Law and Justice
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Law and Justice (Polish: Prawo i Sprawiedliwość; listen (help·info); PiS) is a national-conservative, Christian democratic political party in Poland. With 237 seats in the Sejm and 66 in the Senate, it is currently the largest party in the Polish parliament.
|Founded||13 June 2001|
|Youth wing||Law and Justice Youth Forum|
|National affiliation||United Right|
|European affiliation||Alliance of Conservatives and Reformists in Europe|
|European Parliament group||European Conservatives and Reformists|
|Colours||Navy blue Red|
237 / 460
63 / 100
15 / 51
254 / 552
The party was founded in 2001 by the Kaczyński twins, Lech and Jarosław. It was formed from part of the Solidarity Electoral Action (AWS), with the Christian democratic Centre Agreement forming the new party's core. The party won the 2005 election, while Lech Kaczyński won the presidency. Jarosław served as Prime Minister, before calling elections in 2007, in which the party came in second to Civic Platform (PO). Several leading members, including sitting president Lech Kaczyński, died in a plane crash in 2010.
The party programme is dominated by the Kaczyńskis' conservative and law and order agenda. It has embraced economic interventionism, while maintaining a socially conservative stance that in 2005 moved towards the Catholic Church; the party's Catholic-nationalist wing split off in 2011 to form Solidary Poland. The party is solidarist and mildly Eurosceptic, and shares similar political tactics with Hungary's Fidesz but with anti-Russian stances.
PiS is a member of the Alliance of Conservatives and Reformists in Europe (ACRE) European political party. The current sixteen PiS MEPs sit, as well as three other people elected from the PiS register, in the European Conservatives and Reformists group in the European Parliament.
The party was created on a wave of popularity gained by late president of Poland Lech Kaczyński while heading the Polish Ministry of Justice (June 2000 to July 2001) in the AWS-led government, although local committees began appearing from 22 March 2001. The AWS itself was created from a diverse array of many small political parties.
In the 2001 general election PiS gained 44 (of 460) seats in the lower chamber of the Polish Parliament (Sejm) with 9.5% of votes. In 2002, Lech Kaczyński was elected mayor of Warsaw. He handed the party leadership to his twin brother in 2003.
In coalition government: 2005–2007Edit
In the 2005 general election, PiS took first place with 27.0% of votes, which gave it 155 out of 460 seats in the Sejm and 49 out of 100 seats in the Senate. It was almost universally expected that the two largest parties, PiS and Civic Platform (PO), would form a coalition government. The putative coalition parties had a falling out, however, related to a fierce contest for the Polish presidency. In the end, Lech Kaczyński won the second round of the presidential election on 23 October 2005 with 54.0% of the vote, ahead of Donald Tusk, the PO candidate.
After the 2005 elections, Jarosław should have become Prime Minister. However, in order to improve his brother's chances of winning the presidential election (the first round of which was scheduled two weeks after the parliamentary election), PiS formed a minority government headed by Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz as prime minister, an arrangement that eventually turned out to be unworkable. In July 2006 PiS formed a right-wing coalition government with the agrarian populist Self-Defense of the Republic of Poland and nationalist League of Polish Families, headed by Jarosław Kaczyński. Association with these parties, on the margins of Polish politics, severely affected the reputation of PiS. When accusations of corruption and sexual harassment against Andrzej Lepper, the leader of Self Defense, surfaced, PiS chose to end the coalition and called for new elections.
In opposition: 2007–2015Edit
In the 2007 general election PiS managed to secure 32.1% of votes. Although an improvement over its showing from 2005, the results were nevertheless a defeat for the party, as Civic Platform (PO) gathered 41.5%. The party won 166 out of 460 seats in the Sejm and 39 seats in Poland's Senate.
On 10 April 2010, its former leader Lech Kaczyński died in the 2010 Polish Air Force Tu-154 crash. Jarosław Kaczyński becomes the sole leader of the party. He was the presidential candidate in the 2010 elections, and lost again in the 2011 general election.
In majority government: 2015–presentEdit
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The party won the 2015 parliamentary election, this time with an outright majority—something no Polish party had done since the fall of Communism. In the normal course of events, this should have made Jarosław Kaczyński prime minister for a second time. However, Beata Szydło, perceived as being somewhat more moderate than Kaczyński, had been tapped as PiS' candidate for prime minister.
