague it.

Mateusz Morawiecki, the Polish prime minister, has dismissed his government’s populist tag, saying it is only “meeting the expectations of our citizens”.

Since coming to power in 2015 the Law and Justice government has faced frequent accusations that it is banging the populist drum and fostering a “them-and-us” mentality both in domestic and international politics.

But in a brief interview with the news magazine Politico, Mr Morawiecki rejected the accusation.

“Is meeting the expectations of our citizens truly populist?” he told the magazine. “Or maybe it is the essence of democracy.”

The 50-year-old politician, a former finance minister, was made prime minister in December by Jarosław Kaczyński, the Law and Justice leader. 

At the time Mr Morawiecki’s promotion was seen as a freshening of the government, and as an attempt to improve Poland’s image abroad by using the skills of the English-speaking politician on the international stage.

Since his promotion the prime minister and his government has been under almost constant attack from abroad owing to bitter and continuing conflicts with the EU, and the introduction of a law on Poland’s relationship with the Holocaust, which prompted international fury and accusations that the government was trying to whitewash Polish history.

Despite the attacks the Polish prime minister remains strident.

In the interview with Politico he rounded on international companies that had created “VAT mafias” by exploiting lax tax laws and tax havens, and claimed that by cracking down on corruption the EU could ease some of the “populist-related tensions” that now plague it.

He also said Poland was willing to pay more into funds supporting North African states and Syria, which, the government hopes, will reduce the flow of migrants coming to Europe.