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Law and Justice

Law and Justice
Leader Jarosław Kaczyński
Founded 13 June 2001
Headquarters ul. Nowogrodzka 84/86 02-018 Warsaw
Membership  (30 Nov 2012) 21,766 [1]
Ideology National clericalism[2]
National conservatism[3][4]
Social conservatism[4]
Soft euroscepticism[9][10]
Political position Centre-right[11][12][13] to Right-wing[14][15][16][17]
International affiliation None
European affiliation Alliance of European Conservatives and Reformists
European Parliament group European Conservatives and Reformists
Colours Blue, red[18]
135 / 460
31 / 100
European Parliament
18 / 51
Politics of Poland
Political parties

Law and Justice (Polish:    ), abbreviated to PiS, is a national-conservative political party in Poland. With 138 seats in the Sejm and 30 in the Senate, it is the second-largest party in the Polish parliament.

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.[19] 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 second to Civic Platform. Several leading members, including Lech Kaczyński, died in a plane crash in 2010.

The party programme is dominated by the Kaczyński's anti-corruption, conservative, law and order agenda.[19] It has embraced economic interventionism, while maintaining a socially conservative stance that moved in 2005 towards the Catholic Church;[19] the party's Catholic-nationalist wing split off in 2011 to form United Poland. The party is mildly eurosceptic; PiS is a member of the Alliance of European Conservatives and Reformists affiliation and its nineteen members of the European Parliament sit in the European Conservatives and Reformists group where it co-operates with parties like the Conservative Party of the United Kingdom, Alternative for Germany and the Finns Party from Finland.



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 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 government

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 Civic Platform (PO) and PiS was almost universally expected to be the most likely government to form after the election.[19] 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 presidency, 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 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 the Andrzej Lepper, the leader of Self Defense, surfaced, PiS chose to end the coalition and called for new elections.

In opposition

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 (PO) gathered 41.5% of support. 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.


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, Elzbieta Jakubiak and Pawel Poncyljusz, and MEPs Adam Bielan and Michał Kamiński formed a new political group, Poland Comes First (Polska jest Najważniejsza).[20] 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.[21]

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.[22] Ziobro's supporters, most of whom on the right-wing of the party, formed a new group in Parliament called United Poland,[23] leading to their expulsion, too.[24] United Poland was formed as a formally separate party in March 2012, but hasn't threatened Law and Justice in opinion polls.[25]


Initially the party was broadly pro-market, although less so than the Civic Platform.[8] It has adopted the social market economy rhetoric of western European Christian democratic parties.[19] In the 2005 election, the party shifted to the protectionist left on economics.[8] As Prime Minister, Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz was more economically liberal than the Kaczyńskis, advocating a position closer to Civic Platform.[26] However, unlike Civic Platform, whose emphasis is the economy, Law and Justice's focus is fighting corruption.[8]

On foreign policy, PiS is Atlanticist and less supportive of European integration than Civic Platform.[8] The party is soft eurosceptic,[9][10] and opposes a federal Europe. In its campaigns, it emphasises that the European Union should '[serve] Poland and not the other way around'.[27] 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.[19][28]

Political support

Law and Justice's support is concentrated in the east of the country. Areas voting for Jarosław Kaczyński in 2010 are shaded blue above.

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).[29] 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.[19]

The party appeals to the 'disenfranchised' constituency that has not benefited from economic liberalisation and European integration.[8]

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.[30] The most prominent feature of PiS voters was their emphasis on decommunisation.[31]



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%) 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 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 ).


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 favour 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 (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. Following the election, it declared that Polish soldiers would 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.

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 democratic deficit existing at a European level.

Health care

PiS supports state provided health care.

Social issues

The party's views on social issues are broadly similar to those of conservative parties in other European countries. It favors 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. It has also shown some flexibility in such matters as in vitro fertilization and stem cell research.

Gay rights

In 2004, Poznań city council members from the Law and Justice party "compared homosexuality to pedophilia, necrophilia and zoophilia, stating that this kind of behaviour, just like alcoholism and drug abuse should not be promoted".[32]

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".[33] He has also stated, "The affirmation of homosexuality will lead to the downfall of civilization. We can't agree to it".[34] 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.[35]

In 2013, Krystyna Pawłowicz, a Law and Justice member of the Polish parliament said "homosexuals are socially useless",[36] and that "the society cannot offer a sweet life to unstable, infertile relationships of people, from whom the society gets no benefit, only because of their sexual bonds". She also spoke against homosexuals raising children: "Children like these are not brought up correctly, cannot establish a family, commit suicides more often and are frequently sexually abused".[37]

The party's position on gay rights, and their perceived homophobia, has led to controversy in the United Kingdom where the British Conservative Party joined them in the anti-federalist grouping European Conservatives and Reformists.[38][39] The Labour Party criticised the Conservatives; with former British Minister for Europe Denis MacShane saying "Tory isolationism is now creating a network of unpleasant, ugly, anti-European parties grouped around Cameron and Hague, but surely they should draw the line at links with gay-bashing homophobes".[40][41] Shadow Foreign Secretary William Hague defended the PiS and called the accusations of homophobia ""ill-informed and out of date".[42] The controversy continued after a video from 2000 was released of Michał Kamiński using the derogatory Polish word "pedał" (usually translated into English as fag or queer) to refer to gay rights campaigners. A spokesperson for Kaminski said the term had a different connotation a decade ago and is not a word he would use today. Conservative MEP Timothy Kirkhope defended Kaminski saying his remarks were taken out of context.[43] Kamiński later quit the party and joined the more moderate Poland Comes First party.