The Law and Justice government has been accused of posing a threat to the Polish liberal democratic system by majority of opposition groups. PiS' 2015 victory prompted creation of a cross-party opposition movement, the Committee for the Defence of Democracy (KOD). Law and Justice has supported controversial reforms carried out by the Hungarian Fidesz party, with Jarosław Kaczyński declaring in 2011 that "a day will come when we have a Budapest in Warsaw". Proposed 2017 judicial reforms, which according to the party were meant to improve efficiency of the justice system, sparked protest as they were seen as undermining judicial independence. As of December 2017, the draft bill is being amended following a veto from President Andrzej Duda.
In January 2010, a breakaway faction led by Jerzy Polaczek split from the party to form Poland Plus. Its seven members of the Sejm came from the centrist, economically liberal wing of the party. On 24 September 2010, the group was disbanded, with most of its Sejm members, including Polaczek, returning to Law and Justice.
On 16 November 2010, MPs Joanna Kluzik-Rostkowska, Elżbieta Jakubiak and Paweł Poncyljusz, and MEPs Adam Bielan and Michał Kamiński formed a new political group, Poland Comes First (Polska jest Najważniejsza). Kamiński said that the Law and Justice party had been taken over by far-right extremists. The breakaway party formed following dissatisfaction with the direction and leadership of Kaczyński.
On 4 November 2011, MEPs Zbigniew Ziobro, Jacek Kurski, and Tadeusz Cymański were ejected from the party, after Ziobro urged the party to split further into two separate parties – centrist and nationalist – with the three representing the nationalist faction. Ziobro's supporters, most of whom on the right-wing of the party, formed a new group in Parliament called Solidary Poland, leading to their expulsion, too. United Poland was formed as a formally separate party in March 2012, but hasn't threatened Law and Justice in opinion polls.
Base of supportEdit
Like Civic Platform, but unlike the fringe parties to the right, Law and Justice originated from the secular, anti-communist Solidarity trade union (which is a major cleavage in Polish politics). Solidarity's leadership wanted to back Law and Justice in 2005, but was held back by the union's last experience of party politics, in backing Solidarity Electoral Action.
Today, the party enjoys great support among working class constituencies and union members. Groups that vote for the party are miners, farmers, shopkeepers, unskilled workers, unemployed and pensioners. With its left-wing approach toward economics, the party attracts these voters who didn't benefit from economic liberalisation and European integration  and their economic situation didn't improve significantly since 1989. The strongest voting block are older, religious people who value the conservative principles the party represents and patriotism. PiS voters are usually located in rural areas and small towns. The strongest region is southern-eastern part of the country. People without university degree prefer the party more than more educated ones. From sometime, younger voters support PiS more than in the previous years.
Regionally, it has more support in regions of Poland that were historically part of western Galicia-Lodomeria and Congress Poland. Since 2015, the borders of support are not as clear as before and party enjoys support in western parts of country, especially these deprived ones. Large cities in all regions are more likely to vote for more liberal party like PO or .N. Still PiS receives good support from poor and working class areas in large cities.
Based on this voter profile, Law and Justice form the core of the conservative post-Solidarity bloc, along with the League of Polish Families and Solidarity Electoral Action, as opposed to liberal conservative post-Solidarity bloc of Civic Platform. The most prominent feature of PiS voters was their emphasis on decommunisation.
Initially the party was broadly pro-market, although less so than the Civic Platform. It has adopted the social market economy rhetoric similar to that of western European Christian democratic parties. In the 2005 election, the party shifted to the protectionist left on economics. As Prime Minister, Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz was more economically liberal than the Kaczyńskis, advocating a position closer to Civic Platform. However, unlike Civic Platform, whose emphasis is the economy, Law and Justice's focus during their first term in power was fighting corruption.
On foreign policy, PiS is Atlanticist and less supportive of European integration than Civic Platform. The party is soft eurosceptic, and opposes a federal Europe. In its campaigns, it emphasises that the European Union should 'benefit Poland and not the other way around'. It is a member of the anti-federalist Alliance of European Conservatives and Reformists, having previously been a part of the Alliance for Europe of the Nations and, before that, the European People's Party.
