Polish Prime Minister Morawiecki: Plea for the death penalty
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki comes out as a supporter of the death penalty. The opposition is outraged, but their arguments are thin.
WARSAW taz | Poland’s 2023 election year begins with a bang: In what at first seemed harmless online New Year’s question time with Polish voters, the prime minister confessed Mateusz Morawiecki surprising: “I am a supporter of the death penalty. As a Catholic, I do not follow the teaching of the Church on this question.”
Against the background of a brightly colored Christmas tree and a Polish table flag, he says: “The death penalty should not have been hastily abolished, as the western world did in the 1990s and earlier. In my opinion, the death penalty should be allowed for the most serious crimes. I’m a supporter of the death penalty, but we don’t have it.”
Whether Morawiecki has in mind neighboring Belarus, where ruler Alexander Lukashenko repeatedly has the death penalty carried out, or Russia, where criminals sentenced to death are protected from execution by a moratorium, which can be lifted at any time Morawiecki not explained. Also not whether the two to three thousand death sentences that the communist regime in Poland from 1944 to 1989, and for the most part enforced, felt “right”.
In any case, Poland’s prime minister knows that Jarosław Kaczyński, leader of the national-populist ruling Law and Justice party (PiS), likes to present himself as a big supporter of the death penalty. For around 20 years, the now 73-year-old has been evoking – again and again during election campaigns – the allegedly enormous danger to which the Poles are exposed by criminals and “dark forces”, by the historical enemies Germans, Russians and Ukrainians. And by Jewish descendants of around three million victims of the Holocaust, who are demanding restitution or compensation from the Polish state for the factories, houses and apartments that were taken over by Catholic Poles or nationalized by Polish communists after the war, German occupation and Nazi mass murder of Jews .
Fear campaigns pay off
In recent years, the PiS has declared Muslim refugees and members of the LGBT community to be other “enemies” that Poles allegedly have to fear. Election analyzes show that the fear campaigns paid off every time. In the past, around 30 to 40 percent of Polish voters voted for politicians who promised more security in the election campaign and protection from murderers, rapists, strangers and enemies.
The democratic opposition is outraged. But instead of debunking the party propaganda – if Poland reintroduces the death penalty, the country would be kicked out of the EU and the Council of Europe in a wide arc – it simply points to logical errors in the PiS’s arguments.
Adrian Zandberg, leader of the left-wing party Razem (Together), complains that the PiS is inciting hatred against Poland’s judges, but now wants to give them power over life and death with the death penalty. That is illogical, according to Zandberg. Rafal Grupinski from the liberal-conservative Civic Platform (PO) also limits his criticism to discrepancies between the allegedly Catholic PiS propaganda and actual church doctrine.
PiS government spokesman Piotr Müller dismisses this with a friendly smile: “Prime Minister Morawiecki’s statements on the death penalty are his private views.”