To qualify as a recognised group within the European Parliament 19 MEPs from five different nations must be brought together (see today’s Independent). Nicholas Watt, reporting for The Guardian suggests that David Cameron’s search for sufficient new partners for Tory MEPs – once he delivers on his pledge to take them out of the EPP – has taken him into negotiations with the "homophobic" Law & Justice party of Poland:
"Lech Kaczynski [pictured], Poland’s president, who is a key figure in the controversial party, banned gay rights marches when he was mayor of Warsaw. He is also known as a staunch supporter of the death penalty."
Mr Watt used a October 2005 report to suggest that the EU bureaucracy was unhappy with Mr Kaczynski’s views:
"Poland could lose its EU voting rights if its newly elected president continues to oppose gay rights and seeks to introduce the death penalty, the European Commission warned yesterday. In a shot across the bows of arch-conservative Lech Kaczynski, the commission declared that all member states must abide by EU rules which protect minorities and block the death penalty."
The Financial Times notes that German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy, France’s UMP leader, have threatened to end high-level contact with Britain’s Conservatives if David Cameron pulls out of their EPP group. Mr Hague told the FT that good working relations with other EU leaders matter greatly but "We won’t change our position because of people threatening us in any way." The FT concludes its piece by noting that "some Tories expect that Mr Hague will seek to remove the issue from the political agenda by allowing negotiations with potential new partners to drag on inconclusively."
Some other policies of the Law & Justice party (Prawo i Sprawiedliwość or PiS) are recorded on Wikipedia:
- "Economically, the party has rather leftist views. It supports a state-guaranteed minimum social safety-net, and intervention of the state into economic issues (within market economy bounds)."
- "PiS supports free education in elementary and secondary schools and free health care."
- "PiS also supported Poland’s military presence in Iraq in recent years. Following the election, it declared that Polish soldiers will remain in Iraq for another 12 months"
- "The party opposes e.g.: legalization of euthanasia, abortion, registration of homosexual marriages. It postulates a return of capital punishment, which according to opinion polls is supported by 77% of Poles. PiS oppose the legalization of so-called soft drugs."
The Independent notes that Mr Cameron has already ruled out grouping with the French Front National or Alessandra Mussolini, granddaughter of the Italian wartime dictator. He has not ruled out co-operating with the Law & Justice party, however. It would be good to know if you think he should…
5 FEBRUARY: VOTING IN THIS POLL HAS NOW CLOSED
322 votes were received…
- 53% said "Yes, it is is vital that Tories leave the federalist EPP and the L&J party’s social views are not relevant."
- 36% said "No, the Conservative Party should not be aligned with a group with ‘homophobic’ views. We should wait until better partners are found."
- 9% said "No, Conservative MEPs should not leave the EPP at all."