The party supports a state-guaranteed minimum social safety net and state intervention in the economy within market economy bounds. During the 2015 election campaign it proposed tax decrease to two personal tax rates (18% and 32%) and tax rebates related to the number of children in a family, as well as a reduction of the VAT rate (while keeping a variation between individual types of VAT rates). 18% and 32% tax rates were eventually implemented. Also: a continuation of privatization with the exclusion of several dozen state companies deemed to be of strategic importance for the country. PiS opposes cutting social welfare spending, and also proposed the introduction of a system of state-guaranteed housing loans. PiS supports state provided universal health care.
National political structuresEdit
PiS has presented a project for constitutional reform including, among others: allowing the president the right to pass laws by decree (when prompted to do so by the Cabinet), a reduction of the number of members of the Sejm and Senat, and removal of constitutional bodies overseeing the media and monetary policy. PiS advocates increased criminal penalties. It postulates aggressive anti-corruption measures (including creation of an Anti-Corruption Bureau (CBA), open disclosure of the assets of politicians and important public servants), as well as broad and various measures to smooth the working of public institutions.
PiS is a strong supporter of lustration (lustracja), a verification system created ostensibly to combat the influence of the Communist era security apparatus in Polish society. While current lustration laws require the verification of those who serve in public offices, PiS wants to expand the process to include university professors, lawyers, journalists, managers of large companies, and others performing "public functions". Those found to have collaborated with the security service, according to the party, should be forbidden to practice in their professions.
Diplomacy and defenseEdit
The party is in favour of strengthening the Polish Army through diminishing bureaucracy and raising military expenditures, especially for modernization of army equipment. PiS planned to introduce a fully professional army and end conscription by 2012 (in August 2008, compulsory military service was abolished in Poland). It is also in favor of participation of Poland in foreign military missions led by the United Nations, NATO and United States, in countries like Afghanistan and Iraq.
The party supports integration with the European Union on terms beneficial for Poland. It supports economic integration and tightening the cooperation in areas of energetic security and military, but is skeptical about closer political integration. It is against formation of European superstate or federation. PiS is in favor of strong political and military alliance of Poland with the United States.
In the European Parliament it is a member of the European Conservatives and Reformists, a group founded in 2009 to challenge the prevailing pro-federalist ethos of the European Parliament and address the perceived democratic deficit existing at a European level.
The party's views on social issues are much more traditionalist than those of social conservative parties in other European countries.
The party strongly promotes itself as a pro-family party and encourage married couples to have more children. Prior to 2005 elections, it promised to build 3 million inexpensive housing units as a way to help young couples start a family. Once in government, it passed legislation lengthening parental leaves.
In 2017, the PiS government commenced the so-called "500+" programme under which all parents residing in Poland receive an unconditional monthly payment of 500 PLN for each second and subsequent child (the 500 PLN support for the first child being linked to income). It also revived the idea of a housing programme based on state-supported construction of inexpensive housing units.
In 2017 also the party's MPs passed a law that bans most retail trade on Sundays so that workers can spend more time with their families.
Even as Poland's abortion laws are among the most restrictive in the European Union, PiS additionally opposes abortion resulting from foetal defects which is currently allowed until specific foetal age.
Also in April 2018, parents of disabled adults who required long-term care protested in Sejm over what they considered inadequate state support, in particular, the reduction of support once the child turns 18. As a result, the monthly disability benefit for adults was raised by approx. 15 percent to PLN 1,000 (approx. EUR 240) and certain non-cash benefits were instituted, although protesters' demands of an additional monthly cash benefit were rejected.
The party opposes granting additional rights to homosexual people beyond what is afforded by current legislation. In particular, it opposes same-sex marriages or any other form of legal recognition of same-sex couples.
On 21 September 2005, Jarosław Kaczyński said that "homosexuals should not be isolated, however they should not be school teachers for example. Active homosexuals surely not, in any case", but that homosexuals "should not be discriminated otherwise". He has also stated, "The affirmation of homosexuality will lead to the downfall of civilization. We can't agree to it". Lech Kaczynski, while mayor of Warsaw, refused authorization for a gay pride march; declaring that it would be obscene and offensive to other people's religious beliefs. A Warsaw court later ruled that Kaczynski's actions were illegal. Kaczyński was quoted as saying, "I am not willing to meet perverts."
