By Jonathan Isaby
There has been considerable turmoil in Poland's Law and Justice (PiS) Party since Jarosław Kaczyński narrowly failed to win the Presidential election caused by the death of his brother, Lech, earlier in the year.
At the beginning of the month, Kaczyński expelled two MPs from the liberal wing of his party – Joanna Kluzik-Rostkowska and Elżbieta Jakubiak – after they criticised him for taking a more hardline political attitude since the election.
It then emerged earlier this week that several Law and Justice MEPs – including Michał Kamiński (pictured above), the leader of the pan-European ECR group in which Conservative MEPs sit, were also minded to leave the party, citing concern at the direction in which Kaczyński is taking it.
The Warsaw Business Journal reported:
In an emotional television interview on TVN24, Michał Kamiński, the former spokesman for late President Lech Kaczyński, revealed that he had received a telephone call from a “member of PiS’s leadership” telling him that he could avoid Ms Kluzik-Rostkowska’s fate if he revealed what he had discussed in a meeting with the PiS expellees.
“I will not snitch on my friends, I will not be an informant,” Mr Kamiński said, speaking directly to the camera. He added that he also expected to be thrown out of PiS in the near future.
Brussels' Parliament magazine then reported that Kamiński, along with three MEP colleagues, Adam Bielan, Pawel Kowal and Marek Migalski, are launching their own "alliance", seemingly separating from the Law and Justice Party.
Today the Daily Telegraph picks up the story, quoting Kamiński as confirming:
"Radicals are taking over the party… I cannot accept that my party is being taken over by the far-Right, and being dominated by the far-Right. I don't like the direction Law and Justice is going so I'm going my own way now."
The Telegraph is trying to link this to the election of a new Conservative group leader next week (covered on ConHome here yesterday), although it surely ought to be an irrelevance. The bottom line is that the membership of the group in Brussels is the same as when the ECR group was formed and that which party those individuals are members of is a domestic Polish matter. Such splits and splinters are not so uncommon in relatively young democracies.
In any case, it is perfectly in order for a group in the European Parliament to include individuals from different parties from the same country, even if there is a permanent split in Law and Justice and/or the formation of a new party.