Jarosław Kaczyński, the leader of the ruling conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party in Poland, has shown that he understands the secret of his own party’s success.
In a recent interview with wPolityce, he told readers that the party’s social justice reforms were not some irresponsible give-away but a return to normality.
“We brought Poland closer to the West,” said Kaczyński, adding that “Germany isn’t such a success because entrepreneurs or lawyers are well off there, as they are in most places.
“Success is when ordinary people such as factory workers, farmers, and clerks feel well off and can afford to go on holiday and have money to spend on entertainment and additional education for their children. That is the direction we are moving in,” explained Kaczyński.
The last eight years have been good for Poland because they have restored dignity and opportunity for millions of ordinary Poles who had been denied both in the first two decades of independence. Law and Justice is therefore exceptional among the former communist countries. There simply is no other party in this region that has been able to help the victims of the economic and political transformation away from communism.
This has built support for PiS, but it has also created enemies for the party. In the West, transforming Poland into a country that looks after its people rather than the interests of corporations has not gone down well.
It has also angered many in Poland. The elites who benefitted from the period of post-communism will never forgive PiS for the fact that it has not only redistributed wealth but also influence and power. This is why they will never ever like the universal child benefit program, which has lifted millions out of hardship, and will always see it as a waste of money.
October’s election will be decisive in many spheres. One of them will be whether the process of transforming Poland into a society that provides opportunities for everyone will be continued. The alternative is the return of post-communist elites with their attitude of climbing the ladder and pulling it up behind them.