Andrzej Zbigniew Lepper [ˈandʐɛj ˈzbʲiɡɲɛf ˈlɛppɛr] (listen) (13 June 1954 – 5 August 2011) was a Polish politician who was the leader of Samoobrona RP (Self-Defense of the Republic of Poland) political party.
|Deputy Prime Minister of Poland|
5 May 2006 – 22 September 2006
|Prime Minister||Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz|
|Preceded by||Zyta Gilowska|
|Succeeded by||Ludwik Dorn|
16 October 2006 – 9 July 2007
|Prime Minister||Jarosław Kaczyński|
|Preceded by||Ludwik Dorn|
|Succeeded by||Przemysław Gosiewski|
|Minister of Agriculture|
5 May 2006 – 9 July 2007
|Prime Minister||Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz|
|Preceded by||Krzysztof Jurgiel|
|Succeeded by||Wojciech Mojzesowicz|
|Deputy Marshal of the Sejm|
19 October 2001 – 5 May 2006
|Preceded by||Marek Borowski|
|Succeeded by||Genowefa Wiśniowska|
Andrzej Zbigniew Lepper
13 June 1954
|Died||5 August 2011 (aged 57)|
|Political party||Samoobrona RP|
He was the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development between 5 May 2006 and 22 September 2006, and again from 16 October 2006 to 9 July 2007, in the cabinet of Jarosław Kaczyński. Lepper's civil profession prior to entering politics was farming in the village of Zielnowo, Pomerania. He was a candidate in the Polish presidential election in 1995, 2000, 2005 and 2010.
Lepper was born in Stowięcino, a tiny hamlet of roughly 200 people, which has suffered greatly since Poland's transformation to a market-based economy because of its previous reliance on the socialist agricultural system.
A farmer by trade, he did not complete his secondary education at the State Agricultural Technical School in Sypniewo and had no formal higher education. Lepper and his wife Irena had three children. During the period of economic transformation his farm fell into debt and he was on the verge of bankruptcy. He received several "doctor honoris causa" titles from the University of Kiev (Ukraine).
From 1977-80 he was a member of PZPR Polish United Workers' Party, Poland's communist party. In 1992 Lepper formed a new political party, an organisation of struggling farmers like himself, naming it "Samoobrona" (Self defence) (SO). His first task was to displace and eliminate his rival Stanislaw Tyminski as a competitor. For this purpose, Lepper adopted much of Tyminski's political program as his own. Lepper organized anti-government demonstrations and other actions, most significantly against the Suchocka and Buzek governments, against what he saw as growing injustice, especially against farmers.
As party president he challenged Aleksander Kwaśniewski in the 1995 presidential election (1.3% votes). In the 2000, SO organized a campaign of blocking major roads in order to bring media attention to the hard-pressed situation of Polish agriculture. Lepper won 3.05% votes in the 2000 presidential election. In the 2001 parliamentary election, Lepper's party managed to enter the lower chamber of the Polish Parliament (Sejm) and formed an important fraction of it. Lepper was elected from Koszalin constituency.
Lepper's party received 11.4% of the vote and 56 seats in the September 2005 parliamentary election, making it the 3rd biggest party in the Sejm. Lepper stood in the October 2005 presidential election as his party's candidate and received 15% of the vote, the third highest result.
Lepper entered his party into a ruling coalition with the dominant PIS party in May 2006, taking on the position of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture. Subsequently, he accused his allies of spying on him and working to harm Samoobrona. Following several conflicts within the alliance, Prime Minister Jarosław Kaczyński asked his brother President Lech Kaczyński to sack Lepper from the Cabinet in September 2006. Kaczyński re-invited Lepper back to his cabinet several weeks later on 16 October 2006.
Political style and viewsEdit
Samoobrona ("SO") and Lepper successfully tapped into the disillusion felt by millions of poor citizens who have not benefited from Poland's entry into the European Union. Many SO voters live in small towns and villages with high unemployment rates, and therefore believe that they have lost out in the transition to the free market economy after 1989. However, Lepper was often criticized for not acknowledging the economic growth Poland has experienced since then.
