Tusk seeking to stoke “revolt” if opposition lose elections, says government security chief

A senior government security official has accused opposition leader Donald Tusk of seeking to “manipulate” his followers into believing that defeat at this month’s elections could only come if the government falsifies the result. The aim is to stoke “chaos”, “social unrest” and a “revolt”, as well as to create “pressure from abroad”.

In an interview with the Polish Press Agency (PAP), Stanisław Żaryn – who is the deputy minister for Poland’s security services and their main spokesman, as well as the government official responsible for “security of the information space” – was asked about yesterday’s mass protest in Warsaw led by Tusk.

Żaryn claimed that Tusk’s “speech was intended to manipulate the audience and suggest that they should consider elections credible only if they end favourably for the opposition”.

Dla @PAPinformacje komentuję przekaz informacyjny liderów opozycji, który w mojej ocenie może przynieść niepokojące dla Polski skutki po wyborach.

via @PolskieRadio24 https://t.co/LUnxhzwvLq

— Stanisław Żaryn (@StZaryn) October 2, 2023

“The opposition leader’s speech suggested that the changes [in government] were a foregone conclusion and they could only be stopped by the intervention of the Polish authorities” through “falsification” of the election results, continued Żaryn.

He argued that Tusk’s actions are an effort to “make it easier to cause social unrest if the results do not meet expectations” by making “part of the public question the elections”.

They “are an element of building the potential for social revolt, which may contribute to post-election chaos…and give rise to pressure from abroad”.

A large opposition march has passed through Warsaw, two weeks ahead of parliamentary elections.

„We are moving towards a Poland that is open, tolerant, European,” declared the city’s opposition mayor @trzaskowski_ https://t.co/2hUP3a8YXY

— Notes from Poland 🇵🇱 (@notesfrompoland) October 1, 2023

Żaryn did not provide any specific examples of what Tusk had said. However, during his remarks at the start of yesterday’s march, the opposition leader declared: “Nothing can stop this force, this giant has awoken. Let no one at the top, in the ranks of power, have any illusions: this change is inevitable.”

Meanwhile, in a further speech at the end of the event, Tusk told the audience: “You have already won.” He also pledged: “I want to solemnly vow here once again that we will win, that we will settle accounts, that we will right the wrongs.”

Tusk called the audience “an army to achieve victory” and to “fight for a good, normal, proud and great Poland”. He said that he himself was “ready to give my life for my homeland”.

The opposition leader also said that Polish history shows when “millions of people, pessimistic, without faith in victory, suddenly turn into a real national community then no government has any chance if it harms this national community…I can see it very, very clearly, here [at this march] is the nation, here is Poland”.

In his interview with PAP, Żaryn warned that Tusk’s “actions may bring dangerous consequences for Poland”. He claimed that they are part of the political game of the opposition”, which has “for several months…insinuated that the elections in Poland will be rigged and the government will not hand over power democratically”.

Last year, a number of opposition leaders signed an agreement to create a “Citizen’s Election Oversight” organisation that would monitor this year’s elections. Tusk described the body as “essential” to prevent the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party from “abusing its power”.

However, PiS’s chairman Jarosław Kaczyński himself also last year announced plans to create an “army” of volunteers who would “protect elections” from opposition attempts to disrupt them or dispute the results.

Poland’s ruling party will create an “army” to “protect elections” and introduce „new rules for counting votes”, says its chairman Jarosław Kaczyński.

He warns that the opposition may otherwise disrupt and dispute next year’s elections https://t.co/dH6Cg0J0BO

— Notes from Poland 🇵🇱 (@notesfrompoland) September 14, 2022

Żaryn also told PAP that Tusk has repeatedly claimed that the 2020 presidential elections, in which PiS-backed incumbent Andrzej Duda won a second term, was actually won by PO candidate Rafał Trzaskowski.

Last month, Tusk did indeed declare that “Rafał Trzaskowski won the election”. PiS “stole our democracy”, he added. “They used the entire state to make the elections unfair, to deprive our candidate of opportunities.”

Likewise, last year, when unveiling the plan for “Citizen’s Election Oversight”, Tusk said that the 2020 elections were free but not fair. “Abuse of power, use of public funds, full monopolisation of state media in favour of one candidate meant that these elections were – to put it mildly – biased,” he said.

After those elections, international monitors from the OSCE reported that the “campaign was characterised by a public broadcaster that failed in its duty to offer balanced and impartial coverage” and “instead acted as a campaign vehicle for the incumbent”.

The main groups in the European Parliament – representing 75% of its members – have jointly called for “full-scale observation” of this year’s elections in Poland due to concerns that they “might not be held to the highest democratic standards” https://t.co/qgeQvyvUhl

— Notes from Poland 🇵🇱 (@notesfrompoland) June 7, 2023

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Main image credit: Slawomir Kaminski / 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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