Polish opposition leader Kaczyński likens PM Tusk to Hitler

Opposition leader Jarosław Kaczyński has likened Prime Minister Donald Tusk to Hitler. He also accused Tusk of wanting to turn Poles into “farmhands for Germany” and of trying to stifle media freedom like the communists did.

Speaking to supporters in the city of Lublin yesterday, Law and Justice (PiS) chairman Kaczyński accused the government, which took office last month, of “brazenly violating democracy and the law from the very start”.

“Tusk’s desire is for his will to be the law, because that’s what it boils down to: Tusk’s will is the law. There have already been those for whom will was law. The Führer’s will was law,” said the PiS chairman on Saturday, which was also International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

In Nazi Germany, an idea known as Führerprinzip operated, meaning that the Führer’s, i.e. Hitler’s, word was more important than written law and could not be questioned. Media linked to PiS have often likened Tusk to Hitler.

Kaczyński: Tusk chce, żeby jego wola była prawem. Byli już tacy. Wola führera była prawem.
Więcej na https://t.co/elwAa96aXC #NiezaleznaPL https://t.co/3jsTkKKuXj

— Niezalezna.PL (@niezaleznapl) January 27, 2024

In his speech in Lublin – where he had attended the unveiling of a monument to his identical twin brother, the late President Lech Kaczyński – Jarosław Kaczyński also repeated his regular claims that Tusk’s Civic Platform (PO) is a “German party”.

The prime minister is leading a “pacification operation” designed to destroy Poland’s sovereignty and “turn us into farmhands for people from Western Europe, especially Germany”, said Kaczyński. He also accused Tusk’s government of “brutally” taking over public media “without any legal basis”

“One of the elements of Donald Tusk’s policy is the destruction of media pluralism,” he said. “Poles are not supposed to know [what is really happening]. Just like in the times of communism.”

The new government’s takeover of public media has been criticised by many legal experts and has been subject to a number of negative court decisions. However, the ruling coalition argues that radical methods were necessary to “depoliticise” outlets that had been unlawfully turned into PiS propaganda mouthpieces.

A notary involved in the new government’s takeover of public media last month has been charged by prosecutors with knowingly certifying false information.

The move marks another escalation in the controversy over the legality of the government’s actions https://t.co/5XTJ0hHIxI

— Notes from Poland 🇵🇱 (@notesfrompoland) January 26, 2024

Kaczyński also repeated claims that PiS politician Mariusz Kamiński, who briefly began serving a two-year prison sentence before being pardoned this week by PiS-aligned President Andrzej Duda, was “tortured” in jail by being force-fed through a nasal tube while on hunger striker

“This persecution was planned, probably at the very top…[as] a warning,” said Kaczyński.

In response to PiS’s claims that Kamiński was “tortured”, the prison service has said that it cannot comment on individual inmates but that any such decisions are made by doctors on the basis of what is necessary to protect an inmate’s health.

President Andrzej Duda has announced a pardon for two former government ministers who were jailed for abuse of power.

However, he continues to insist his previous attempt to pardon the pair in 2015 was valid should have been respected https://t.co/iPguek5cjs

— Notes from Poland 🇵🇱 (@notesfrompoland) January 23, 2024

Since Tusk’s coalition came to power in December, PiS has regularly accused it of violating democratic norms and undermining the rule of law. Kaczyński has escalated such rhetoric this week.

On Thursday, the PiS leader declared that, because Poland is now in “an emergency situation and the constitution has practically ceased to apply”, there should be a “transition period with a new government and then [new] elections”. He added that “various methods” could be used to bring this about.

Those remarks were criticised by Tusk, who suggested that Kaczyński seems to “have a coup d’etat in mind”. The prime minister recalled that in October his coalition “won the elections and legally took power”.

The ruling coalition has also noted that, during PiS’s eight years of rule, it was found to have violated democratic standards and the rule of law by a wide range of international bodies as well as Polish and European court rulings. Tusk argues that his government’s actions are aimed at restoring the rule of law.

„Kaczyński is increasingly detached from reality,” says Donald Tusk. „I see a man who is very, very lost.”

„There is no doubt that part of PiS is focused on destabilising the state” https://t.co/BfSxXLGa82

— Notes from Poland 🇵🇱 (@notesfrompoland) January 25, 2024

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Main image credit: Jakub Orzechowski / Agencja wyborcza.pl

Daniel Tilles is editor-in-chief of Notes from Poland. He has written on Polish affairs for a wide range of publications, including Foreign PolicyPOLITICO EuropeEUobserver and Dziennik Gazeta Prawna.

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