Using strongly populist messages and committing acts of civil disobedience, he managed to gain nationwide publicity and a strong following in the countryside, where he was regarded as a common man. He also protested against the selling of Polish land to foreigners. Lepper and SO opposed Poland joining the European Union, but stopped short of running a fully fledged "no" campaign, on account of the popular predisposition of the Polish population towards EU membership.
Lepper's anti-EU stance was based in part on nationalism, but also on the presumed detrimental economic effect that accession would have on Polish agriculture. Lepper remained a Eurosceptic, but later toned down his position since. During his tenure as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Agriculture, Lepper worked hard for Polish agriculture within the European structures and on his departure was described by Union officials as "pragmatic" and "professional".
Andrzej Lepper was one of the few high-profile politicians that consistently opposed Poland's involvement in American global military operations. He was involved in promoting close relations with the country's eastern neighbours – Ukraine, Russia and Belarus.
Some of his many famous quotes are that "It is impossible to rape a prostitute", or "I see myself as a positive dictator". Lepper himself appeared to be a restless man, not easily placated and not inclined to settle down as an office holder, as his participation in Kaczyński's government showed. With the votes of the left-wing majority in the Sejm, in 2001 he was elected as Vice-Speaker of Sejm (Wicemarszałek Sejmu), but after violating time constraints in debates he was dismissed. Among Lepper and SO's undertakings in parliament were such incidents as the use of their own loudspeakers in the Sejm and claims that Robert Smoktunowicz of the liberal Civic Platform (Platforma Obywatelska) engaged in the precious-stone trade doing business with the Afghan Taliban.
Andrzej Lepper was charged with criminal offenses, including assault, blocking roads and dumping grain on railroad tracks in the course of anti-government demonstrations (The New York Times, 2006).
In May 2001 Lepper was sentenced to sixteen months in prison. In May 2006 Polish students protested against the coalition government and also mocked Lepper's recent criminal conviction for slander, chanting "Lepper to prison".
As of 2007 Lepper faced criminal charges for slander and levelling corruption accusations against ministers and members of the parliament (Financial Times, 2002).
In December 2006 a female party member claimed that Lepper and party deputy Stanisław Łyżwiński had demanded sexual favours in exchange for a job in a regional SO party office. After the publication of these claims in the Gazeta Wyborcza, several other women came forward with similar accusations. Poland's chief prosecutor Janusz Kaczmarek later launched an investigation into the abuse allegations against both men. In February 2010 Andrzej Lepper was sentenced to two years and three months in jail after being found guilty of demanding and accepting sexual favours from female members of his SO party. The district court in central Poland also sentenced former SO party deputy Stanislaw Lyzwinski to five years for rape and taking sexual advantage of female members of his party. Lepper said that the entire case against him was "imagined", and that he would appeal the decision.
The Interregional Academy of Personnel Management in Kiev, a private institution which actively promotes anti-Semitism  awarded Lepper with two honorary doctorates and an honorary professorship. The Anti-Defamation League strongly condemned Lepper for accepting these titles.
2007 political developmentsEdit
On 9 July 2007, Prime Minister Kaczyński dismissed Lepper from the government, which Kaczyński said was due to suspicions that Lepper was involved in corruption. On 10 July, Lepper said that Samoobrona would withdraw from the ruling coalition, but later on the same day said that the party would remain in the coalition conditionally. Lepper claimed to have been the victim of a politically motivated 'sting' operation, initiated by Prime Minister Kaczynski and PiS, and he demanded that a parliamentary inquiry be conducted to investigate the legality and motivation of the CBA operation mounted against him. This was one of the conditions put to PiS in return for SO remaining within the coalition.
On 16 July 2007, Lepper, together with Roman Giertych, chairman of another junior coalition partner League of Polish Families, announced a merger of their two parties, to be called League and Self-Defense (LiS). On August 5, the party quit the ruling coalition, leaving it without a majority.
