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Law_and_Justice

Law and Justice

Law and Justice (Prawo i Sprawiedliwość, PiS) is a Polish political party.

The party was established in 2001, by the Kaczyński twins, Lech, the current President of Poland, and Jarosław, current party president. Most present party members were once associated with the now defunct Solidarity Electoral Action coalition or the Movement for Reconstruction of Poland.

History

The party was created on a wave of popularity gained by 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 March 22, 2001). The AWS itself was created from a diverse array of many small right-wing 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.

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. A coalition of PO and PiS was expected to be the most likely government to form after the election. The putative coalition parties had a falling out, however, related to 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, 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 majority government with the populist Self-Defense of the Republic of Poland and nationalist League of Polish Families, headed by the PiS party leader Jarosław Kaczyński. Association with these parties, on the margins of Polish politics, was affecting severely the reputation of PiS. When accusations of corruption and sexual harassments against the leader of Self Defense surfaced, PiS chose to end the coalition and called for new elections.

In the 2007 general election PiS managed to secure 32.1% of votes. Although an improvement over the results from two years before, the results were nevertheless a defeat for the party, as Civic Platform gathered 41.5% of support. The party won 166 out of 460 seats in the Sejm and 39 seats in the Senate of Poland.

Ideology

International comparison

In terms of European politics, the PiS has resemblances to the Christian Social Union of Bavaria or the Austrian People's Party, although there are differences in economic policy and PiS is further to the right on cultural issues than both these parties. In the European Parliament it is affiliated with the Union for a Europe of Nations group along with some conservative and/or nationalist parties. From an American perspective, PiS would be more comparable to conservative Democrats rather than Republicans, because it combines social conservatism with a moderate, centrist stance on fiscal issues.

Platform

In comparison with the other major party with Solidarity roots, Civic Platform, PiS projects a more traditional image overall. However the policies of both parties take inspiration from the Catholic social teaching.

Economy

The party supports a state-guaranteed minimum social safety net and state intervention in the economy within market economy bounds. During the election campaign it proposed tax decrease to two personal tax rates (18% and 32%) instead of current three (19%, 30% and 40%), 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). However, this has not been implemented. Also: a continuation of privatisation 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 (also unimplemented).

Decommunization

PiS is a strong supporter of lustration (lustracja), a verification system created ostensively 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.

PiS also supports revealing the names of all secret agents from the time of the communist regime.

Crime and corruption

PiS advocates increased criminal penalties. It postulates aggressive anti-corruption measures (including creation of an Anti-Corruption Office, 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.

Constitution, power structures

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.

Defence policy

The party is in favor of strengthening the Polish Army through diminishing bureaucracy and raising military expenditures, especially for modernization of army equipment. PiS plans to introduce a fully professional army and end conscription by 2012. 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 Afganistan and Iraq. Following the election, it declared that Polish soldiers will remain in Iraq for another 12 months.

Foreign affairs

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.

Health care

PiS supports free health care, provided by the state.

Social issues

The party's views on social issues are broadly similar to those of conservative parties in other European countries. It favors strengthening restrictions on abortion, which is already illegal except in extraordinary circumstances. It is also against euthanasia. It opposes same-sex marriages or any other form of legal recognition of homosexual couples. The PiS are highly critical of sex and violence in the media.

PiS promotes itself as a pro-family party. Prior to elections, it promised to build 3 million inexpensive housing units as a way to help young couples get married. Once in government, it pushed through legislations lengthening maternal leaves and offered qualified support to the idea of giving parents a grant for every newly-born child. It favors shutting down large supermarkets on Sundays and holidays, so their workers can spend more time with their families.

While PiS presents itself as a champion of the Catholic Church, its policies do not always align with the Church's teaching. Most notably, the party supports the death penalty. It has also shown some flexibility in such matters as in vitro fertilization and stem cell research, which, like the death penalty, enjoy strong public support.

Attitude to homosexuals

On 21 September 2005, Jarosław Kaczyński said that homosexuals should not be teachers, but that homosexuals would not be persecuted. He also said: "The affirmation of homosexuality will lead to the downfall of civilization. We can't agree to it".

On 22 September 2005, another member of PiS, Adam Bielan, in an interview on TVP, made statements indicating that PiS does not yet have a clear policy on whether or not homosexuals should be accepted in jobs in which there is close contact with children. Gay sources claim, however, that there is a strong anti-homosexual strand in the party's rhetoric.

In June 2006, while the party was in power, the state prosecutor announced an investigation of all gay groups for illegal financing, criminal connections, and pedophilia. This came in response to a May 12 letter from Wojciech Wierzejski, a front-bench member of Parliament for and a vice-president of the League of Polish Families (Roman Giertych, the chairman of the League has been appointed minister of education). The League at that time made part of the government led by Jarosław Kaczyński. A copy of Wierzejski’s letter was attached to the state prosecutor’s order. In addition, the Ministry of Justice (headed by Zbigniew Ziobro) has ordered local prosecution offices to investigate if ‘any crimes of a pedophile nature have been committed by homosexual persons’ in their respective area. It must be noted, however, that no investigation of gay couples was ever started and the whole incident was augmented by gay-friendly mass-media.

Equal opportunity
On 4 November 2005, the PiS-led government closed down the Office of Government Representative for the Equal Status of Women and Men (Biuro pełnomocnika rządu ds. równego statusu kobiet i mężczyzn), replacing it with the newly created Department of Women, Family and Counteracting Discrimination of the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy (Departament Kobiet, Rodziny i Przeciwdziałania Dyskryminacji MPiPS).

Leadership

Chairman: Lech Kaczyński (2001–2003), Jarosław Kaczyński (2003–...)

References

See also

External links

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