Poland’s Kaczynski calls EU democracy inquiry ‘an absolute comedy’

WARSAW: The head of Poland’s ruling party mocked an EU inquiry into the state of Polish democracy as “an absolute comedy” and brushed off accusations his country was veering into authoritarianism.
Jaroslaw Kaczynski, (pictured) seen as the country’s most powerful figure despite holding no government post, denied that curbs on the media and changes to the constitutional court were putting democracy at risk in the EU’s biggest former communist state.
“Let them launch it,” he said of the European Commission’s decision this year to open an inquiry into the rule of law in Poland. The EU executive on Wednesday gave Warsaw two months to respond but signalled no potential consequences.
In theory Poland could be stripped of its EU voting rights if all other 27 member states saw fit, but that seems unlikely as Hungary, which also has a right-wing government that bristles against interference by Brussels, has said it would veto such a move.
“It’s an absolute comedy, because there is nothing going on in Poland that contravenes the rule of law,” Kaczynski said in an interview conducted on Monday embargoed for publication until Wednesday.
His Law and Justice (PiS) party is engaged in a standoff with opposition parties that have been occupying parliament’s debating chamber for days in a protest about restrictions on media access, a protest he called illegal.
Of the reforms to the constitutional court, which critics say will compromise the judiciary’s independence, Kaczynski said they were needed to ensure there are no legal blocks on government policies aimed at creating a fairer economy.
Questions over his party’s efforts to exert more control over the economy and state institutions led S&P’s to downgrade Poland’s credit rating in January and have hit investor sentiment.
But Kaczynski said he would be willing to see some slowdown in economic growth if that was the price of pushing through his vision of Poland.
“We can pay the price, because previous economic policy had cost us tens of billions of zlotys a year,” he said.
“In short, we are seeing a revolt against the fact that we are simply taking away the money that the elites had looted and divided up somehow,” he said. “It’s a revolt, and in the long-term it is worth it, even if the current pace of economic growth declines. We are talking about 1 per cent.”
Poland was the only EU member state to avoid recession after the 2008 global economic crisis, but many Poles feel angry over stagnating living standards nearly three decades after the collapse of communism. — Reuters