The party suffered a huge voter backlash, thereby failing to cross the 5% electoral threshold for elections to the Sejm. Consequently, it lost all its seats. He was a candidate in the 2010 Polish presidential election, but received just 1.28% of votes and so did not proceed into the second round.
Lepper was found dead in his Warsaw office on 5 August 2011. Police said that he likely committed suicide. The public prosecutor's office conducted a year-long investigation to determine possible motives for his suicide as well. Lepper hanged himself from a ceiling hook for a boxing punch bag. After his autopsy, foul play was ruled out. The investigation ended in late 2012. It was determined that Lepper suffered from a crushing depression due to his enormous debts on all fronts including at his farm, his spectacular political defeat and the sex scandals.
- Araloff, Simon (3 October 2005). "Poland's Elections: Andrzej Zbigniew Lepper – Peasantry's Iron Fist". Axis Information and Analysis. Archived from the original on 10 March 2007. Retrieved 23 February 2007.
- Jean Blondel, Jean-Louis Thiebault (2009). Political Leadership, Parties and Citizens: The personalisation of leadership. The career of Andrzej Lepper: from local protest leader to Deputy Prime Minister. Routledge. pp. 316–318. ISBN 1135179212.CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link)
- Jaroslaw Adamowski. "Andrzej Lepper obituary". Former Polish deputy premier tainted by sleaze and graft claims. The Guardian.
Self-Defense was ousted from the cabinet, over allegations that Lepper had accepted bribes for altering the legal status of farm land to residential land. However, an investigation by the anti-corruption bureau failed to produce any evidence for these claims.
- Sexual harassment allegations plague Poland's deputy PM. The Raw Story; retrieved 7 September 2013.
- Seite 2 von 2|polen: Ich, der Diktator|ZEIT ONLINE, Zeit.de (17 June 2004); retrieved 7 September 2013.
- Gelb, Leslie H. (30 August 2013) The New York Times - Breaking News, World News & Multimedia, International Herald Tribune; retrieved 7 September 2013.
- Polish Students March in Warsaw, Protest Coalition Government Archived 2009-06-26 at the Wayback Machine, bloomberg.com; accessed 13 June 2016.
- The Institute for Ethics and Economic Policy (IEEP) at Fordham University, Fordham.edu; retrieved 7 September 2013.
- Kącki, Marcin (4 December 2006). "Praca za seks w Samoobronie" (in Polish). Gazeta Wyborcza. Archived from the original on 23 February 2007. Retrieved 23 February 2007.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-09-13. Retrieved 2010-02-11.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
- Ex-deputy PM jailed for sex crimes, AFP (The Australian reprint), 12 Feb 2010
- Professorship for Lepper Archived March 17, 2007, at the Wayback Machine Science and Scholarship in Poland Information Service; retrieved 23 February 2007.
- "Lepper odebrał w Moskwie doktorat honoris causa" (in Polish). Gazeta Wyborcza. 12 February 2007. Archived from the original on 21 February 2007. Retrieved 23 February 2007.
- ADL Condemns Polish Deputy PM for Accepting Honor from Anti-Semitic University. Anti-Defamation League; retrieved 23 February 2007.
- Judy Dempsey, "Polish leader considers early elections", International Herald Tribune, 10 July 2007.
- Dorota Bartyzel and Marta Waldoch, "Polish Self Defense Party Quits Coalition; Early Elections Loom" Archived 2007-09-30 at the Wayback Machine, Bloomberg.com, 5 August 2007.
- BBC News – Poland's Andrzej Lepper dead
- Marcin Kącki (19 December 2012). "Prokuratura ustaliła, dlaczego Andrzej Lepper popełnił samobójstwo (The public prosecutor's office determined suicide motives)". Kraj (in Polish). Gazeta Wyborcza. Retrieved 22 June 2013.
- ‹See Tfd›(in Polish) Information about Andrzej Lepper on the Sejm website. Archived from the original.
- Official SO website
| Deputy Prime Minister of Poland
| Minister of Agriculture
| Deputy Prime Minister of Poland
|Party political offices|
| Leader of Self-Defence of the Republic of Poland