Election results

Year Vote % Seats Place Govt?
2001 9.5 44 4th No
2005 27.0 Increase 155 Increase 1st Increase Yes
2007 32.1 Increase 166 Increase 2nd Decrease No
2011[44] 29.9 Decrease 157 Decrease 2nd Steady No


Party chairmen

See also


  1. ^  
  2. ^ Bakke, Elisabeth (2010), "Central and East European party systems since 1989", Central and Southeast European Politics since 1989 (Cambridge University Press): 80, retrieved 17 November 2011 
  3. ^ Hloušek, Vít; Kopeček, Lubomír (2010), Origin, Ideology and Transformation of Political Parties: East-Central and Western Europe Compared, Ashgate, p. 196 
  4. ^ a b Nodsieck, Wolfram, "Poland", Parties and Elections in Europe, retrieved 28 March 2012 
  5. ^ Thompson, Wayne C. (2012), Nordic, Central, and Southeastern Europe (12th ed.), Stryker-Post, p. 326 
  6. ^ Berend, Ivan T. (2010), Europe Since 1980, Cambridge University Press, p. 131 
  7. ^ Stråth, Bo (2007), "The Political, the Social and the Economic in a European Political Order", Reflections on Europe: Defining a Political Order in Time and Space (P.I.E. Peter Lang): 155 
  8. ^ a b c d e f Tiersky, Ronald; Jones, Erik (2007). Europe Today: a Twenty-first Century Introduction. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield. p. 392.  
  9. ^ a b c Myant et al (2008), p. 88
  10. ^ a b Szczerbiak, Aleks; Taggart, Paul A. (2008). Opposing Europe?. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 224.  
  11. ^ Easton, Adam (7 October 2011). "Poland heads into close-fought election".  
  12. ^ "Poland's crumbling government".  
  13. ^ "Law and Justice". Encyclopædia Britannica Online.  
  14. ^ Szczerbiak, Aleks (2012), Poland Within the European Union: New awkward partner or new heart of Europe?, Routledge, pp. 1, 13 
  15. ^ Porter-Szűcs, Brian (2011), Faith and Fatherland: Catholicism, Modernity, and Poland, Oxford University Press, p. 201 
  16. ^ Minkenberg, Michael (2007), "Between Tradition and Transition: the Central European Radical Right and the New European Order", Europe for the Europeans: The Foreign and Security Policy of the Populist Radical Right (Ashgate): 261 
  17. ^ Jennifer Lees-Marshment (2 July 2009). Political Marketing: Principles and Applications. Routledge. pp. 103–.  
  18. ^ Fijołek, Marcin (2012). "Republikańska symbolika w logotypie partii politycznej Prawo i Sprawiedliwość". Ekonomia i Nauki Humanistyczne (19): 19–17.  
  19. ^ a b c d e f g Bale, Tim; Szczerbiak, Aleks (December 2006). "Why is there no Christian Democracy in Poland (and why does this matter)?". SEI Working Paper (91). Sussex European Institute. 
  20. ^ Law and Justice breakaway politicians form new ‘association’,
  21. ^ Conservatives' EU alliance in turmoil as Michał Kamiński leaves 'far right' party, The Guardian, 22 Nov 2010
  22. ^ "Opposition party Law and Justice expels critics".  
  23. ^ "Conservative MPs form 'Poland United' breakaway group after dismissals". 8 November 2011. Retrieved 31 May 2012. 
  24. ^ "MPs axed by Law and Justice opposition". 15 November 2011. Retrieved 31 May 2012. 
  25. ^ "New Polish conservative party launched". 26 March 2012. Retrieved 31 May 2012. 
  26. ^ Myant et al (2008), pp. 67–68
  27. ^ Maier et al (2006), p. 374
  28. ^ Jungerstam-Mulders (2006), p. 100
  29. ^ Myant et al (2008), p. 3
  30. ^ Jungerstam-Mulders (2006), p. 104
  31. ^ Jungerstam-Mulders (2006), p. 103
  32. ^ "Poznań city council members from Law and Justice against Equality March". Law and Justice official website, 7 November 2004. Retrieved on 26 May 2013
  33. ^,1342,wid,7957825,wiadomosc.html?ticaid=1408
  34. ^
  35. ^ "Poland: LGBT rights under attack". Amnesty International. Retrieved on July 19, 2009.
  36. ^ "Pawłowicz: Homoseksualiści nieużyteczni społecznie", "TVN 24", 25 January 2013. Retrieved on 26 May 2013
  37. ^ 'Krystyna Pawłowicz w SE: "Dzieci wychowywane przez homoseksualistów nie są w stanie założyć rodziny, częściej popełniają samobójstwa"', "", 30 January 2013. Retrieved on 26 May 2013
  38. ^ Day, Matthew (1 July 2009). "European elections: Poland's controversial Law and Justice Party". The Telegraph. Retrieved on 16 July 2009.
  39. ^ Traynor, Ian (3 June 2009)."Anti-gay, climate change deniers: meet David Cameron's new friends". The Guardian. Retrieved on 16 July 2009.
  40. ^ Watt, Nicholas; Traynor, Ian (22 June 2009)."Tories head new rightwing fringe group in Europe". The Guardian. Retrieved on 16 July 2009.
  41. ^ Merrick, Jane (3 May 2009). "Diplomats' anger at Tory plans to create right-wing EU group". The Independent. Retrieved on 19 July 2009.
  42. ^ "Hague: Attacks on Tory EU partners "ill-informed and out of date". PoliticsHome. 22 June 2009. Retrieved on 19 July 2009.
  43. ^ "Tory anger at 'anti-gay' claims". BBC News. 17 July 2009. Retrieved on 19 July 2009
  44. ^ "Elections 2011 - Election results". National Electoral Commission. Retrieved 2011-11-20. 


External links

  • Official website
  • Official website of the parliamentary club
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