Despite being labeled by many former Western Bloc States as a "nationalist" party, PiS' leadership constantly criticizes being offered such label. During the 2008 Polish Independence Day celebrations, Lech Kaczyński said in his speech during the visit to the city of Elbląg that "the state is a great value, and attachment to the state, to one's fatherland, we call patriotism - beware of the word nationalism, as nationalism is evil!" On the same day during the celebrations in Warsaw, L. Kaczyński again stated: "patriotism doesn't equal nationalism." In 2011, Jarosław Kaczyński criticized pre-war Polish nationalism for "its intellectual, political and moral failure" by emphasising that the movement "did not know how to deal with and solve the problems of Polish minorities." Both Kaczyńskis twins look up for inspirations to the pre-war Sanacja movement with its leader Józef Piłsudski, in contrast to the nationalist Endecja that was led by Piłsudski's political archrival, Roman Dmowski. In February 2016, politician Paweł Kowal called Jarosław Kaczyński a "centre-right politician" who "just like Piłsudski before the war, he stopped the raise of nationalism in Poland at the time when such ideology clearly gains politically in Western Europe." Polish far-right organizations and parties such as National Revival of Poland, National Movement and Autonomous Nationalists regularly criticize PiS' relative ideological moderation and its politicians for "monopolizing" official political scene by playing on the popular patriotic and religious feelings.
Refugee/economic migrant policiesEdit
Some PiS politicians have also made anti-migration and anti-Islam comments when discussing the European migrant crisis; in 2015, Jarosław Kaczyński stated that Poland "can't" accept any refugees because "they could spread infectious diseases." In 2017, the first Deputy Minister of Justice Patryk Jaki stated that "stopping Islamization is his Westerplatte". In 2017, Interior minister of Poland Mariusz Błaszczak stated that he would like to be like "Charles the Hammer who stopped the Muslim invasion of Europe in VIII century". In 2017, vice-marshal of the Sejm Joachim Brudziński stated during the pro-party rally in Siedlce; "if not for us (PiS), they (Muslims) would have built mosques in here (Poland)."
|Election year||Leader||# of
overall seats won
|2001||Lech Kaczyński||1,236,787||9.5 (#4)||
44 / 460
|2005||Jarosław Kaczyński||3,185,714||27.0 (#1)||
155 / 460
|2007||Jarosław Kaczyński||5,183,477||32.1 (#2)||
166 / 460
|2011||Jarosław Kaczyński||4,295,016||29.9 (#2)||
157 / 460
|2015||Beata Szydło||5,711,687||37.6 (#1)||
235 / 460*
*Only 217 of those were actually from the party. 9 of the elected were members of Solidarity for Poland, 8 were members of Poland Together and Jan Klawiter was a member of Right Wing of the Republic. Under an agreement between the two parties he is an independent in the Sejm (not affiliated to any parliamentary faction).
|Election year||# of
overall seats won
0 / 100
|As part of the Senate 2001 coalition, which won 15 seats.|
49 / 100
39 / 100
31 / 100
61 / 100
|Election year||# of
overall seats won
7 / 54
15 / 50
19 / 51*
*Currently 16: Zdzisław Krasnodębski is elected from the PiS register, but not a member of the party, Mirosław Piotrowski left PiS (08.10.2014), Marek Jurek is a member of Right Wing of the Republic.
|Election year||Candidate||1st round||2nd round|
|# of overall votes||% of overall vote||# of overall votes||% of overall vote|
|2005||Lech Kaczyński||4,947,927||33.1 (#2)||8,257,468||54.0 (#1)|
|2010||Jarosław Kaczyński||6,128,255||36.5 (#2)||7,919,134||47.0 (#2)|
|2015||Andrzej Duda||5,179,092||34.8 (#1)||8,719,281||51.5 (#1)|
|Election year||% of
overall seats won
79 / 561
|In coalition with Civic Platform.|
170 / 561
141 / 561
171 / 555
254 / 552
Presidents of the Republic of Poland from PiSEdit
|Lech Kaczyński||23 December 2005||10 April 2010 (died in plane crash)|
|Andrzej Duda||6 August 2015||incumbent|
Prime Ministers of the Republic of Poland from PiSEdit
|Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz||31 October 2005||14 July 2006|
|Jarosław Kaczyński||14 July 2006||16 November 2007|
|Beata Szydło||16 November 2015||11 December 2017|
|Mateusz Morawiecki||11 December 2017||incumbent|
- Committee for the Defence of Democracy
- Citizens of Poland (movement)
- Fidesz (Hungary)
- List of Law and Justice politicians
- Polish constitutional crisis, 2015
- Polish nationalism
- 2010 Polish Air Force Tu-154 crash
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