PiS leader denounces 'Franco-German imperialism' at Warsaw polling station

PiS leader denounces 'Franco-German imperialism' at Warsaw polling station

The leader of the Polish right-wing populist Law and Justice party, or PiS, Jarosław Kaczyński, expressed his disapproval of the European Union right after he cast his vote in Warsaw on Sunday.

In an impromptu press conference at the 333 polling station in the capital, he stated that although he believed that belonging to the EU is important to the eastern European country of 36.8 million, the bloc "should be a union of equal states".

"It is important for us for economic reasons, but it cannot be an attempt to rebuild Franco-German imperialism."

Kaczyński, 74, has been a mainstay of Polish politics for decades, known for espousing nationalist and conservative views that purport to defend Poland from outside influence.

Under the rule of his PiS party, Poland saw a sharp turn to conservativism, with the rights of women, the LGBTQ+ community, minorities and migrants under threat, sparking large demonstrations and criticism from domestic and international human rights organisations.

The party's sweeping judicial reforms in 2017, which PiS claimed would cleanse the country of "communist cadres", led the European Commission to declare "a clear risk of a serious breach of the rule of law" and active the Article 7 procedure, which could have resulted in a suspension of the country's voting rights in Brussels.

This led to a tense relationship between the EU and the PiS-led government, often resulting in harsh comments from Warsaw, particularly against large western European member states like Germany and France.

However, after Kaczyński's main political opponent, the centre-right coalition KO's leader Donald Tusk won the last elections in 2023, the relationship between Brussels and the rogue EU member has been on the mend.

It is yet unclear whether Kaczyński violated the electoral silence. Poland has a 24-hour stay on all election-related comments by candidates and the media, but the Polish electoral committee refused to weigh in, stating it was a job for "courts and law enforcement agencies".

In the past, Poland's strict electoral silence rules have led commentators and social media users to use fruit and vegetable comparisons when discussing developments in ongoing elections.