The Speaker of the Sejm, the lower house of the Polish parliament, has accused Jarosław Kaczyński, the chairman of Law and Justice (PiS), of echoing “Russian propaganda” by highlighting the erosion of political freedoms in Poland, following the revocation of parliamentary status from two deputies pardoned by President Duda.
Szymon Hołownia, the Speaker of the Sejm since last November and leader of the socio-liberal Poland 2050 party, part of Tusk’s electoral coalition, criticized Kaczyński for playing into the hands of “Russian propaganda” and tarnishing Poland’s international reputation through his critiques of the state of democracy since the government transition. Previously, the Law and Justice chairman criticized Hołownia for stripping Mariusz Kamiński, a former Interior Minister, and Maciej Wąsik of their parliamentary positions and for threatening to sanction PiS members after both politicians attempted to attend a session in the lower chamber.
Kamiński and Wąsik, accused of abusing power while leading the Anti-Corruption Office, were sentenced last December, shortly after the parliamentary elections, though they were pardoned by President Andrzej Duda. Kaczyński has warned that from this government, which “constantly violates the law,” anything can be expected, even “political murders.” He threatened to file a complaint against Prime Minister Donald Tusk after the two imprisoned deputies were forced to eat to end their hunger strike in protest of their treatment, labeling it a personal decision by Tusk, who he believes should be “personally held responsible for the torture.”
Both politicians were arrested on January 9 while meeting with President Duda at the presidential palace, despite having previously been pardoned by him. However, a new government order led to their imprisonment, which ended after a second presidential pardon.
Despite this, Tusk again threatened Wąsik and Kamiński, indicating they could be re-sentenced for their alleged involvement in deploying the Pegasus spy program at the Anti-Corruption Office.
The former Interior Minister maintained his parliamentary status and condemned “illegal attempts to deprive lawmakers of their mandate.” Law and Justice, the leading party in the October 2023 parliamentary elections and the ruling party until then, claims the country has seen a regression in political freedom since Donald Tusk’s rise to power, leading a catch-all coalition in the election.
In December, shortly after the formation of the coalition government, the police raided the public television station and halted the broadcast of the 24-hour news channel, TVP Info, just hours after the prime minister dismissed top officials in various state bodies, including TVP, Polish Radio, the PAP news agency, and the intelligence agency.
Following these incidents, Kaczyński, now leading the opposition, encouraged the use of “various methods” against Tusk’s government amidst the country’s constitutional breakdown and emergency situation. Hołownia declared he would counter any obstruction attempts in the Sejm. The prime minister, a pro-European candidate propelled to power by an alliance of most parties opposed to PiS, then accused Kaczyński of inciting a coup. His allies quickly drew parallels between the opposition leader and former U.S. President Donald Trump.
Hołownia himself warned that PiS members aimed to “build a second Capitol in the Sejm.” Meanwhile, Donald Tusk stated that Kaczyński is “increasingly detached from reality” and exhibits “dangerous tendencies.” “There’s no need for a coup because we won the elections and assumed power legally,” the prime minister responded.